Archive for December, 2014

Monkeys Don”t Keep Score

December 3, 2014

After reading the title of this article, I am sure that most of you are pleased to learn that if you are planning any activities or sporting events with primates, you need not worry about them cheating on their scores.

Researchers at a primate research center have apparently determined that monkeys are prosocial, which is defined as having the motivation to assist others regardless of benefits. In other words, the monkeys don’t seem to keep track of past favors. They respond to the needs of their companions, rather than responding to the rewards offered by their companions.

So, we can assume that monkeys could teach humans a thing or two about relationships. They may not have the social graces needed to dine in Five Star restaurants, but why would they want to do that anyway? They are pretty content to eat while swinging in trees. But it seems that the little hairy guys have it all over us when it comes to giving to others without expecting something in return. People tend to keep tabs on favors.

Keeping score can be exhausting and it is the opposite of giving with grace. When we expect reciprocity for our good deeds, they cease to be gifts and become IOUs that we expect the recipient of our favors to repay. The truth is that we are not always going to get back as much as we think we have given. And that’s OK because it is almost impossible to balance these things out. The healthiest mindset to adopt is one of finding joy in giving and not expecting anything in return, because only then is your gesture genuine.

There are times when we don’t help someone in need because we know they won’t repay us. Sometimes we pass up an opportunity to make a person’s life a little better because we don’t think they really deserve it. We tire of being asked to donate or to lend a hand because there is nothing in it for us and everyone should make their own way. We hang onto our tally sheets and we keep score.

During this Holiday Season, maybe we would all do well to emulate the monkeys.

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