If you’ve spent any time on Facebook lately, you no doubt at some point encountered the cutest-picture-ever of a pair of otters holding hands while asleep. It’s a real photo — it’s called rafting, a practice which ensures the otter family doesn’t drift apart overnight.
If only our world’s problems could be as easily solved by just holding hands…
Otters Are Living The Good Life
Here’s the full picture: otters are totally living the good life. But they do it in different ways, which remind me about humans — some of them live in large groups, others are more solitary. They’re one of the few animals outside of our primate family that use tools to support building homes and foraging for food.
In all cases, though, they are having fun. They build waterslides and slide down them. They chase after butterflies and splash around in their waterside habitats, children and adults alike.
(It’s not all rainbows and unicorns — some groups of otters are territorial, and their social groups tend to be subdivided by the sexes… something they are no doubt working on, I hope.)
Why do the otters live such a playful life? Because their play activities help them strengthen their survival skills. Building waterslides and structures help them stay nimble if their living structures need to be repaired or rebuilt. Playing in groups helps improve communication flow, ensuring that the children don’t become too isolated.
That isn’t to say that otters don’t prioritize their needs; food and safety come first!
Otter Wisdom, Summarized
A popular summary of otter wisdom is this:
It’s possible to view life as a game to be enjoyed, rather than a burden to be endured. Be curious, play more!
I think that is wonderful, but let’s unpack it some more. I think that viewing life as a game is a good idea, if for no other reason than to remind you not to take things so seriously. (Nobody makes it out of this game alive, ya know.)
Specifically, though, I’d love for you to think more about approaching things in your life with a more playful attitude. How could you have more fun every day? Here are some examples to get you thinking:
- Do you have fun daily rituals that you always look forward to?
- Can you pair your recurring “chores” with something you enjoy (such as a short walk in the nearby park after cleaning house)?
- How about taking this idea literally by scheduling some time to play some games with friends and family? You can even download and print out free games online.
- You can also just relabel things to make them more playful. For example, if you have a haircut scheduled at 5, put in your calendar “Magical Hairdo Makeover Awesomeness.” When that reminder pops up, you’ll smile.
If those crazy otter pictures make you go awwwww, then I implore you to find at least one way each day to incorporate some playfulness in your life. You’ll live longer and be happier.