Sunday, April 10, 2011

Why Zebras Don't Get Ulcers

I came across the term eudaemonia, the classical Greek term for human flourishing in an old NYT article about a happiness conference. It had some other interesting terms like nachas, "Happiness entrepreneurs" and "Happiness Makeover". But what particularly interested me was that one of the participants was Robert M. Sapolsky, whose book Why Zebras Don't Get Ulcers I had read some time back. So why don't zebras get ulcers but humans do? Sapolsky writes:
If you are that Zebra running for your life, or that lion sprinting for your meal, your body’s physiological response mechanisms are superbly adapted for dealing with such short-term physical emergencies. For the vast majority of beasts on this planet, stress is about a short-term crisis, after which it’s either over with or your’re over with. When we sit around and worry about stressful things, we turn on the same physiological responses - but they are potentially a disaster when provoked chronically. A large body of evidence suggests that stress-related disease emerges, pre-dominantly, out of the fact that we so often activate a physiological system that has evolved for responding to acute physical emergencies, but we turn it on for months on end, worrying about mortgages, relationships, and promotions.
A zebra doesn't have all these problems to worry about.

I know, I know you are familiar with all this matter. But methinks it did no harm if you had to read it again.

1 comment:

  1. Wow!!Life would have been so much better as a zebra!!!