I have a Smart phone. My girlfriend still uses a land line. Guess what? Both of us can call our banks and order take-out. My husband has a fancy car with all the sophisticated gadgets and latest tech options. I drive a little stripped-down basic model. No matter which we drive, however, both vehicles will reach a destination in about the same amount of time. When we’re traveling together, inevitably, my husband and I will each have our own ideas on the “best” route to get to a destination or point of interest. Each thinks his/her route is the smartest. In the end, however, all roads lead to Rome, as they say. We arrive regardless of the route chosen. “Smarter” isn’t necessarily “better.”
Animals have known this for centuries and don’t waste their time arguing over whose ideas are smarter or more intelligent. Their goal is figuring out how to get along while still meeting their needs and those of the group. Being smarter doesn’t factor in at all.
Nellie nearly always got what she needed, without even asking!
Nellie, my dog years ago, was probably the smartest animal I’ve ever lived with. Certainly, she was heads and tails smarter than the rest of our pack at the time. Yet as smart as she was, she was not and never tried to be the Lead Dog. You could tell when she was carefully developing her options within the group dynamic, yet she never insisted on getting her way. She read the room and was more concerned about maintaining healthy friendships between her and her pack mates than winning an argument. As a result, her keeping the peace in the household benefited all. And on that note, ironically Nellie nearly always got what she needed, without even asking! The other dogs liked her and found themselves being tolerant and generous with her because of it.
Are there lessons here for us in our own personal relationships? If we find ourselves always being critical of our partner’s ideas or choices, thinking ours are smarter and dismissing theirs as silly, stupid or just plain wrong – remember Nellie, land lines and low-tech cars. Smarter isn’t always better. Sometimes different is just fine. More humility and friendly flexibility sometimes are the keys to happier times together. Just ask Nellie!