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The Elephant and Being Positive

by Dave Balch, Founder,

I want to tell you about an experience that underscores how much control we have over our own stress, and the stress of those for whom we are caregiver. 

CBS recently did a wonderful story about an elephant sanctuary in Tennessee.  Elephants, being social creatures, usually pair-up and spend all of their time with their new friend.

Except, that is, for one elephant named Tara, who has found a friend in one of the dogs that lives there.  The elephant and the dog are inseparable and are always side by side.  They do everything together; eat, sleep, play, and drink.  The founders of the sanctuary observed this behavior and knew they were close, but didn’t really understand the depth of their friendship until the dog suffered an injury and had to recover in the sanctuary office for three weeks.

Tara held vigil.  For the entire three weeks.

She had 2700 acres to roam, but chose to spend her time pressed against the fence closest to where her friend was recovering.  It is one of the sweetest, most touching stories I’ve ever heard.

I told my wife, the consummate animal lover, and she watched the video on YouTube; then she told some of her friends about it.  The first reaction of one of them was this: “That elephant is sure going to be sad when the dog dies.”

So much good, so much love, so many wonderful feelings related to this story and this person chose to see the dark side.

It occurred to me that this is a perfect example of how we each choose our own attitude about a given situation.  We can look for the good or we can look for the bad.

When we are suffering from a serious illness, or caregiver for someone who is, it is important that we keep the most positive attitude possible.  Focusing on the negative makes our situation seem worse than it really is, causing tremendous stress that really is unnecessary. There are enough real things to be stressed about: why manufacture something to that doesn’t have to be there?

© 2010 by Dave Balch. All rights reserved.

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