How many times do you question what goes on around you? How many times do you change what you are doing because it feels right? Despite it not being the normal/done thing? Or do you ever?
As children we learn how to live life by mimicking those around us. We quickly learn what is right, what is wrong and what everybody else does. Our behaviors are usually set by cultivating a habit over many years, or following what others are doing. Rarely do we question things, or change the way we live.
The following story is popular internet folklore, (Is there such a thing? There is now) It recounts a scientific experiment involving some monkeys, some food, a ladder and a man with a water gun.
The 5 (not 12) monkeys were put into a cage, with the ladder angled towards the food. Naturally, one curious monkey climbed the ladder to get the food. However, when it did so, the Man with the water spray, sprayed the monkey, making him retreat from the ladder. He also sprayed the other monkeys. A few minutes passed and another monkey tried to climb the ladder. The same thing happened, but this time the other monkeys attacked him too. Every time a Monkey tried to climb the ladder, he was soaked with the water spray, as were the other Monkeys, who then attacked the ladder climbing monkey. When all 5 monkeys had realised they would be soaked with water for climbing the ladder, the man with the water spray, put down his water spray and swapped one of the monkeys for a new one.
This new monkey, stood in the cage with the four others and looked towards the ladder, at the top of the ladder he could see the food. With a puzzled look at the other monkeys he began to climb the ladder. Sure enough not only was he soaked by the water gun, he was also attacked by the other monkeys. No-one wanted to get wet. This experiment continued until all of the original monkeys had been replaced, and none of them climbed the ladder to get the food. Instead they stood in the cage, with the food and the ladder before them, they didn’t know why they weren’t to climb the ladder to eat the food, they just knew it wasn’t the done thing.
Deep for a Monday in September, I know, but think about it next time you find yourself constrained by what is the done thing. Is staying dry all it’s cracked up to be?