What animals can teach us about mindfulness.


I’ve always believed animals are our greatest teachers. As humans, we tend to dismiss animals, thinking of them as lesser creatures with limited (or no) intelligence. We think that just because they can’t read, don’t speak, don’t wear clothing, and don’t create art, music, or multi-national corporations, that they don’t have anything to teach us. If anything, we try to make animals conform to us, dressing up lapdogs in cute outfits or teaching them tricks to impress our friends.

Animals have much to teach us, and in many ways, if we acted more like them, as a species we humans might be better off — and a lot happier too. Mindfulness is a skill that helps many of us cope with daily life and eases the symptoms of depression, trauma, and many mental disorders — and there is no person more mindful than a cat, dog, or other animal. Even the Buddha was never as mindful as that Labrador retriever who looks at you with such soulful eyes, or that cat that sits peacefully in your window purring his little heart out.

If you have pets, watch them closely. They don’t worry about the future or fret over things that happened in the past. They don’t obsess over themselves or what others are going to think of them. They don’t beat themselves up over past transgressions or worry that they might not be acceptable. They live completely in the moment, reacting only to what they need to in order to survive and be happy. When they are given food, they happily nosh down on it, thinking about nothing except how good it tastes and how nice a newly-full stomach feels. If you ask your dog if he wants to go out for a walk, he doesn’t sit around sulking because he thought your tone was condescending; he happily jumps up and starts to dance around, sometimes even smiling (I am certain dogs can smile). If you scritch your cat under the chin, she will turn her face up to you, squint her eyes so they are almost closed, and begin to purr. She doesn’t worry that you might think she has bad breath.  She doesn’t care!  Watch a group of otters at play. They are like happy children, enjoying the water and the bliss of splashing around and swimming in it, and the joy of being together as a group.

Humans are the only creatures who unfairly judge their own kind, are cruel and unjust for no good reason except to boost their own egos, and seem to look for things to be miserable about, even when things are going well.

Many people think we make ourselves miserable due to our higher intelligence that makes us think about everything way too much, and that could be true. But what exactly is intelligence? How do we know that animals don’t have just as much of it as we do, even if they have a different kind of intelligence? Just because we can read words and earn a paycheck doesn’t mean we’re better or have a superior way of thinking. Case in point: have you ever witnessed some people with Down Syndrome? While their cognitive abilities may be impaired, they are some of the most joyful and affectionate people on earth. I remember one day standing on line at the supermarket. Ahead of me was a young man who clearly had Down Syndrome, and he was happily smiling and waving at everyone who looked his way. People smiled in reaction, not because they were being “polite,” and not because they were laughing at him, but because he was spreading joy. You couldn’t look at this man and not feel a little of his natural happiness. Studies have shown that people with very high IQ’s are more prone to mental illness and depression. People who aren’t as “smart” do seem to be happier. Sometimes I think too much in the way of cognitive intelligence actually gets in our way and keeps us from living in the moment and just enjoying life.  Children at play have a lot to teach us in that department too. We can learn from them.

I’m not comparing the cognitively challenged with with animals and kids to be offensive, but I do think it’s important to point out that all of these groups seem to be more able to live in the moment, and living in the moment is what mindfulness is really all about. Mindfulness and staying in the present leads to joy. So who really is smarter?

Instant joy:

If you’re depressed or feeling bad, just go to Youtube and watch videos of cute, funny and happy animals (or babies, if you prefer).  There are thousands of them.  They are popular for a good reason: they make us feel better and can make us laugh and smile when we’re down.    It always works for me, at least a little.

Narcissists are just highly trained monkeys.


It seems some people think narcissists are smarter than other people, because their mental and emotional abuse and manipulations appear so calculated and complex, and they seem to always be able to anticipate your actions and reactions. People also think you can’t outsmart a narcissist for the same reason.

While it’s true that outsmarting a narcissist means you always have to anticipate their actions ahead of time (which is difficult for a victim to do), it can be done, especially if the narcissist isn’t very smart. In fact, some of them are pretty stupid. The stupid ones are probably less dangerous, but even the highly manipulative and cunning ones who are experts at gaslighting and other mind games aren’t necessarily all that smart.

They’re more like highly trained monkeys. Some monkeys can perform very complex tasks that make it appear as if they’re incredibly smart. But this is an illusion. The monkey was trained over a long period of time by being taught one simple task at a time, and when one task was mastered, they were taught the next task. String all those simple tasks together, and the monkey looks like they’re performing a complex operation. Another analogy is a child of average intelligence who is multilingual. If the child grew up hearing several languages spoken, they will pick up all the languages and become fluent in them. Of course, language is harder to learn as an adult, so knowing several languages makes you appear highly intelligent, but if the languages were learned in childhood, this isn’t a given.

An even more dramatic example is the bower bird. A male bower bird builds a rather complex structure (the bower) resembling a thatched hut and a surrounding decorative display to attract a female, choosing objects that are all the same color, and arranging them in attractive patterns to impress the opposite sex. It would appear these birds must be creative and intelligent to be able to build a complex bower and a beautiful, color coordinated display, but in actuality they aren’t any more intelligent than other birds. Their behavior is mostly instinctual, although some elements may have been learned. They are probably not really thinking when they build their mating habitat, at least not the same way an architect does when he draws up a blueprint for a new house. Still, most of us probably wouldn’t know how to build a hut as structurally sound as the bower bird’s.

Male bower bird shows off his display of blue objects.

A narcissist can be of quite average intelligence but still seem to be able to anticipate your every move and every word and know exactly what moment to manipulate or gaslight you. This makes them appear cunning and calculating. Most of us associate those traits with high intelligence. But in actuality, all of it’s an elaborate defense mechanism learned when they were very young. Like the highly trained monkey performing a complex task, the narcissist learned all these behaviors over a long period of time, without even being aware of what they were learning. They just did whatever worked (or whatever was rewarded). They don’t think about what they’re doing; they just do it. Like the bower bird’s impressive display, their machinations are instinctual.

Why IQ tests of the past lacked smarts.


The following is a guest post by Mary Pranzatelli about the matter of how the standard IQ tests those of us of a certain age had to endure as children only tested for one aspect of intelligence, when there are actually 6. This was damaging because kids who scored low on the standard (Iowa) IQ test in those days were often assumed to be “slow” (and sometimes put in special ed classes) when they may have actually been very bright–in aspects those tests didn’t measure. This is what happens when an IQ test for children is developed through the limited and damaging lens of cerebral narcissism.

Fortunately things are improving today. Psychologists are recognizing there are at least 6 different types of intelligence.

Mr. Smarty Pants and the Dumb IQ Test
Guest Post by Mary Pranzatelli

Does anyone remember those placement tests we took way back in the day? Those lengthy evaluations timed to measure our intellectual level in the 60s and 70s. They called them the Iowa tests. They were used to evaluate, place and devalue students in categories to tell them who they were and what they could be.

Did you ever wonder who created these nerve racking, sweat inducing tests that gave you nausea in the pit in your stomach? His name was Everett Franklin Lindquist. He was a Professor from Iowa, who created these standardized tests known as the ACT He started administering them in 1959.

I don’t know about you, but when I was a little girl I wanted to play on the swing outside and when I was a teenager I wanted to hang out with my friends, be creative and write poetry and stuff. I found these standardized tests completely boring, disturbing and even insulting. I’d start reading the first few questions and I my mind would become completely overwhelmed. I thought, “Oh..No…No…No! Its none of your business!” How dare them hand me a paper, pencil and a multiple choice test that will evaluate me and place my entire life into a category. Some placement analogy that was based on a multiple choice test made up by this Smarty Pants; A Professor from Iowa. A cerebral Narcissist that thought he was more superior then everyone else because he had a high IQ.

I’m sure I’m not the only student who became frustrated with all those little machine ready printed dots that intimidated us as they stared us in the face. A hundred or more multiple choice questions that would determine one’s future in attempt to brainwash us to believe we were either stupid or smart based on Professor Lindquist’s analogy of who we are. I use to think the man who made up the Iowa test was really a brilliant man. I thought he was a real genuine Smarty pants. I was brainwashed. I believed smarty pants was smarter then me. And this asshole had us all by the seat of our pants because he was in control of our academic direction, future and career path. This cerebral Narcissist screwed up a whole lot of people.

A portrait of ACT CoFounder E.F. Lindquist.

A portrait of ACT CoFounder E.F. Lindquist.

They ran those answers through the Iowa test machine and let us know what our IQ scores were. The measurements that actually brainwashed most of us and our thinking. He squashed our abilities to explore ourselves and enjoy our dreams our wants and what we loved to do. Mr. Smarty Pants never had the insight to know us better then we knew ourselves. No standardized machine driven test has the ability to determine who we are.

So who are we? Aren’t we all humans. And humans are love, and feelings. We have 7 major components. We think, feel (emotions, love, pain and empathy). We taste, smell, touch, see and we have instincts. So what would a Modern Hierarchy of intelligence look like? A realistic Hierarchy.

*The Modern Hierarchy of thinking

1. Remembering

2. Understanding,

3. Applying

4. Analyzing

5. Evaluating

6. Creating

IQ only measures number 1, which is the lowest order of thinking.

Unfortunately, Smarty Pants and the rest of all the know it all’s have difficulty moving on. Many of these, I am so smart assholes, never move on because they believe that they are superior and they are stuck on number 1. In many ways it is societies fault for telling them that they are so smart.

Creating, which is number 6 is the highest form of thinking. That includes music and art. So don’t let anybody tell you that you are not smart when your heart and mind is advanced in all the categories.

A final note to the late Mr. Smarty Pants who developed the Iowa test….

I’m sorry your thinking was so overwhelming, and that you lacked the ability to feel for all the children you hurt. I’m also sorry for all the children who ended up suffering from hardships and low self esteem due to your silly standardized test.

Professor Everett Franklin Lindquist, May Your Soul Rest in Peace…

People treat me like I’m stupid


I wonder if it’s common for people with Aspergers or high functioning autism to come across to others as lacking basic intelligence.

I get that from people all the time and I hate it. In social situations, such as at work, where I have to interact with neurotypicals (NTs) who I don’t know too well, I’ve noticed people patronize me, they repeat things to me as if I didn’t understand them the first time, or just respond to me in a condescending way, as if they’re talking to a two year old. I am paranoid but I don’t think it’s my paranoia because they don’t act that way to everyone

I think people’s behavior toward me is because as an Aspie, it’s so difficult for me to process the things people tell me in a normal way, especially when I’m forced to deal with people in a group setting. I am also almost silent due to my shyness and unwillingness to get involved in social conversation. That probably makes me seem a little dim too.

I don’t hear that well either (I have only 20% hearing in my left ear due to having severe ear infections as a child), so that makes it even harder for me to understand what people say. I often have to ask them to repeat what they just said, which irritates both me and others. I’ve told people I have bad hearing, because being asked to repeat something annoys people less if they know there is something wrong with my hearing.

I find social chatter and small talk overwhelming and it’s not fun for me at all. It’s a lot of work for me to process all that. Of course there are some people who just intimidate me anyway (probably narcs) and I totally clam up around them and act really stupid and inappropriate when I’m forced to talk to them or ask them a question. Socializing is just so difficult! NT’s love it. I don’t.

It makes me so angry that I’m treated as if I’m a mental lightweight by people who know very little about me. I so want to say this to people who talk down to me or ask me the infuriating, “Did you get that?” :

“Look, you don’t have to act so condescending toward me. I’m not an idiot. I understand what you say. I understand a lot. I may look stupid to you because I have Aspergers, and that makes it almost impossible for me to process verbal communication and body language very well or deal with people in a group, or know how to act when you’re yammering at me. I also have Avoidant Personality Disorder, which exacerbates my discomfort in social situations. I get very anxious. But I want you to know I’m actually very smart, probably smarter than you. My IQ is above 150 but I know you probably think I’m lying. If you could see the way I write, you would be shocked at how intelligent and insightful I am. I see a lot of what goes on, I notice everything, I know a lot about a lot of things. I just don’t know how to communicate that well except in writing, or react appropriately when you tell me something. So please stop thinking I’m borderline retarded, because I am not.”

Of course I’ll never say this. But I wish I could!

Having Aspergers and Avoidant personality disorder combined with only partial hearing really is a handicap to dealing with the NT (neurotypical) world.

People who love me and know me well, and people who read what I write know I am not stupid.

Besides, Einstein had Aspergers too, and all his teachers thought he was retarded! 😀