Question of the day: WHICH KIND OF ANT ARE YOU?

Happy Monday, lovelies!

OK, so one of the really cool talks I heard at the TED conference last week was from a scientist named Deborah Gordon, who has spent her life studying ants. (That kind of person, by the way, is TOTALLY MY JAM. A sort of modern Alma Whittaker for the insect world.) Specifically, Dr. Gordon studies something she has come to call "The Anternet" — the way ants communicate with each other socially across great distances.

I loved hearing about this subject, because who wouldn't?

But because I'm always trying to make emotional connections to everything, I made an emotional connection to one piece of her very scientific discussion.

She was speaking about the difference in behavior between ant colonies who live in scarcity (deserts, for instance) and ant colonies who live in abundance (rain forests).

It's all about the way they are chemically trained to forage — how they go forth in the world, energetically.

The scarcity ants have a chemical trigger that says, "Stop moving unless something positive happens." In other words, they don't take any action unless something good occurs — like somebody accidentally stumbling upon some food out of nowhere. Otherwise, they just kind of hang out, nearly motionless, conserving energy, waiting.

The abundance ants have a different chemical trigger, which says, "Keep moving unless something negative happens." So they're on the move all the time — running all over the place in all directions, adventurously collecting resources and food. They will not stop their energetic searching in any and all directions until something unfortunate blocks them (water, predator, competition) at which point they will backtrack home, take a break, and then begin running around again.

I thought, "That's interesting." Not just for ants, but, of course, for us.

Neither of these tactics is wrong, but each response is tailored to the way a given ant sees the world: Harsh, scarce and dangerous? Or abundant, endless and rich?

Does a sense of scarcity vs. abundance also change the chemical/emotional makeup of humans?

In your world, do you wait to act until something positive happens? Or do you take action constantly, until something negative happens? And does your answer have something to do with how you perceive your environment?

What are the risks and benefits of each?

Two days ago, I suggested that we become scientists of our own experience. Today we are specializing — becoming myrmecologists of our own experience!

Name your ant type.

ONWARD (or not, if you live in a scarcity environment!)

via Elizabeth Gilbert’s Facebook Wall