Mendhi Audlin 0:00
Personal Growth is a lot like breathing. There's a time to take it in: the inhale, we fill ourselves up, we take it all in. But if that's all we do, eventually, we pass out, because we also have to exhale. And in the realm of personal growth, that means we need to be able to share what we're learning to exhale to push that breath out into the world in a way that makes a difference. And we just can't do that without connection.
Greetings, my friend. Mendhi Audlin here. Welcome to our What If UP Club podcast.
In my last episode, we talked about what it means to "what if UP" and how to use our mindset and our imagination to see new possibilities. Today, we are pouring the gas on that spark and fanning the flames.
My daughter Jenna has always loved wolves ever since she was very, very young. She's had a very special relationship with wolves. When she was about seven years old, in elementary school, we had our first opportunity to do a science fair.
We were brainstorming possible science fair experiments. And she said she wanted to do something, some kind of experiment with wolves. So, of course we get online together we're searching for, you know, what can you do? What kinds of experiments exist with wolves?
Ultimately, we decided that we were just going to go down to the Wild Animal Sanctuary. And this is a place in Keenesburg, outside of Denver, Colorado, where they have a relatively natural habitat for rescued and rehabilitated wolves and other animals. So we went there to see the wolves. We went there to talk to the wolf keepers. And after we did the tour, we stopped in the gift shop, and we asked if we could specifically if we could watch them feed the wolves. That might give us some ideas for a science fair project.
Well, they told us we couldn't watch them feed the wolves. Why? Because they don't really feed the wolves on a set schedule. They said in the wild, a wolf is going to eat kind of sporadically. Some days it eats some days, it doesn't. And so that's how they feed them at the Wild Animal Sanctuary.
We were talking about it on the way home and given all that we had learned that all dogs are descended from wolves, we were thinking about how our dogs would feel if we treated them like wolves. What would happen if we fed the dog randomly? If we fed the dog some days and then not other days? What would happen if we actually fed our dog as if it were a wild wolf?
We checked with the veterinarian got the all clear and that was the experiment. We timed our dog, how long does it take my dog to eat a bowl of dog food? And if that schedule gets interrupted, if that schedule is less consistent, will he "wolf it" down? That was the experiment.
And here's the cool thing that we discovered. I don't know that my daughter discovered this. But I noticed this because we'd been on YouTube. And we'd seen some experiments.
Now one of the experiments I saw on YouTube was a wolf that was on one side of a fence and on the other side, they put some meat some food. And they wanted to see how creative the wolf could be in getting to the food on the other side of the fence. Well, this wolf was pretty intelligent. At first it paced for a bit. And then it was smelling different things and trying different things and pulling it things and using all kinds of different strategies, incredibly intelligent, trying to get to the other side of the fence.
When we did this experiment with my dog. Here's the thing that I noticed, it didn't seem to matter whether the food came every day or the food came every other day. What seemed to influence my dog's eating the most was whether or not we as a family were having dinner at the same time.
Because the big thing that I noticed: the big difference between dogs and wolves is that wolves will try to figure it out on their own. Now, in this experiment that I saw on YouTube, they then took a dog and had it solve the same problem meet on one side of the fence dog on the other side of the fence, and the dog tried a lot of similar strategies, not quite as intelligent, didn't try quite as many things didn't have quite as much brute force. But the dog did something that the wolf did not think to do. The dog went to the human the dog looked to the human to help solve that problem.
So what is the difference between dogs and wolves? Dogs are social problem solvers. And wolves when it comes to interacting with humans are not.
So here's a fun fact. There are currently about 3000 gray wolves in North America in the lower 48 states.
There are 60,000 Chihuahuas. In Los Angeles County alone. Those Chihuahuas are not fighting for survival. They are treated like royalty. Why? Because they're clear on what they want. And they know who to ask and how to ask to get it. So don't say you never learned anything from a Chihuahua.
Okay, bit of trivia for today: What is the largest living organism on Earth? Do you know it? It's called the Pando Forest. It's a grove of aspen trees in Utah is Fishlake National Forest. Have you been there?
It may look like 47,000 individual trees. But those stems are connected by one giant underground root system that covers more than 100 acres, one organism.
When we talk about human connection, human connection is not something that we have to create. It is something we need to remember.
Like the Aspens in the Pando Forest, on the surface, we may look like a planet of seven and a half billion people. But if you dig a little deeper, you see that we are connected - all of us. And if ever there was a doubt that we are connected, perhaps the past year, and the spread of this little tiny virus that could put us all on lockdown... Maybe that made it clear we are all connected.
Suzanne Simard is a forest researcher in Canada. And about 30 years ago, she began conducting experiments on birch and fir trees. So her hypothesis was this. She thought that through a rich underground fungal network that trees even trees of different species could essentially talk to each other, they could share resources and share information that would increase the resilience of the forest as a whole. And so she went into her laboratory forest and placed plastic bags over the trees, and then she injected the bags of the furred trees with a radioactive carbon 14 gas. And then she injected the birch trees with a stable carbon 13 isotope. She waited an hour, and then using a Geiger counter, she was able to show that the birch trees had sucked up the stable carbon 13 isotope. And then the moment of truth, she ran the Geiger counter over the furred tree needles and heard the same thing.
It was as if the furred trees said, Excuse me, someone has injected radioactive carbon in me, Could you spare some of your stabilizing isotopes? And the birch tree said, Sure, I just happen to have some extra right here. And subsequent studies, they found that the fur and the birds do communicate in a two way conversation. In the summer. When the furs were shaded by the birch, the birch was send their extra carbon, but later in the year they found the opposite. The fiber was sending more carbon to the birch trees because the firm was still growing and the birch was now leafless.
So she discovered that the trees of the forest are not in competition with each other. Instead, they are part of this elaborate below ground communication network with mature hub trees, sending information and wisdom we could call it to the new undergrowth in a way that increased the survival rate of the new seedlings by 400%. And that without this diverse network, the forest becomes much more vulnerable to disease.
So what does that mean for us? In quantum science, there is a term called entanglement and I talk about this in my book, What If It All Goes RIGHT? It's also known as nonlocality. In the book, The Power of eight. Lynne McTaggart describes it like this. She says once subatomic particles such as electrons or photons are in contact, they are forever influenced by each other for no apparent reason over any time or any distance despite the absence of physical force, like a push or kick. All the usual things that physicists understand are necessary for one thing to affect something else. That's what she writes.
So when particles are entangled, the actions of one will always influence the other in the same or in an opposite direction, no matter how far apart they're separated.
There was a study done at Brigham Young University compared human interaction with health outcomes over an average of seven years. And here's what they found. Relationships of any sort, good or bad, good or bad, improve your odds of survival by 50%. Human beings are simply wired for connection. So modern researchers are finding that the greatest cause of stress and disease is actually a sense of isolation.
Our most toxic tendency is our tendency to pit ourselves against each other. So what if we are not that different from the aspen grove? What if we're not that different from the Chihuahua? What if we gain our resilience from our connection to each other? And what if, without those connections, we too are more susceptible to disease and to hardship.
There's a story about an old man and his dog and they're walking along a road. The man is enjoying the beautiful scenery. And suddenly he realizes that he's dead and that the dog he's walking with had died years before. And he remembered dying. And he looked down the road and he wondered, Where is this road going to lead me. So he walks aways and soon they arrive at this high white stone wall along one side of the road. It looked like fine marble. And at the top of a long hill, he saw a tall arch that glowed in the sunlight. And the gate was magnificent mother of pearl and the streets that led to the gate seemed to be paved with gold. As the man walked closer with his dog, he saw someone at the desk, come to one side, and the man called out and said, Excuse me, can you tell me where we are? And the guard said, This is heaven. That's great. The man replied. So would you have any Have some water? And the guards had? Absolutely. Come on in we'll have some ice water brought right out. And the gates swung open. And the man motioned toward his dog and said, Can my friend come into?
I'm sorry, sir, the guard said, We don't accept pets.
Well, the man thought about this for a while, and he turned back to the road and continued walking with his dog. And at the top of the next hill, he came to a dirt road that led through a farm gate, and there wasn't a fence. When he approached the gate, he saw a man inside leaning into a tree, reading a book. Excuse me, he says to the man's like, Do you have any water? Sure, the man says there's a pump right over there. Come on in. And so the man motions to his dog, yeah. How about my friend over here? And the man said, yeah, there should be a bowl over there by the pump. And so he goes in. And sure enough, there's the water pump, and there's the bowl beside it, and the traveler fills his water bowl and takes a long drink, and then he gives some to the dog. And once their thirst is quenched, he walked back to the man at the gate. And he said, so when you call this place, and the man says, This is heaven. And the traveler said, Well, that's confusing. The man down the road said that that was heaven.
And the man said, Oh, you mean the place with the gold streets and the pearly gates? No, no, that's, that's hell. Well, the traveler says, doesn't it make you mad for them to use your name like that? And a man says, No, we're just happy. They screen out all the folks who would leave a friend behind? What if that is the ultimate description of hell is going the journey alone? And what if the greatest way to truly experience heaven on earth is by bringing along some friends for the ride?
So what stops us from creating these kinds of connections? What stops us from doing this not just as a social outlet, but as a mental and spiritual and emotional discipline that we intentionally move into every day? So I wrote the book, what if it all goes right? About a decade ago, and I've been sharing this simple mental game of what if upping as a way to create interchange, and I've been doing it for more than 20 years.
As powerful as that process is, it is exponentially more powerful when you bring it into community.
This What If UP process is simple at its core. You start with a desire, you start with an intention, and then you plus your desire with "what if" possibilities? So have you tried it?
Like what if it's easy? What if it's fun? Okay, so now here's this week's challenge. I invite you to practice the process with another human being, and let it lead you into a time of connection and fun and sharing. So the way it works is each person has a chance to share a desire what do you want? And then together, you create what if possibilities for how you can move it forward? So what if, what if you choose someone that you know loves you and supports you and living your dreams? And what if you discover incredible joy? In what if upping ideas for someone else and what if together, you generate possibilities that neither of you would have imagined as a lone wolf.
There's an author speaker coach named Terry Tillman tells a story about traveling with an indigenous tribe in Africa. And here's what he writes. He says, as we traveled through the villages and Serengeti savanna, I noticed a recurring event. When one of the indigenous people would approach another they would pause, face each other. Look directly in each other's eyes for five to 15 seconds.
Say something and then continue on their way. This would happen in populated villages and in very remote areas where there may be only one human every 20 miles. After a couple of weeks of noticing this, I asked one of our guides from the Samburu tribe, what the natives were doing. He said they were greeting each other. How are they doing that? What are they saying? I asked. One of them says, I see you and then connecting through the eyes, the other replies, I am here.
Isn't that beautiful? I see you. I am here. And he writes, My Samburu guy told me something else that I didn't get it. First, he said, that in their language, the greeting also meant something like until you see me, I do not exist. When you see me, you bring me into existence. This speaks toward our deep connectedness and that we are in fact, all one. He writes. As human beings, whether you're an introvert, or an extrovert, we long for connection. We yearn to be seen. We yearn to belong to something that matters. And we grow as we see others and as we love them, with all their fears and insecurities and self doubts. They become our mirror connecting us with the truth that was already there. We are at the heart of it all connected, entangled forever apart of each other. And this is perhaps our greatest gift. What if so, the challenge this week is to connect, obviously, or what if a club is a great place to start? Are you connected with us online? Would you like to find others locally or online to practice with? If so, visit us What if app.com To learn more about how you can get connected and bring new possibilities to life for yourself and for those that you connect with? Thanks so much for joining us here in The What If UP Club I'm Mendhi Audlin. Until next time, dream big, love large and if you're going to what if... What if UP!