Personal Growth

How Wolves Change Rivers

How Wolves Change Rivers is one of the most interesting scientific finds and discoveries of all time.  I first came across this interesting phenomenon by watching a YouTube video, that, not surprisingly, has nearly 40 million views.  Take 4:33 and prepare to be amazed.

My key takeaway from this is: never underestimate the power of small, incremental change.  You would think that the only ways to change rivers would be hundreds of years of erosion, or powerful earth moving equipment.  Yet, simply the reintroduction of a relatively small species, with even just a small number of them, powerfully changed the ecosystem that is Yellowstone National Park.

I would imagine that we all have some things in life that we would like to personally see changed.  Whether we realize it or not, we are all creatures of habit.  They might not be good habits, but they’re still nonetheless habits.  And so, when we finally realize we have some bad habits, our first thought is to do one, big, giant drastic thing to change.  Unfortunately, that is not the best way to change something.  Remember, wolves can change rivers…without ever even picking up a shovel!

I’m not sure it’s an official word, but I’d like to make it an official word if you’d allow me: cumulativity.  Basically, it’s what happens you do things consistently over an extended period of time.  Make sense?

So, I’ve been thinking about this concept for a couple of months now as I have been on a serious personal quest to improve my health and get in better physical shape.  At 40 years old, everything should be in decline (they say), but for a variety of reasons, that I won’t necessarily go into right now, I have felt the need to make some small, incremental changes to both my diet and exercise, that I believe will change the rest of my life.  Nothing drastic.  I still have my #WCW.  That stands for, White Castle Wednesday…?

The biggest challenge that I face has been this idea of cumulativity.  The fact is, going to the gym one time, or for one week, or really even for one month will not do anyone any longterm good.  But it’s the cumulative results of going to the gym day in and day out (forever) that will change people’s lives.  Essentially, it’s how wolves change rivers.

The challenge for all of us today is to start some new habit.  Stop some unhealthy habit, and just make a commitment to yourself, and to the ones you love, that this is simply just going to be the new you.  And just to be clear, this stretches far behind just our physical health, but even our emotional, mental, and even spiritual health.

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By Nate Roemer

Follow Nate on twitter @regunate

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