Happiness of Sloths

Lately, I have become more aware of my levels of stress and how they negatively impact how I feel with my rheumatoid arthritis. It’s a challenge and I’ve been trying to do little things to reduce my stress throughout the day.

One tiny, silly thing that has brought me joy lately is looking at sloth photos on social media. They are everywhere! For a slow animal, they sure do get around the Internets! Those furry creatures are hanging, grinning, and chilling all over the digital universe.

It’s nice to learn about nature—at least I enjoy it. On weekends, we often watch a nature show (or a few) and learn about wild animals (or tame ones being cared for by some kind humans). I like to think about animals with lives that are uncomplicated by the silly stressors humans create.

Achieving sloth zen

Sloths rest, eat, and sleep (Yes, I purposefully used two synonyms for relaxing—hello! Sloth!). They are not stressing about work, bills, or health care. (Maybe they should, but I’m not going to question their life choices here.) They are just relaxed and happy.

Sloths always seem so content

All over the Internet (or at least mine), there are terrible stories about people in dire situations. But then I find the sloth and he (or she—I’m not going to pry) is just hanging (literally with a couple toes from a tree) or munching slowly on some leaves. The sloth has simple tastes and seems to be nearly almost always content. They don’t have big expectations and don’t seem to ever be terribly disappointed.

Learning a lesson or two from sloths

Perhaps the sloth is my vision of the Buddha. They know the world is a mess, but they have made peace with it and their situation. They are content with simple pleasures: rest and food. And actually, this sounds pretty darn good to me too. What do I need fancy plans for when I can have a nap and a meal that I enjoy at home with loved ones? Why do I get desirous of other things? Why have greater ambitions that may lead to disappointment?

I recently announced that sloth photos are currently the only thing keeping me on social media. Sure, I was exaggerating but probably by less than I knew. It’s really nice to see a photo of a smiling sloth and know he’s not asking anything of me nor draining me of energy. A sloth is just doing their thing by being a sloth.

Sloths are more active than we realize!

And yet when I dig deeper I learn that sloths are not as sloth-like as we believe. Sure, it may seem like sloths are constantly sleeping (especially when humans call them sloths). But they actually sleep less than cats! (Yes, your nearest feline sleeps more than a sloth.)

And they burn a lot of energy hanging out. Which makes sense when you think about it: they are literally hanging off a tree from three toenails! That sounds exhausting to me! Lastly, they may move slow, but they are moving more than we may realize throughout an entire day.

What sloths have taught me about my RA

So, while my imaginary vision of happiness may be an image of a sloth—it is made up. They are not what they seem as far as inactivity and inefficiency. For example, they may digest slowly but it is very efficient for their energy. And they are good at getting help from other organisms living with them (or literally on them) to help with tasks like staying clean. These guys definitely work smarter, and not harder.

As much as I admire their zen smile, I know there’s a lot of mysteries and underestimating of my sloth pals. Perhaps that’s why I relate to them. I may move slowly with my RA, but I get a lot done and use the tools at my disposal to live my best possible life. I just need to learn how to capture that enigmatic smile…

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