A Lesson in Resilience from Rats

This study has all over the news since yesterday, and I love it.


Apparently a team of researchers at the University of Richmond in Virginia trained a group of rats to drive these adorable custom vehicles (https://www.newscientist.com/article/2220721-scientists-have-trained-rats-to-drive-tiny-cars-to-collect-food/). Actually, they trained two groups of rats, one that was bred in an “enriched environment” with colorful blocks and toys, and one in a drab “research cage” environment. The two main takeaways are

  • Enriched environments are better than drab ones
  • Learning a new complex skills promotes the production of anti-stress or “resilience” hormones in our brains

This is conventional wisdom, and one that everyone has sort of known about for years. But now there is actual proof. Learn new skills to become more resilient in your life. The sense of mastery will help you feel a sense of confidence in your ability to exert control in your life (also known in psychological terms as “self-efficacy”) when the chips are down. And fill your life with enriching things – music, art, literature, adventure, and sport. These will help you in mastering new skills.

Watch the videos of the rats driving for inspiration!


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