So, I’m going to show my nerd colors again and say that I’ve stumbled upon something that could genuinely improve the quality of life for myself and anyone who is willing to give this a try.
In 1992, an author by the name of James Gurney published and illustrated a book called “Dinotopia: A Land Apart From Time”. The setting of this book is an uncharted island inhabited by shipwrecked travelers and sentient dinosaurs that have found a way to live in a symbiotic society with its own language, customs, and traditions. More books have been written about this fictional place, as well as a TV series and movie.
I first learned about Dinotopia from the movie and instantly captivated. I’ve always loved the study of cultures, especially fictional ones, and Dinotopia was rich with it. I was a fanatic about it for about a year, and like everything else in my childhood, it became a phase and I moved onto something else.
However, something that has stuck with me over the years is the list of tenets that the society lived by. I could only recall a few on top of my head until recently. One was “Sing every day” and the other was “Do one thing at a time”.
I’ve been having a lot of anxiety problems and a bulk of my issues come from being overwhelmed by so much I have to do or want to do. Lately, I’ve brought those things to the forefront of my mind to see if they would help. I began practicing the “Do one thing at a time” until it became like my mantra.
Lately, I cleaned my whole house from top to bottom and normally, I wouldn’t even get half of it done. Whenever I’d bring laundry into the bedroom, I’d just dump it on the bed and get distracted with something else and I’d have a butt load of unfinished tasks. Well, I can honestly say that “Do one thing at a time” seriously helped. I kept a clear mind and stayed focused on the task at hand until it was done, and then I moved on to the next without going into a panic attack.
So, I decided that if one tenet was working, I might want to look up the rest. Here is my take/commentary on each of the Dinotopian Codes and how we, in the real world, can apply them to our lives.
- “Survival of all or none” – Life is precious and no one is worth less than another. One might take this statement to the extreme, comparing it to a scenario like Titanic where over half of the passengers died, but it can be applied to small situations too. Don’t just get ice cream for yourself. Get ice cream for everyone. The point is that everyone matters and if we start living like one person’s life is less important than our own, then we will suffer as a whole in the end.
- “One raindrop raises the sea” – This can also be another way of saying that everyone matters. Everyone has something to contribute and they are worth consideration. One person can make a difference.
- “Weapons are enemies, even to their owners” – Now, I believe in gun rights. I believe that everyone has a right to defend themselves if they are threatened. This statement is not saying that we shouldn’t own weapons, although the people of Dinotopia probably believed differently. I believe it’s saying that violence doesn’t just hurt the victim. It hurts the offender as well. A person who lives a life of violence, causing harm (either emotionally or physically) to other people can develop mental issues or social interaction problems.
- “Give more, take less” – Kind of self explanatory. Be a giver, not a taker. Give your time, your attention, your kindness, your consideration, your plentiful resources, your love. Give the good things in life and don’t expect so much in return. Give freely and joyfully.
- “Others first, self last” – Don’t be selfish. Don’t take the last piece of fried chicken from the plate unless no one else wants it first. Don’t put yourself above those around you because they deserve to be treated with respect as well. Take airplane protocol for example. When the oxygen masks drop, the stewardess and pilot instructs you to assist anyone who may be struggling around you before you take care of your own mask. Think of this code in the same way. Take care of others before you get yourself settled.
- “Observe, Listen, and Learn” – People in who listen tend to know more than those who won’t stop talking. Someone who talks is sharing what they already know, but a listener is gathering new information all the time. Being observant of your surroundings and how people are interacting around you will give you incites that you wouldn’t have realized before.
- “Do one thing at a time” – Multi-tasking isn’t all it’s cracked up to be. If you’re one of those people who can multi-task, more power to you. But, there’s something great about taking your time and focusing on the task at hand. You may find, like I did, that you can get more done with less stress.
- “Sing every day” – In one of my previous blogs, I recommended singing to reduce stress and anxiety because it increases the endorphins in the brain. This is the “feel good” hormone that makes us happy. In singing every day, we’re pumping ourselves up with that feel good chemicals.
- “Exercise imagination” – Imagination is a wonderful thing. We can use it to our advantage and created marvelous skyscrapers or the next best selling book. But we can also use it unwisely and psych ourselves out by over-thinking things. Choose to use this imagination to our benefit. Create something, write in a journal, draw a terrible picture of a horse, paint a sunset, anything to work your mind’s eye.
- “Eat to live, don’t live to eat” – Oh, wouldn’t we all love to be skinny and healthy. Well, you can make a choice to. I know it’s asking a lot, but don’t gorge yourself on Chinese when you only need a small side salad. Control portions and balance nutrients so you get what you need to keep your body healthy and happy.
- “Don’t p…” – This part of the code is missing, but the end is “Don’t put out the light”. Let your light shine. Show the world your smile and don’t put down someone else’s happiness if you’re feeling bitter and grumpy that day. Built people up, don’t tear them down. Look for the good and point that out rather than focusing on the negative. The world would be a happier place if people loved one another instead of hating whatever they disagree with.
- The last code is hidden in the list above. If you take the first letter of every code, is spells out “Sow Good Seed”. Ever heard that saying “you reap what you sow”? Sow good things, whether they be deeds or words, and you will have good things come back to. I guess it’s like karma, but in a good way.