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How to have Families that Flourish

Photo of Family Having Fun With Soccer Ball

Developing the skillset to promote progress within your relationships is a complex equation.

           The modeling of behavior we witness in our families of origin plays a significant part in how we act in our relationships. Whether these attributes will help us in adulthood depends on if they are prosocial or maladaptive.

           How do we define the perfect mix to grow well-adjusted human beings? The answer may surprisingly lie in analyzing non-human primates.

           Dr. Robert Sapolsky, a neuroendocrinology researcher, discusses his study of a baboon troop in the video below. This particular troop lives in Kenya, and he has been following them for 30 years.

Dr. Robert Sapolsky and the Keekorok Baboon Troop

           The research project demonstrates a very intriguing prospect of how a peaceful community can form out of chaos.

           Initially, the baboon troop’s leadership was hyper-aggressive males who exhibited behaviors that were not helpful to others. One can assume that due to their status in the group, they were the first to eat most of the tainted meat and thus died off.

           A blessing in disguise from this incident meant the “good guys,” as Dr. Sapolsky called them, became the majority of males left and then changed the culture of their community.

           These guys did not take out their frustrations on females or males of lower status; they were more social and spent time looking out for others. So, even when new hyper-aggressive adolescent males came into the troop, the good guys informed them that lousy conduct did not work in this group.

           As Dr. Sapolsky stated, twenty years after the dramatic shift, the culture of that baboon troop remains the same.

           The implications of this study should cause all families, communities, and organizations to take notice. Competition within all cultures will exist, but there also needs to exist a decent amount of cooperation as well.

           One confounding thought from this study comes from the deaths of hyper-aggressive males due to eating contaminated meat.

           There is no ethical way to replicate what happened in the study with human beings. Killing off the hyper-aggressive men and women of the world literally cannot work for obvious reasons.        

           Although, the answer could lie in figuratively removing destructive people from communities through social distancing.

           This recommendation would only happen if the unruly did not listen to the “good guys” (or girls) who would give the intervention to those displaying unacceptable actions. In Dr. Sapolsky’s study, it took the new males six months to make the adjustment to proper decorum.

A Family Smiling Together

           This project shows the possibilities that can occur when there is an investment in acting appropriately.

           The perfect place to conduct our research project is inside our homes. The logical first step is finding a partner who wants to engage in a prosocial relationship. Then agree to support one another and play on the same team. Hopefully, that would lead to having a family with the same characteristics.

           While that might feel like a pie-in-the-sky dream, if a group of baboons could figure that out, human beings do not have a reasonable excuse not to follow suit.      

Vertis Williams is a Positive Habits Life Coach and a Mindfulness Trainer. He is a regular presenter at employee and team-development events. Contact him to request more info on his Workshops or on his Coaching Services! Click HERE to Request a Complimentary Habit Coaching Session!

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