Why do Dolphins Look So Happy?

Yes, yes, the appearance of a smile is the consequence of dolphin physiology and not really a measure of mood. Still, dolphins are famously found to be in a good mood, as evidenced in all the usual ways, like engagement, energy, curiosity, play, laughter. Maybe dolphin physiology reflects dolphin karma? It certainly reflects dolphin evolution.

Dolphins are—we know, we know—very social and very intelligent, and they have special sonar powers too. But, as the cynics like to say, show me their technology, their art and finance; where’s their architecture, huh? What are they doing with all that intelligence?

Recent research seems to suggest that dolphins have actually majored in having good clean healthy fun; that’s what they are doing with their intelligence. Yup. They look so happy because they are so happy. And, if there were such a thing as a cynical dolphin, he or she might point to your finance, art and architecture and ask, “What’s the point when you’re all so miserable?”

Yes, I am going to say it: maybe we could learn something from dolphins. What would it be like to live with good-humored healthy fun as a primary purpose? What would it do to the world if seven billion humans changed their major to something dolphinesque?

About Anne Benvenuti

My second book, "Kindred Spirits" is in gestation, soon to be delivered! My first book is called "Spirit Unleashed: Reimagining Human-Animal Relations," June 2014, Wipf and Stock. From the book jacket: "In Spirit Unleashed, Anne Benvenuti uses analysis of real encounters with animals, wild and domestic, to take us on an intellectual tour of our thinking about animals by way of biological sciences, scientific psychology, philosophy, and theology to show that we have been wrong in our understanding of ourselves amongst other animals. The good news is that we can correct course and make ourselves happier in the process. Drawing us into encounters with a desert rattlesnake, an offended bonobo, an injured fawn, a curious whale, a determined woodpecker, and others, she gives us a glimpse of their souls. Anne Benvenuti strongly makes the case that to change the way that we think about animals—and our way of relating to them—holds the possibility of changing all life on Earth for the better."I am an integrative scholar and author, a licensed clinical psychologist, a priest of the Episcopal Church, a Trustee of the Parliament of the World's Religions (and representative to the United Nations), a published poet, and photographer. The New Archaic: A Neurophenomenological Approach to Religious Ways of Knowing," in A Field Guide to a New Meta-Field: Bridging the Humanities/Neurosciences Divide, ed. Barbara Maria Stafford, University of Chicago Press, 2011. My recent presentations include "Promise and Peril: Can Religious and Political Selves Be Reconciled?" at the International Academy of Law and Mental Health, Berlin, 2011; "The New Archaic: Neuroscience, Spiritual Practice, and Healing" at the Parliament for the World's Religions, Melbourne, 2009; and "Gratefully at Home in the Body: Neuroscience and Spiritual Practice," at Spiritual Directors International, San Francisco, 2010.
This entry was posted in Elemental innovations. Bookmark the permalink.

Comments are closed.