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  • Writer's pictureGretchen Fox

4 Ways to Live Life in Honor of World Elephant Day

This post originally appeared on the Evernote blog.

Today is World Elephant Day, and for what may be obvious reasons, it’s a special day for us here at Evernote. The connection between Evernote and our (literally) iconic elephant logo isn’t too hard to figure out. After all, you’ve heard the saying, “an elephant never forgets,” right? Well, that’s exactly it. That’s exactly us, at our core.

Our mascot, Mads, affectionately named after one of our earliest customers, has long represented Evernote’s desire to help people remember everything… and as a result, accomplish anything. Whether by supplying an easy place to jot down those stray thoughts at a moment’s notice, providing a platform to host and house all the notes, documents, articles, and photos you might need to tackle your projects, or offering a seamless way to manage your tasks, calendar, and day-to-day life in one fell swoop, we’ve cherished being able to help our millions of customers around the world remember the important things.

This World Elephant Day, in honor of Mads and elephants everywhere, we wanted to share four lessons we think everyone can learn from these gentle mammoths. From harnessing the power of memory (with a little help from Evernote), to channeling the elephant’s natural sense of altruism or spirit of cooperation, to finding your place within your herd, find out how these gray giants can inspire you to live your best life.

Mimic an elephantine memory

The idea that an elephant never ever forgets is, granted, a bit of a generalization. But they do have incredible cognitive processing capabilities and possess learning and memory skills superior to those of any primate species. Elephants have shown the ability to recall specific details relating to water and feeding locations, interactions with other animals, and encounters related to injuries they sustained, retaining these memories across decades.

While we might not be blessed with an elephant-sized hippocampus, there are fortunately a few human-sized solutions that can help us bridge the gap between all the information we want to remember, and that which we’re actually able to preserve. One simple but surefire way to lock details down before they escape your brain? Write them down. By pulling information out of your head and putting it in a form you’ll be able to search for and reread later, you’re saving yourself a lot of future frustration that comes from forgetting.

We might be just a smidgen biased, but an app like Evernote is the perfect way to offload all those little details that require remembering. With easy, cross-device syncing that ensures you always have a digital notebook in your pocket, a web clipper that makes saving articles and resources a breeze, and search functionality that helps you surface anything you need within moments, you’ll never again have to worry about keeping everything bottled up in your brain.

Lend a helping trunk

Elephants are thought to be highly altruistic animals known to come to the aid of other creatures—including humans—in distress. Elephant researcher Joyce Pool documented an encounter where, after a ranch herder broke one of his legs after coming across a family of elephants, one of the elephants guarded him until a search party later located him. The herdsman later told them that when he could not stand, the elephant used her trunk to lift him under the shade of a tree.

In the high-pressure world we live in, where our worth is all too often measured by our productivity, it’s easy to get caught up in the stressful tasks of our day-to-day lives. We isolate ourselves in our workstreams, focusing solely on what we need to get done. Our days are full of “I” statements: I need to finish this project, I need to meet that deadline, I need to reply to that email.

But when we are so sharply focused inwardly and on ourselves, we lose sight of the fact that there are millions of others just like us, trying to keep up with their own busy schedule, their own deadlines, their own work. And we lose perspective on all the things that make this wild world so wonderful—and worth working hard for—in the first place.

The good news is that perspective is easily gained (and regained) by just taking a few steps back (or in another’s shoes). One easy way to do that? Take a page from the book of our floppy-eared friends and look for opportunities to help others. Need some help figuring out what that kind of elephant-inspired altruism might look like in your own life? Try one of these ways to behave altruistically on for size and see how it makes you feel:

  • Do something to help another with no expectation of reward

  • Help someone despite the personal cost of your time, energy, or resources

  • Forgo something that may bring personal benefit if it creates costs for others

  • Show concern for someone else’s well-being, even if it is inconvenient for you

  • Donate your time, effort, and/or resources to a charity or non-profit organization (check out our list of elephant conservation organizations as a starting point!)

After all, putting a little bit of good back into the world can do us a whole lot of good, too. And what better time to start than on World Elephant Day?

Know when to ask for help

It feels like no matter how hard we try to pare down and chill out, life just keeps getting busier. Between appointments, tasks, projects, social plans, coordinating your family’s schedule, and trying to stay on top of things at work, it’s no wonder we get overwhelmed and exhausted. Thankfully, whether we’re talking about our work or personal lives, we seldom are forced to go it alone. And here is where another great lesson from our elephant friends comes into play.

Elephants have shown an extraordinary affinity for cooperation and the ability to collaborate on tasks in order to achieve a common goal. And since we’re already in the habit of quoting famous sayings, let’s give this one a spin: “No man is an island.” A society built around hustle culture has led us to believe that in order to be successful, we alone must be able to produce, to create, to complete. But the reality is that projects do not need to be tackled alone—in fact, collaboration often sparks even greater creativity. Household duties can be delegated and tasked out. And everything is always more fun with a friend.

Evernote even makes it easy to rope someone else in without missing a beat. With assignable tasks, you can ensure everyone has access to the right information and is on the same page when it comes to tackling your team’s (or family’s) to-do list.

Find your herd

Elephants are social creatures. Traveling in herds, the typical elephant family unit is made up of around 10 individual creatures, with several family units sometimes joining together to form a clan consisting of up to 70 elephants. They march together, play together, romp and fight and work together. They express joy and relief when reunited after long absences, and they prioritize their community whenever possible. So herein lies the last lesson we can learn from these gentle giants: socialization matters.

Though technology has given us more ways to stay in touch with our friends and family than ever, getting quality time with members of our own “herds” can still prove exceedingly difficult. Between our busy, ever-changing schedules, the continued unpredictability of COVID-19, and other issues, just finding the time to shoot the occasional touch-base text is hard enough. But research shows that the benefits of socializing with others are too numerous to ignore. Socializing not only staves off feelings of loneliness, but it also increases your sense of happiness and well-being, can help sharpen memory and cognitive skills, and may even help you live longer.

Concerned about the effort and time it takes to maintain your relationships? Look to the majestic Asian elephant for inspiration. While the Saharan subspecies of the African elephant tend to stay within their tightly bonded herds, studies show that many female Asian elephants are social butterflies. They make numerous friends and are even able to maintain their friendships with those they may have not seen over a year. So, hey, if Dumbo, Horton, or Babar can make time for their pals without being able to send the occasional iMessage, maybe we can too.

Live your best elephant-sized life

We can all stand to learn a thing or two from the way that these complex, highly-emotional, skilled, resourceful, intelligent creatures live their lives. Hopefully this article has inspired you to look at things a little bit differently, perhaps even inspiring you to step up into creating the best, brightest, most elephant-tastic version of your life.

Looking for more ways to support World Elephant Day? We encourage you to take a look at this list of hardworking elephant conservation organizations and find the best way to get involved.

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