Are you an Ant or Grasshopper?
I am sure that many are aware of the fable of The Ant and the Grasshopper, and there is another perspective that I wanted to explore. I’d like to take this moment to examine it in closer detail. Firstly I’d like to recount the fable first, so that we may be acquainted with the principles demonstrated.
The Ant and the Grasshopper by Aesop.
In a field one summer’s day a Grasshopper was hopping about, chirping and singing to its heart’s content.
An Ant passed by, bearing along with great toil an ear of corn he was taking to the nest.
“Why not come and chat with me,” said the Grasshopper, “instead of toiling and moiling in that way?”
“I am helping to lay up food for the winter,” said the Ant, “and recommend you to do the same.”
“Why bother about winter?” said the Grasshopper; we have got plenty of food at present.”
But the Ant went on its way and continued its toil.
When the winter came the Grasshopper found itself dying of hunger, while it saw the ants distributing, every day, corn and grain from the stores they had collected in the summer.
Then the Grasshopper knew…
It is best to prepare for the days of necessity.
From this account the moral conclusion of the story is axiomatic, and yet many individuals experience the frustration of trying to do the right thing by following the right path, only to have things not work out the way that they would like to experience. These can also be called ants.
There are also other individuals that float, drift and ‘wing it’ through life. It appears that they never work a day in their lives and when they come up against unfavorable situations then they somehow manage to end up better off than they were before. These individuals can be called grasshoppers.
Here we can understand that ants are not always prosperous and grasshoppers do not always die in pain with regrets of a wasted life. Some grasshoppers use this experience as an excuse to justify their existence and ‘seize the day’ (carpe diem). The ability to live in the moment and enjoy your time is a thing that appeals to many.
This will all come down to a matter of values whether individuals want to enjoy themselves now or delay gratification. Their ideal would be to experience immediate pleasure and perpetual rewards, and at the same time a significant problem occurs when an individual does not want to take responsibility for his or her actions.
A problem for the grasshopper type of individual occurs when they want to play around in the moment, but squander their opportunity to gain sufficient resources for the future, and this only becomes apparent to them when they have run out of recourses.
The grasshopper type of individual makes excuses and blames ‘external’ factors like ‘winter’ for their lack of opportunity and abundance. This is a reality of life and a reason why many grasshopper types will never achieve success in the long term, but will achieve happiness in the moment.
The ant may achieve happiness in the moment in knowing that he or she is progressing towards a goal that will be realized in the future. Some may live by the mantra that says ‘no pain, no gain,’ and others will happily focus on the success that they will achieve eventually rather than their current situation.
We will look briefly at how grasshoppers will differ from ants in their outlook.
Grasshoppers will live for the moment.
Some grasshoppers will blame other factors for their own lack discipline.
Some grasshopper’s live fast, have lots of fun, die young and will be remembered as legends.
Some grasshoppers live fast, have lots of fun, and become individuals who live on ephemeral past glories and achieve practically nothing in their lifetime.
Some grasshoppers are angry at ants because those ants will not ‘help’ their fellow grasshopper out of the messy situations that the grasshopper has created for himself or herself.
Some grasshoppers do not like the idea of seeing ants accumulate wealth even when they see the ants forgoing certain pleasures. This will ignite a feeling of jealousy in the grasshoppers.
Some grasshoppers would think that it is a good idea to bet their future on the roll of a dice in the hope for a quick win.
Some grasshoppers promise that if they ‘made it big’ then they would share their rewards with everyone, and yet they squander their small rewards through a lack of diligence and impatience.
Some grasshoppers never ever expect to succeed so they sabotage their chances of success before they have a chance to ‘fail’.
Some grasshoppers blame their childhood upbringing or environment for their behavior and justify their desire to ‘show their worthiness’ by living the ‘life of Riley’.
Some ants are boring.
Some ants are selfish.
Some ants despise the carefree nature of grasshoppers and secretly wish that they could be as free.
Some ants will sacrifice pleasure today in order to be free in the future.
Some ants will spend their time working only to never achieve the level of fulfilment that they desire.
Some ants will never be fulfilled with their achievements, no matter how hard they work.
Some ants harbour a feeling of distain for dying grasshoppers that expect help from them.
Some ants will take pleasure in knowing that they are accumulating their treasure with each passing day.
These observations are to note that whether one is predisposed to be an ant or a grasshopper that there will be assets and liabilities for each trait.
One trait is not better than the other in itself, but it will depend on which way an individual wants to live his or her life.
Grasshoppers that want to live in the moment will enjoy the present, and may squander any chance of long-term success, while ants that forgo the short-term pleasures may or may not feel aggrieved that they are missing out on current joyful activities, and have their mind focused on a significant goal in the future.
The crux of the matter is that it is important know yourself and understand the motivations and passions that drive you.
Whether you are predisposed to live in the moment or alternatively exercise self-discipline then it must be understood how to utilise each position and use it to your favour.
It is important to follow your desires and inclinations. You must also accept that your power to exercise responsibility and face up to the consequences of your decisions without apportioning blame to others for your mistakes will be an essential quality that will lead towards success.
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