Sloths and The Life of Pi

Chein-Mu Yang

  • Sloths sleep/rest for 20 hours a day on average, and are only slightly busier at sunset
  • Sloths were given a 2/10 for touch, sight, taste, and 3/10 for smell
  • Two or three nudges will wake a sleeping sloth, but it will proceed to look in every direction but you
  • Sloths aren’t deaf, but sounds don’t elicit much of a reaction
  • The algae that lives in a sloth’s fur blends it in, no matter the season
  • Sloths always have a nice smile, and are in some ways similar to a wise yogi


5 Things that Humans Can Learn from a Sloth’s Lifestyle


The life of a sloth consists mostly of sleep and rest. Rest is very important; no one is able to work constantly without resting. More importantly, it is the key to a good mood!


By Chien-Mu Yang


Sloths are interesting animals. I always wondered how it would feel to be the slowest moving mammal on the planet, and spend 90% of my time hanging upside down from a tree branch. Sloths are able to do this because hanging upside down actually doesn’t affect their breathing. Pi in Yann Martel’s The Life of Pi notes that sloths have horrible senses, and there are only two things keeping them alive: slowness and the algae in their fur. Since they never move far from their habitat, sloths rarely come into contact with predators. The algae that lives in sloths’ fur changes colors depending on the season, thus being able to blend them in with their surroundings. Pi also says that sloths live “a peaceful, vegetarian life” (Martel 4).


Here are 5 things sloths can teach us that will help you live as peaceful of a life:

  • Feel free to rest whenever you feel the need to

Sloths rest all the time. They will only occasionally get up at sunset and move around while upside down for a bit. Resting is one of the best things you can do for yourself. Oftentimes, we don’t rest enough. When you are overwhelmed with work or just simply stressed with life, remember that you must stop and take a break. There is nothing wrong with hanging around for a bit and relaxing. It is necessary to rest in order to reset.

  • Slow and steady wins the race

This old saying is usually untrue, and is mostly used to motivate young children. However, in some ways it defines sloths’ lives. Sloths survive by being slow and therefore not getting in harm’s way. Their lives might be slow, but they are also steady. You don’t necessarily have to be slow, but being steady and pacing yourself properly is very important. Sloths prove that even some less capable contenders can succeed.

  • Smile

No matter what they are doing, sloths look like they are smiling. Despite this just being the way their facial features appear, a sloth’s smile is a constant reminder for us to smile as well. Maybe sometimes you aren’t really smiling on the inside; things are often hard. But smiling is one way to get through everything. It will brighten up your day and others’ as well. And then, that daily smile will make you happier every day!

  • Surround yourself with good people

Sloths have a symbiotic relationship with the algae in their fur. The algae helps them camouflage by blending them in with surrounding plants. The algae keeps them safe, just like how making friends with good people will make your life more positive. The people you surround yourself with have a very big impact on your life. They can shape your personality, and often dictate your emotions. The right people can make a big difference in you.

  • Conserve energy

Sloths obviously don’t move much. As a result, they don’t use much energy. They don’t eat much, nor do they digest fast. They will munch on a single leaf for many hours, and a low metabolic rate means they poop about once every week. In modern times, with the climate being a problem, we must accept that energy is not infinite. We need to conserve energy, whether that means driving an electric/hybrid car, using appliances less, turning lights off every time you leave a room, or just simply using natural light. 


Turns out, we can actually learn a lot from sloths. Not only will you benefit yourself from finding good people and resting whenever you feel the need to, you will also benefit others when you conserve energy and smile brightly!