For as long as I can remember, dogs have always been a constant in my life. Not until I recently moved to NYC and away from my family in Missouri, did I realize just how much my 4-legged best friends had taught me about life. The lessons are innumerable but here are the top 5 I learned from my furry siblings.
1. Be present – all we have is now
If you could ask a dog what time it was he would just say now. Animals are lucky in that sense, that they innately know that the present moment is all we have. They don’t waste their time dwelling on the past or fantasizing about the future. Time is a construct created by humans to measure things, which is great. But we also get stuck mostly in the past or the future. Which is actually crazy! The past is done, there is nothing we can go back and change, and even if it’s a good memory, it’s gone and dwelling on it still prevents you from experiencing what is actually happening in your life right now. Constantly thinking about the future is even crazier. Of course, it is good to have goals so that you can direct your efforts in the present moment to help you reach that goal. However, most of our concerns about the future never even come close to happening! They’re just scenarios created in our minds about what could happen. The reality is that we’re safe, all is well, and there is so much happening in front of us that we shouldn’t miss out on by living in our heads.
2. Never Lose Your Curiosity
Dogs are constantly intrigued by the world around them. They never lose the child-like sense of wonder that seems to fade from us the older we get. We get bored with things and if we’ve already done it before we tend to check out mentally. Think of all the opportunities and connections that have passed us by simply because we weren’t paying attention.
3. Appreciate the Little Things
This one goes along with Number Two. Dogs are just happy with whatever life gives them and they accept it. Time to eat? BEST THING EVER! Someone, anyone, paying attention to them? BEST THING EVER! Car ride? BEST THING EVER! Even a little bite of your dinner or a little pat or kiss, it makes their day because they fully soak it all in and appreciate it for what it is instead of comparing it or judging it and thinking it should be different or better.
4. Don’t Underestimate the Importance of Listening
Whenever I was having any difficulties growing up, my dogs were always there for emotional support. It seems funny because even though they couldn’t even understand me or offer advice, but they were always so soothing to me. I could be in my bed crying my eyes out and feeling like the world was ending but a simple nuzzle from my childhood Samoyed, Cannoli, and I instantly knew things would be ok. This teaches us that even if you can’t help someone or fix a situation, just the act of showing up and listening or being a shoulder to cry on can make all the difference.
5. Just Chill Out
Most of all growing up with dogs has taught me to just chill out! Life is good. I have a home and food and people to hang out with, there’s not much I really need to worry about! Tomorrow will be another day and the world isn’t going to end because I didn’t accomplish my entire To Do list.
I encourage you to take some extra time today to appreciate the dogs in your life who always show up at the front door excited to see you no matter what!