While some folks may long to be rich, famous, immortal or have 88 million Twitter followers, I have a much more modest proposal. I want to be my dog.
Nary a day goes by that I don’t long to be one of my pampered pooches, and not just because they’re pampered. Dogs have no-nonsense take on life that typically makes them much happier and healthier than we humans are. They can also teach us a life lesson or six we’d be wise to heed to attain that same grade of health and happiness.
There’s no such thing as a bad hair day.
True, some pooches could use a good brushing or even a bath. But dogs don’t stand around in front of the mirror fretting about their appearance, something humans have probably been doing ever since they realized they could see their reflection in a placid puddle of water.
Fretting about our hair, our weight, the shape of our toes, a pimple on our chin – and what people will think of us because of these features – can lead straight into depression and emotional anguish.
Dogs instead know they’re perfect just the way they are. Watch any three-legged dog romp unabashedly at the park and you’ll know exactly what we mean. Bad hair days be damned.
Stop taking yourself so seriously.
Let’s say we trip on a sidewalk, blurt out something stupid at work or somehow knock over those precariously perched apples at the supermarket. Not only would many of us be embarrassed or even horrified, but we may even repeatedly replay the horror of that moment in our heads that night as we tossed and kicked in an attempt to get to sleep.
Dogs let us dress them up in costumes, for goodness sake. And you can bet they’re not losing any sleep over it. Dogs intuitively know laughter is good for the soul, and they may do it quite frequently at play. Yes, dogs can laugh. Even dogs in crocheted hats.
Dogs sleep an average of 12 to 14 hours a day. And they even have a proverb that warns you not to wake them when they’re doing so. While we humans may need a shade less sleep than dogs do, we could benefit greatly if we got some of that sleep in the form of naps.
Daily naps can increase alertness, heighten the senses, eliminate burnout and make us more productive. Instead of thinking of sleep as an idle, time-wasting activity, view it as a way to recharge your batteries (that doesn’t involve yet another five cups of caffeine).
Say what you mean.
There’s nothing wrong with holding our tongue or thinking before we speak. But there is a big problem when we humans stop ourselves from expressing how we feel. Suppressing our emotions cannot only bring on stress, mental illness, and physical ailments, but it can also make us fat.
Dogs have no problem letting us know exactly how they feel. If they’re scared, they’ll hide and whimper. If they’re upset, they’ll bark and growl. And if they don’t like something, you’ll certainly know. Dogs don’t care what people will think if they speak their truth. What a liberating way to stay stress-free, healthy and slim.
Enjoy the little things.
How many times have we told ourselves we’ll really start enjoying life once we get a job we love, get married, get through grad school, have a kid, get a white picket fence or any number of other big, giant things that are supposed to make us happy.
Excuse the French, but that’s bullshit.
Life is happening here and now, and sometimes it’s the smallest of things that can bring us the greatest joy. A hummingbird at the window. A kind word from a stranger. A pat on the head. An unexpected treat. The little blue pool in the sunny backyard.
Live in the moment.
Dogs not only enjoy the little things, but they’re fully aware of and present in the moment to take full advantage of them. We, humans, have minds that instead tend to wander back into the past of yesterday or forward into the tomorrow that doesn’t even exist yet.
We’re so busy hemming, hawing and moaning about tripping on a sidewalk last week, or fully fearing something we’re sure will happen next week, that we often miss the sheer delight of the moment at hand.
Dogs don’t do that.
When they’re merrily romping, running, carousing or napping, you can be sure no portion of their brains is poring over the past or fretting about the future. They’re too busy simply being alive – and having fun. And that’s because life is consistently fun if we can learn to be more like our dogs.