Our pups have much to teach us in the way of happiness. Unlike most of us humans, dogs have an astonishing and downright enviable ability to live as though every day is the best day of their lives. Their joy is nearly constant, remarkably resilient, and positively contagious.
If you find yourself battling boredom, negativity, and indifference on a frequent basis, try following the lead of your furry friend. Sure, it might sound ridiculous at first --- I’m not suggesting, of course, that you devour your coworkers’ shoes, chase your tail, or “mark your territory” in your office. No, no. But your pup may provide just the inspiration and example you need to go through your day with more of a pep in your step.
Make the best of the dog days by copying these common canine qualities:
Live life to the fullest – even in the midst of the mundane.
Life isn’t always a thrill ride (fortunately – I don’t think we could handle it if it were!). But there’s a certain beauty to the routine, which we often take for granted. Picture the boundless excitement that your pup exhibits every time you come home or shout, “Dinner!” Then – and I know this is a tall order – try to imitate that joy and energy.
Say hello wherever you go.
Many dogs never seem to meet a stranger. Whether at the dog park or on a stroll through the neighborhood, our pups usually want to greet every living thing they pass. Channel this enthusiasm and gregariousness in your own interactions. You never know when, through a simple smile, wave, and “Good morning,” you’ll make somebody’s day --- and you’ll undoubtedly better your own.
Stay attentive and available.
Think of what a stress-reliever it is to have your best bud nestled by your side or curled up at your feet. There’s a lot of power in simply being present for those around you. A lot of dogs have an astonishing ability to adjust their behavior according to your emotional state. Strive for a similar level of discernment and sensitivity when offering support to a friend.
Be quick to forgive.
Dogs are remarkable for their short-term memories. When they’re on the receiving end of a harsh word, they rarely ever harbor grudges or sulk around. Within minutes or even seconds, they’re back to their tail-wagging selves. (They’re too good for us, really.) Follow their example by affording grace to others readily and regularly.
Trust your gut.
There are times when our instincts cue us in to dangers that are difficult to detect with the naked eye. Take a page from your pup’s playbook by heeding your intuition when facing something unexpected and challenging in your day.
Oh, to have a dog’s sleep schedule --- a full eight hours at night, followed by at least five or six naps throughout the day. Our pups are never short on siestas. While it may not be practical to sleep as much as they do, try to prioritize getting sufficient rest so that you can be your most refreshed and energetic self.
Stop to smell the roses.
I don’t know about your dog, but whenever I take my one-year-old retriever on a walk, it feels like we’re stopping every five seconds to investigate a scent. While I’m not suggesting that you fixate on every distraction you encounter, do take moments throughout your day to pause, explore, and appreciate the little things.
Show some perseverance.
Much to my wife’s and my chagrin, our pup, Charlie, has an indefatigable desire to dig. I mean, the boy can’t --- or rather won’t --- be stopped. When you set your mind to something, channel this Charlie-like persistence. Let it be a force for good rather than evil. (Are you listening, Chuck?)
Look for ways to pitch in.
A lot of dogs love being assigned tasks and leaping into action. They’re eager to please, and they enjoy feeling like an integral member of the pack. Search out opportunities to help whatever “pack” you’re a part of --- whether your family, your work team, or your community organization.
Don’t forget to have fun along the way.
Perhaps the most amusing and endearing aspect of dogs’ behavior is their playfulness. Pups infuse fun into just about every situation they encounter. Try to act in a similar fashion as you go about your day. Be the joy and levity you wish to see.
In many ways, dogs are model optimists, living life to the fullest, appreciating the everyday wonders, spreading happiness continuously, and letting go of the negative that they experience. May we all take a cue from our canine companions in making the most of each and every day.