Everyone knows how much I adore (and dote on) my dog, Enzo. Nothing makes me happier than chilling with him on the couch watching football on Sundays or taking him for a stroll around the block after a long day in the studio during the week. (I even wrote a letter about how much he means to me.) And I’m sure all of the dog owners and lovers out there can agree that pets can really improve your quality of life not only with the love they give but also with the little lessons they teach us every day just by being their furry little selves.
Always be in good company. When I’m at home, Enzo likes to stick close to me—he’s looking for some warmth and companionship after spending time on his own. And it’s no wonder: Research indicates that spending more than six hours alone can generate anxiety, so designating regular time to spend with family, friends, colleagues (and pets, of course) can have a positive, calming influence on the mind and body.
Be present. This article from Psychology Today was all about a great mantra everyone who attempts to multitask can benefit from: Chop wood, carry water. In a nutshell, it’s a reminder to be present in the moment and do whatever the task is in front of you with your full attention, i.e. don’t chop wood when you should be carrying water. The short-term memory span of a dog is around five minutes long, so being present in the moment is simply a way of life, whether they are fetching, eating, or napping. Humans, take note.
Give thanks every day. Around this time of year, we do a lot of thinking about and giving thanks for the good things in our life. But what about the other 364 days of the year? Dogs are wonderful reminders to get into the habit of cultivating gratitude every day because when they are grateful, their reaction is immediate: they wag, they hop up and down, they lick you … and is there anything cuter than that? A little love and thanks go a long way.
Be true to yourself. Have you ever met a dog who was pretending to be someone he wasn’t? Probably not. Dogs have this wonderful way of telling you exactly who they are within the first 30 seconds of meeting you, and they make no apologies for it. A few ways we can take this lesson to heart is by living in the present (and not the past), by not comparing ourselves to other people, and by making a commitment to express our individuality whenever and wherever it suits you.