On more than one occasion I've written about how our pets can teach us so much about staying present (see: A Pup's Guide to Being Present), but lately I've encountered even more amazing ways that pets (and, in my case, a sweet little pup named Barkley) can inspire and enlighten us with their unintentional wisdom.
Anyone who has a pet is probably well aware that our amazing creatures are filled with a wisdom that often escapes us humans (perhaps because they have less to think / worry about than we do!), but we sometimes fail to tune in to the essential lessons they can share with us. In addition to teaching us to be more mindful (since, for most pets, that's just their nature!), pups can also teach us a few more life lessons, like...
PRIORITIZE REST + RELAXATION.
If you've ever played outside with a dog on a hot day, you've probably noticed that many of them will take a time out and find some shade when they get too hot or tired. (This, of course, isn't true of all pups, so make sure you're looking out for your four-legged friends, too!) Animals instinctively know when they need to rest. We, as humans, have this instinct too, but we often ignore it in favor of getting more crossed off our to-do lists. Take a tip from your pup, and consider how you can make rest and relaxation more of a priority in your life. It might not sound productive, but the more rested and relaxed you are, the better you'll be in every aspect of your life. (Bonus points if you make an effort to create a coziness for yourself, like some pups do in cozy crate!)
FOCUS ON WHAT YOU VALUE MOST.
Speaking of prioritizing, pups are pretty great at doing it when they need to. Just put a treat in one hand and a ball in the other, and you'll quickly learn your pup's priorities. Even the most ball-loving dogs will typically choose the treats. Like dogs, we only have so much time and attention in every given day, and we need to be mindful of where we place our efforts. Take a moment (right now, if you can!) to jot down the three most important things in your life, and then reflect on how much time and attention you're giving to those areas. It's not always going to be easy to choose (after all, dogs ideally want the ball and the treat), but if you don't mindfully focus your attention, the things you value most might not receive the attention they deserve.
LOVE WITHOUT EXPECTATION.
When it comes to human love, expectations are incredibly difficult to avoid, but the fewer you have, the better off you (and your relationships!) will be. This isn't to say you shouldn't have standards. You shouldn't settle for less than you deserve (in love or in life!), but having standards is different than having expectations. Expectations, however well-intentioned, often lead to disappointment. And disappointments often build on one another, leading to resentment. Dogs, unlike most people, don't love with expectation. They might occasionally (always) want something from you (food, a walk, a cuddle, etc.), but they don't love you based on whether or not their expectations are met. Learning to love like that can be life-changing.
ESTABLISH YOUR BOUNDARIES.
Every dog I've ever owned has set clear boundaries when it comes to what they don't like. These boundaries (and the way they are expressed) varies from pup to pup, but most dogs are good at letting you know with their body language what they do and don't like. People, on the other hand, are sometimes shackled by the chains of politeness. Rather than asserting clearly what we don't want others to do, we often tiptoe around topics or soften our tone so as not to offend. While you shouldn't feel the need to shout your boundaries from the rooftops, you should be aware that it's okay (and even necessary!) to make your boundaries with others clear (even if that might mean a little growling from time to time...). Here are some tips for setting boundaries if you're not sure how to do it.
STAY ENDLESSLY CURIOUS.
One of the absolute best lessons we can learn from our canine companions is this: stay endlessly curious. Puppies are such great sources of knowledge and mindfulness because they are into everything. They notice things, pick up things, stick their noses in everything. Older dogs, too, often take note of new changes in their environment, and pups of all ages are quick to notice (and often introduce themselves to!) new people or pets. As people, we're often busy and stressed, and some of us might not even think we have time to be curious. But curiosity is one of life's greatest gifts, and it doesn't stop giving if you're open to experiencing it. If it's tough to do, pay attention to what your pup pays attention to. You'll be surprised at how much you can learn from looking at the world from a different point of view!
This might not be the first time you've read some of these insights, but don't discount the value of revisiting wisdom (especially when the source of such knowledge comes in an adorable pup-shaped package!). The more often you reflect on life lessons like these, the more likely you'll be to actually take them into account in your day-to-day life, and taking ideas from the screen to the real world is where true wisdom comes into play. If you're lucky enough to have a pet, you're lucky enough to have a little guru by your side, a constant reminder than there is still so much to learn, and even the smallest of beings can impart wisdom in our lives.
Today's post was sponsored by STUdio Pet, a company making beautiful, high-quality crates that fit right in with the look of your home. Dogs need a sanctuary to call their own, but most indoor kennels are not something you are excited to display in your home. STUdio Pet provides the highest quality crates that are sturdy enough to withstand any dog, yet stylish enough to fit anywhere in your home. Our extensive history in the manufacturing industry coupled with our passion for animal welfare ensures a quality kennel that will last a lifetime. All products are manufactured in the USA.