Fifteen things you can learn from your furry friend
You know that “A-ha” feeling you get when certain experiences arise exactly when you are ready for them? Seems like they show up just so you can learn whatever you need to learn, at just the right moment. If you’re paying attention and listening carefully, these opportunities are happening all the time, around every corner…you know, at the “there are no accidents” level.
For instance, let’s say you’ve been thinking about how to pay better attention to your needs. Suddenly, one day when you’re working too hard and ignoring the fact that your life has begun to spiral out of balance, you reach for something and your back tweaks out…just to get your attention and slow you down. The pain will pass. But for a little while, you’re forced to rest, take some deep breaths, and think about how to regain your equilibrium. Lesson learned?
Or, you’re trying to become more aware of your feelings and use them to inform the choices you make. Then you encounter a new opportunity to feel deeply. Loss, for example. What did your most recent grief experience teach you about yourself? About honoring your feelings? About your coping skills?
Perhaps you’re working on maximizing the positive and minimizing the negative. So, that day in the check-out line there’s both a loud rude person, and a giggling little kid who puts a smile on your face. Which one will receive your attention?
The opportunities abound. Again, if you’re paying attention.
Let’s explore for a moment some of the ways kindness enters our lives and offers us the lessons, the opportunities to learn how to live happier.
The Dalai Lama said, “If you want others to be happy, practice kindness. If you want to be happy, practice kindness.”
And philosopher Zig Ziglar said, “You can have anything you want in life, if you will just help others get what they want.”
In Barry Gottlieb’s book, “Every Day is a Gift,” he states, “According to Wikipedia, the definition of abundance is ‘the opposite of scarcity.’ I believe true abundance is not measured by what you have; rather, it is measured by what you give. In our culture, it seems that most people are caught up in their ‘need for greed.’ Perhaps this is why so many people struggle to find their happiness.”
Here are five “action steps” to help you move from that place of “what’s in it for me” to that deep and dear place of loving kindness…thus moving from confusion and miserliness, toward happiness and contentment:
Gratitude. Every night before you go to sleep, recite aloud at least five things for which you are grateful.
Forgive. Let go. Work toward forgiving those who have hurt or angered you, so you can stop carrying this burdensome poison around with you.
Love. Be sure to tell those people in your life who mean so much to you that you love them and appreciate them.
Donate. Go through your closets. Anything you haven’t worn or used in the past year, box it and take it to a place where those who are less fortunate will benefit from your donation. Get your children involved!
Praise. Make time to praise. Diligently look for and recognize the good in others.
In the spirit of lessons being available around every corner, my friend, Owen, sent me the following because, as most of you know, I’m a certified dog lover. (That’s “certified,” not “certifiable.”)
15 Things To Learn From A Dog
- When loved ones come home, always run to greet them.
- When it’s in your best interest, practice obedience.
- Let others know when they’ve invaded your territory.
- Take naps and stretch before rising.
- Play daily.
- Eat with gusto and enthusiasm.
- Be loyal.
- Don’t pretend to be something you’re not.
- When someone is having a bad day, be silent, sit close by and nuzzle them gently.
- Avoid biting when a simple growl will do.
- On hot days, drink lots of water and lie under a shady tree.
- When you’re happy, dance around and wag your entire body.
- No matter how often you’re scolded, don’t buy into the guilt thing…run right back and make friends.
- Bond with your pack.
- Delight in the simple joy of a long walk.
So…what will your act of kindness be today?
Until next time: “I hope you can learn your lessons with a simple tap on the shoulder before it becomes a blow to the side of the head.” — unknown
Dr. Rick Pimental-Habib, Ph.D., is a psychotherapist, author, minister, and educator in private practice in Chattanooga. Contact him at DrRPH.com, visit his wellness center at WellNestChattanooga.com
Photo by Ronald Stanley