Who doesn’t want to be happy? That’s a common truth that all of us share. As a life & career coach I’m constantly searching, interviewing, and learning new ways that people find happiness to share with others. As I walked my dog this evening, with no music, no phone and by myself I discovered a new way or at least a new thought I had regarding how to find happiness every day.
Tonight was a normal night, I would take the dog out and then decide what shitty reality TV show to watch. I was feeling anxious and I couldn’t figure out why. Looking at my phone didn’t seem to help, it only perpetuated the anxiety. Same for my TV shows. So I decided to take a walk and I disconnected from looking at my phone every five minutes and turned off my DVR’d TV show and went for a walk with my dog. Here’s what I learned from taking my dog for a walk and why I think we could all benefit from 'living life like a dog today'.
Look at things with constant wonder and curiosity. As soon as a dog goes outside it begins to be curious. What new smells are there today? What is that strange looking thing? Dogs are constantly curious and exploring their surroundings, even if physically they’re the same as before-ie same park, same tree, same hydrant etc. Why don’t we challenge ourselves to look at our surroundings in the same way. This lesson I think teaches us presence and awareness that we’re the only ones responsible for how we look at the world. Practice being curious today.
Kick some grass over that shit and move on. Too often we humans tend to carry past experiences with us (ie the shit from the past) to our present. We become stuck in the past by judging ourselves for our imperfections or mistakes, thinking that we “should” have done something differently. Dogs don’t live in the past, it doesn’t serve them. As said above, to a dog, each new day is a new opportunity. Why not try living in the present and releasing the things from the past that no longer serve you? Practice self-love and acceptance today.
Give yourself technology breaks. Is your dog on facebook? Probably not, unless by chance you created a personal page for them. Dogs don’t use technology. They aren’t stuck in the phone zone or addicted to social media. They’re not comparing themselves to other dogs, wondering if they should be doing better. They’re not even comparing pics to see who’s skinny, who had puppies or who gained weight. What if we gave ourselves a break from being glued to our phones and focused on something that brings us joy? Think of how much energy and confidence you would have if you stopped comparing yourself to others? Practice presence and no technology today.
Enjoy the little things. Too often we’re so absorbed by our routine that we forget to stop and smell the roses. To a dog, every experience can be a great one. Whether it’s going to the dog park, going for a walk, getting a treat or sticking their head out the window. What if you truly lived every moment all feelings in with a feeling of gratefulness for every experience you have in life. How much more could you love your life if you stopped to smell the roses and practiced gratitude? Practice gratitude and enjoying the little things today
Rest aka self-care. Do you see a dog staying up all hours of the night? No, because after they’re done exerting themselves they rest. Too often we over-work ourselves and neglect our self care, which causes burnout, stress and anxiety. Dogs don’t do that. If they’re tired, they rest. If they’re hungry, they eat. If they’re thirsty, they drink. If they could, they would determine when they exercise too! What if you truly took care of yourself today? Like really paid attention to what your body was telling you. How could you benefit if you looked at your own needs first? Practice self-care today.
Love unconditionally. As everyone knows, dogs love you unconditionally. You can scold them, they will still love you. You can neglect them, they will forgive you. Everytime you walk in the door, they will show gratitude and appreciate for you just because you exist, not because they got anything in return. What if we gave ourselves permission to love without boundaries. To practice forgiveness over resentment. To practice appreciation. To practice loving people regardless of differences in walks of life. To love someone for who they are at the core, not what they look like on the outside. How could you benefit if you treated every person you meet with total unconditional love and admiration? Practice unconditional love & forgiveness.
Take risks. Sometimes to get what we really want we might have to try different ways and also make people unhappy. Think of a dog who really wants the sausage on top of the table. That dog will always try, even if they could get yelled at to get the sausage. Why? Because sometimes the reward is greater than the cost of getting yelled at or caught. What would your life be like if you took risks to achieve your goals? How happy would you be? Practice taking risks and never giving up on your dreams today.
Jenn DeWall is a Denver life & career coach for Millennial women and a motivational speaker.