15 Life Lessons You Can Learn From Your Dog
Dogs know a thing or two about living life to the fullest.
Does any being on this earth love life as much a dog? Whether they’re romping in fresh snow or rolling over for belly rubs, our canine companions tend to savor each moment life gives them. So if we paid more attention, we’d realize dogs are basically spiritual gurus who can guide us on the path to enlightenment. If you want to live life like your pup—and really, who doesn’t?—take a look a the best life lessons from dogs.
Too often, we humans have many complex thoughts rattling around in our minds at one time. “What are we going to have for dinner?” “What did my partner mean when they said that?” “Why hasn’t my boss responded to that email?” Pretty soon, we’ve worked ourselves up into a frenzy, and we don’t even notice the world around us.
Dogs, meanwhile, live in the moment. “I am walking with my wonderful human,” they seem to be thinking. “I have picked up an excellent stick. Look, grass! Grass is so beautiful. Squirrel!” Dogs are true masters of the art of mindfulness, and they inspire us to fully take in each moment as well.
One of the most important lessons we learned from Yale’s Happiness Course is that being happy comes down to focusing on what you have, rather than what you don’t have. For humans, that’s easier said than done. That’s because we’re programmed to take the good for granted and brood over the bad instead.
But not dogs. Every time you feed your dog, they react as though it’s the first time they’ve ever seen food. Every time you grab the leash to take them out for a walk, they zoom back and forth in a flurry of excitement. And every time you walk in the door, even if you just went to take the trash out, they are bursting with joy. Dogs remind us that even though something may be routine, we should always take time to appreciate that it’s a part of our lives.
Leave the Past in the Past
One of the most heartwarming things about dogs is that, no matter how much suffering or abuse they’ve gone through, they can be rehabilitated with just a little bit of love and care. Dogs aren’t bitter or angry about what’s come before. To pups, today is a good day, and that’s all that counts.
As one owner wrote about her pit bull who was rendered blind after a hit-and-run, “Dogs can be put through horrible things, but they still can bounce back and live a happy life. It’s that ability to leave the past in the past that make dogs so amazing.”
As soon as you get a dog, you probably have a newfound understanding of “unconditional love.” Dogs love without expecting anything in return, and shouldn’t we all do more of that? It’s not about who loves who more or who does what for whom, it’s just love for love’s sake. And it’s so freeing!
Focus on the Positive
You know when your head’s in the clouds and you find yourself feeling sad about something you can’t quite put your finger on? And then suddenly, your dog rolls over and gives you a look that says, “How can you be so upset when there is a belly rub for the taking right in front of you?”
Dogs are always there to remind us to focus on the positive, even if it’s just something small that brings us joy. After all, how could things be bad when this moment feels so good?
There once was a dog named Devo who went viral for a very adorable reason. His owner tweeted that he found some lasagna in a cemetery once, and whenever he’s gone missing, he’s always run off to that cemetery, looking for more Italian food—even three years later. (Yes, we also wonder why there was lasagna in a cemetery, but that’s for another article.) “I think his optimism is a beautiful thing,” Devo’s owner said.
It truly is! Dogs understand the true meaning of keeping the faith. They don’t get discouraged when the thing that they want doesn’t manifest. While there might not be lasagna in the cemetery ever again, one of these days, some pasta will fall off of Devo’s owner’s fork. And, when it does, he will be waiting.
Keep Calm and Carry On
No matter what position you find yourself in, don’t stress. Let’s say you fall into a bush—and this is just hypothetically. Do not struggle against the bush you have fallen into. Be one with the bush. You will get out of it when the time is right.
Be Open to Adventure
Humans hesitate whenever they’re forced to do something with uncertain variables or unknown outcomes. Dogs on the other hand? Simply open your car dog, and Fido will bolt into the back seat. Sure, sometimes those car rides result in trips to the vet. But there’s always the chance that they could lead to playtime in the park, and that makes the adventure worthwhile.
Your dog might be on to something with all those “walks” they’re begging to take. According to the Mayo Clinic, adding walking into your everyday routine can help you prevent heart disease, improve your mood, and maintain a trim waistline.
Family Doesn’t Have to Be Blood
Dogs understand better than any human that sometimes family isn’t our blood relatives; it’s the people in our lives whom we’ve chosen to have there. Our dogs might not be related to us by blood, but you’d never know it based on the way they love us and vice versa.
Dogs don’t judge people based on the color of their skin, their sexual orientation, or their gender. (Heck, our colorblind canines can’t even see the shade of our skin all that well!) What dogs rely on—and what we should rely on, too—in order to separate the good humans from the bad ones are simply people’s personality traits and actions. It’s smiles and pets that let dogs know that humans are trustworthy, not their race or whom they love.
Bodies Come in All Shapes and Sizes
Big dogs, small dogs, thick dogs, skinny dogs—we love them all! Quite frankly, it doesn’t make any sense how we embrace dogs not in spite of, but because of their body types and then judge each other for being too tall, too short, too fat, or too skinny.
Every body is different, and we should love them just how they are. After all, if we can do it with dogs, then we can do it with each other, too.
Have you ever accidentally slammed your dog’s tail in a door or stepped on his paw? If the answer is yes, then you know inflicting pain on your pup is one of the worst feelings in the world. And yet, our canine comrades seem to forget that anything ever happened after just a few seconds.
Yes, dogs really are one of the most forgiving species out there—that’s just part of what makes them so carefree and happy-go-lucky. We humans could learn a thing or two from dogs about forgiveness and letting go of grudges.
See the Light
Have you noticed that dogs always manage to find the one sliver of light in an otherwise dark room in which to take a nap? They do the same thing figuratively as well, and it should inspire us to do the same.
Love Thy Neighbor
And thy neighbor’s neighbor. And anyone with a treat, really. Or anyone without a treat—those people can be great, too! And for more ways you can learn from your pooch, check out 19 Things Your Dog Is Trying to Tell You.
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