The other day I was reading an article by a person I respect when it comes to dogs. Cesar Millan is his name and I find that his books make sense to me and I have used his advice pretty successfully, when it comes to my dog, and honestly when it applies to my kids as well.
In this recent article that appeared he writes some pretty poignant stuff. His article was entitled: What Your Pet Can Teach You. In it he describes some valuable lessons that people can learn from dogs in how to live free from stress.
He makes five points and they are: 1) Live in the moment. Don’t always regret the past or worry about the future. Instead focus on what is happening right now. Dogs live in the moment.
2) Nurture a balanced life. Chinese medicine is all about balance, so this one struck me in particular. He advises physical activity, routines, a sense of structure and the opportunity to give and receive love. It is so very important to do this every day.
3) Trust your instincts. This could be translated into – be aware of your energies and of those around you – you innately know what is right or wrong for you. Trust your gut. We have all too often lost touch with this part of ourselves. Don’t let other people’s negative energy invade you. Radiate positive energy – smile a lot, greet people with a happy face. These things cost nothing but can instantly change the energy in a room and make your day better.
4) Be direct and consistent in your communication. I use this a lot with my kids – and it works. How often do we say one thing but “broadcast” something else by our body language and facial expressions. There used to be an expression that went “mean what you say, and say what you mean.” Kids and dogs all “read” you. They respond to your energy not your loud voice or your’ screaming. People will react to us via the energies we put out – both verbal and non-verbal.
5) Learn to listen. Just listening to those you love says a lot to them about how much you love them. It may not fix their issue, but sometimes listening is more helpful.
6) Don’t hold grudges. This one was a hard one for me. Cesar talks about how dog packs lack conflict and says that this is because they settle disagreements when they arise and then move on. Holding onto past wrongs and then bringing them back up serves no constructive purpose. They just hold us back. I like the saying – if it does not pay the rent, kick it out. In other words, if something is taking up space in your brain and sapping your energies, then get rid of it.
7) Live with purpose. Bored dogs are destructive dogs, when given a job they are happy. Everyone wants to be constructive and to contribute. There is no feeling like the feeling of accomplishment , the feeling of a job well done.
Celebrate every day. Cesar writes that for a dog every day is a holiday, every walk is the best walk, every meal is the best meal. Can you imagine if we had that kind of enthusiasm, that kind of happiness? Celebrate what you can do – see, walk, talk, eat, feel. Revel in a challenge and then enjoy the satisfaction of trying your best and of accomplishment. My patients always complain about getting older, and I always tell them it beats the alternative.