Dogs are our four-legged best friends for a reason. We love their gentle, loving nature. When it comes to living a happy, fulfilled, and uncomplicated life, look no further.
Fiercely loyal, warm, and bubbly, it’s not hard to see why people gravitate towards them. Research shows that owning a dog can reduce your risk of heart attack by 30%, increase feel-good hormones, reduce stress and anxiety, and improve sleep quality.
They can’t teach us about the theory of relativity or the meaning of life, but if there’s anything we can learn from them, it’s how not to take life too seriously. Let’s dive into the life lessons we can learn from them.
1. Be present
Our furry friends are one with the present. They don’t harbor resentment or guilt about their pasts, nor do they worry about their futures. Only their immediate surroundings matter to them.
“When should I have dinner? How come my friend didn’t message back?” They don’t have these types of thoughts or concerns.
2. Accept yourself
We invented mirrors because we’re the only ones that can recognize ourselves and be self-conscious of our own appearance. Can dogs do the same? Who knows. They don’t look at themselves and wish that their legs were longer, that they were more successful, or that they were a different breed of dog. They accept themselves completely.
3. Don’t judge others
Havanese, Pitbull, Labradoodle—there are dozens and dozens of different breeds, all of them with different shapes, colors, and sizes. When they see each other, they don’t judge. Instead, they see potential friends and playmates.
4. Be forgiving
Remember that time you stepped on a dog’s toes? You probably still feel guilty about it. As humans, we tend to hold onto things for too long and beat ourselves up over it, but dogs don’t. They forgive and forget quickly.
Learn to forgive yourself and others for past mistakes as quickly as you can.
5. Wear your heart on your sleeve
You always know how they feel, whether that’s excitement, sadness, fear, or anger. As humans, we tend to withhold and hide how we feel because we’re afraid of judgment. Many of today’s conflicts are preventable if we are vulnerable and express how we feel instead of bottling it up inside.
6. Show affection
Stranger or not, our four-legged friends say hi and show affection to people they come across. For us, acknowledging our neighbors with a nod, wave, or smile is enough to help make their days.
7. Be adventurous
They’re curious beings. They’re open to exploring new things and possibilities even if the outcomes are uncertain. When they hop in the car, they don’t think about where they’re going until they get there.
8. Love unconditionally
They don’t love you because they expect something in return. They don’t carry a notebook with a tally about how many treats you gave them today and then think to themselves that they should withhold cuddles from you until you even the score. They love you for who you are—the good and the bad.
9. Go for walks
Get up and exercise. Walks can improve your mood, boost digestion, and also trim your waistline among many other benefits. Can we also take some time to appreciate how regular dogs are?
10. Have fun
As humans, we sometimes put too many expectations on ourselves to the point that we forget to have fun. Life is short. Our canine friends know this innately, and they don’t mind getting a bit messy. They’ll jump straight into the dirt, ocean, or give themselves a grass bath.
11. Rest often
We tend to have this obsession with productivity and work, defining our self-worth based on our level of burn out. Are you calling in sick for work? Instant guilt.
Dogs don’t need a life crisis or a family emergency to feel like they deserve to rest. They do so because they feel tired. Maybe they woke up on the wrong side of the bed. Or perhaps they are exhausted from playing. Or better yet, they have nothing to do, so why not rest?
12. Treat others like family
Your friends are their friends too. No questions asked. They give them the benefit of the doubt, and they show affection just as equally.
13. Be grateful
Dogs appreciate all the simple joys in life—food, water, shelter, friends, and family. They don’t complain about the same kibble that you gave them for the 284th time. People tend to want more and more, and we don’t often stop to be grateful for what we have.
14. Stay optimistic
Dogs perform tricks even when they don’t know if there’s a reward, but they stay optimistic.
In school, we learned that if we study hard and abide by the rules, we earn good grades. The real world is not like that, though. Sometimes, it doesn’t matter how hard we try and how moral we are. But we should stay optimistic and continue to do good. Eventually, our desired outcome will manifest.
15. Cuddle often
We love dogs for this very reason—they are our cuddle buddies. For a moment, our problems disappear when we snuggle up against their warm, affectionate bodies.
So when it’s safe, go out and give your friends and family all the hugs you can give. Cuddle your person. Go out and build stronger, deeper connections with the people you love. At the end, we’re all in this together.