This The Best Thing That Owning A Dog Did For My Mental Health

A little over two months ago, I adopted my dog, Miles. And, strangely enough, I was never a dog person. Growing up, my family had a cat, Spanky. I loved Spanky. My parents loved Spanky. My sister loved Spanky. Everyone else thought Spanky was a colossal bitch. Fuck them. Spanky was my best friend.

I never understood why anyone would want a dog. I always thought: they’re just big pains in the ass and they drool and they all act the same and they just stand there with their tongues hanging out like fucking idiots. You have to train them and walk them and bathe them and give them constant love and attention. But, not cats. Cats have personalities. Cats are awesome. They do their own thing and they’re smart and they clean themselves and they’re kind of mysterious and they don’t need your goddamn attention. Plus, they shit in a box. How sweet is that?

Well, since adopting Miles, I’ve experienced all the commonly reported benefits of owning a dog.

I get out of the house more. I get more exercise. I laugh more because Miles is hilarious. I meet more people. I’ve even scored a few dates…because let’s be honest: Miles is a kick-ass wingman.

But, there’s one benefit to owning Miles that has been truly life-changing. And, it was completely unexpected.

Owning Miles has significantly tamed my monkey mind.

In case you didn’t know, you have a monkey mind, too. Your monkey mind is that endless stream of varied thoughts that swirl around in your head every day.

You might call it a wandering mind.

Neuroscientists call it the Default Mode Network (DMN).

One of my mentors, Dr. Robert Glover, calls it the Ruminating Brain. (He also says I could be the poster child for it.)

Call it what you want. But, a wandering mind is often an unhappy mind. And, a lot of us wish we could just fucking turn it down a smidge.

Our minds are here to protect us. But, they have a funny way of beating us up and making us feel bad about ourselves.

I believe my monkey mind is the primary cause of almost all my problems, both past and present. I believe my monkey mind is at the root of my depression, anxiety, anger, jealousy, self-loathing, procrastination, occasionally anti-social behavior, and low self-esteem. I believe my monkey mind is why I’ve often failed to live up to my potential.

Over the last few years, and on my journey to becoming a personal coach, I’ve learned to tame my monkey mind through a regiment that includes things like meditation, negative visualization, gratitude journaling, setting weekly goals, practicing abundance, and observing my thoughts instead of believing them.

To my surprise, however, nothing has tamed my monkey mind more effectively than being the proud owner of a furry little fucker named Miles.

In the morning, I no longer hit snooze so I can begrudgingly ponder the hours ahead. I get up and take Miles for a walk.

If it’s a particularly busy day, I no longer let stress get the better of me. I simply take a break, get some fresh air, and watch Miles repeatedly piss on the shrubs in the front yard.

And, when I get home at night, I no longer sit and stew about life’s injustices. How could I, when Miles is furiously trying to lick the inside of my ear?

I guess what I’m trying to say is: if you have a seriously active monkey mind like I do if you’re feeling down or depressed or a little lost, if you find yourself wanting a bit more out of life…

Consider getting a dog.

If you can’t get a dog, then get a cat.

If you can’t get a cat, then get a pig (lots of celebrities are doing it!)

If you can’t get a pig, then get a chinchilla.

If you can’t have a pet at all, then go down to your local animal shelter and volunteer. Or just do something that will allow you to get out of your head and serve others. Thought Catalog Logo Mark