Thankful for the Wisdom of Dogs
By Matt Weinstein and Luke Barber
An excerpt from Dogs Don't Bite When a Growl Will Do
Dogs Are Happy
Show me a dog, and I'll show you a picture of happiness. Think about it. Have you ever heard anyone say of a dog, "Well, he's very successful and lives in a beautiful house, but he's not very happy"? One reason most dogs are much happier than most people is that dogs aren't affected by external circumstances the way we are.
Dogs Love to Play
Dogs have an endless capacity to play. It is definitely one of their top priorities, and they do their best to remind us that it should be one of ours, too.
Taking an occasional break is important in any kind of ongoing work activity, but if the break involves play, it is even more nourishing. If we want to take care of ourselves at work every day, taking a spontaneous play break is the best thing we can do for our health and mental well-being. As our dogs constantly remind us, anytime is the right time to play.
Dogs Know How to Love
I am certain that if the masses of humans begin to practice as much love as our dogs do, then the world will become a much more loving place.
For the next week, show your love to those you hold dear as if you were a dog. Run to greet them when they come in the door. Shower them with attention, affection, and kindness. If you manage to practice this for a week, then you will have acted with the deep love that dogs provide to us every single day of our lives. I promise that everyone who comes in contact with you during that time will feel blessed. And so will you.
Dogs Aren't Shy About Saying Hello
If we could learn to greet the people we meet with the same basic trust, openness, energy, and enthusiasm that is second nature to our dogs, the world would be a much friendlier place.
Dogs Listen Deeply (Even If They Don't Understand)
Our dogs' capacity for listening is one of the most appealing things about them. The way our dogs cock their heads to the side and stare at us with deep concentration as they hang on our every word is enough to make them friends for life. One of the reasons that we appreciate the quality of deep listening in our dogs is that we don't get enough of it from other people. We all know that being listened to is one of the greatest gifts we can receive, but one that doesn't happen very often.
Dogs Are Good Company
My dogs are happy to match their moods to mine. Whenever I get an exciting phone call, the dogs get excited, too. As my voice gets louder and more enthusiastic, the dogs can't sit still. They run around in circles and start barking their own excitement. They don't have to understand the subject matter. If I'm happy, then they're happy. If I'm excited, they're excited. Buddhist teachers have a word for this quality -- "Mudita," which means, "Joy in the joy of others."
Dogs Rejoice in the Small Pleasures
I believe the thing that makes dogs such connoisseurs of the simple pleasures in life is that they give them their full attention. When I scratch my dogs behind the ears, they are in paradise. I don't think they are wondering about world problems or worrying about what they should do next. They are fully present for the joy of having their ears scratched.
The good news is that the small pleasures that life has to offer us are not only abundantly available, but are also usually free. The problem is that we are so caught up in pursuing the Big Pleasures that we let the small pleasures slip by. Giving our attention to the little pleasures in life is a difficult thing when we are always busy doing other things.
Dogs Love the One They're With
Dogs know that there's always plenty of love to go around. They are not stingy with their love. In fact, dogs seem to know that the opportunities to experience love are limitless. It's not that only a few people are worthy of our love. Love is everywhere because we always carry our love inside us. It's only when we make the mistake of thinking that love is located outside of us, when we assume that love is dependent on being around a certain person or a certain set of circumstances, that love seems hard to find.
Dogs know that love is not a precious jewel that needs to be hoarded and only taken out on special occasions. Love is everywhere. It's not hard to find. You take it with you wherever you go.
Dogs Celebrate, Celebrate, Celebrate
Dogs demonstrate that we don't have to wait for a special day, the annual company retreat, or the occasional retirement party in order to celebrate. Dogs are ready every moment of their lives -- in an instant -- to throw a celebration. For a dog, no event in life is too small to celebrate. My dogs, for example, eat the same meal at approximately the same time every night. The way my dogs celebrate this impending meal would make one think that it was the greatest feast day of the year!
Dogs Don't Mind Being the Butt of a Joke
There are many ways that we can use laughter and play to break through the artificial barriers that separate us as human beings. When we show other people that we don't take ourselves too seriously, it is contagious. If we can feel comfortable with being the butt of a joke, we can help other people to lighten up as well. And we get to see once again that acting like a dog can actually make us feel more human with each other.
Dogs Stay Positive
The upbeat character of a dog is one of her most endearing attributes. Dogs are rarely depressed. In fact, even when things go wrong, dogs stay very positive. When they are confronted with the negative, they don't get stuck there. If dogs could speak English, then I am certain that they would have been the ones to invent the phrase, "Get over it!"
Dogs Are a Good Judge of Character
When dogs don't like someone, they have the good sense to stay away from him or her. On the other hand, when they need people to share their love, they find them. Seek out the good and take care to avoid the bad is the way a dog lives out his day. Not a bad way, I say, to approach life.
Dogs Turn Work Into Play
Whenever I hear someone complaining, "My boss is working me like a dog," I simply ask the question, "Oh, really? Have you ever taken a moment to notice how your dog actually does spend her day? Today would be your lucky day if you were working like your dog!"
Dogs don't make a distinction between work and play. Everything is fun to them, and every situation is a new one, full of infinite possibilities for joy and connection. We humans surely would be more successful in our jobs if we approached our work with the enthusiasm, dedication, sensitivity, and -- in general -- the wonderful attitude towards life of a good working dog.
Dogs Are Satisfied
Dogs are virtually always deeply satisfied. I think if my dogs have a mantra then it might be, "This is good enough." My dogs love long runs in the woods, off the leash. However, when all they get is a short walk through the city, they are satisfied -- it's good enough.
Dogs Shake Off Their Pests
It's always helpful to remember that we have a choice of how we view the world. The next time you catch yourself worrying and obsessing about the minor pests in your own life, it might be useful to conjure up the image of a dog that has just emerged from a dip in the lake. Whatever it is that's bothering you, it's time to make a choice: "Okay now, just shake it off!"
One of the reasons we are attracted to dogs is that they are so uninhibited and free. Dogs seem to play by their own set of rules, their own inner logic. They live in a parallel, but different, universe from ours -- a universe that allows them a freedom of spirit and a passion for life that is hugely appealing to us. When dogs bark at the wind or howl in the night, it stirs something inside of us that wants to be expressed, too.
Dogs Don't Care About Breed
Dogs don't choose their friends, associates, or lovers on the basis of breed, color, or culture.
Dogs Are Loyal
The loyalty of dogs to humans has been steadfast for thousands of years. Frankly, I don't see dogs getting into free agency anytime soon. It makes no difference if one is a king or a street person, a dog's devotion to his or her human companion is going to be... well, dogged. I have never been the friend of a dog who has -- even once -- demonstrated anything but the highest in fidelity.