As my dog was going through the dying process, lying peacefully on her bed, I watched her sleeping. Although the snow was blowing cold outside, we were warm. I gently scratched her cheeks and the top of her head, which gives her so much pleasure. When she looked up at me, I could see the twinkling holiday lights from the Yule tree reflected in her eyes.
Having been rescued from the animal shelter, she lived 15 happy years with me, chasing squirrels and wading in the creek that flows through the backyard. The memories of our adventures together started popping up in my mind.
One of the lessons I learned from her was how to enjoy each and every day. She never took life for granted. She would jump out of bed in the morning with excitement for whatever the day might bring. Her enthusiasm and joy as she ran out into the yard was unmatched. She treated each day as a gift—regardless of the weather. I would love to reach such an enlightened state of mind that I could go through my day with as much zeal and positive energy.
I learned from her that it is not enough to just notice major events, I need to appreciate the simple joys of life. Here are some of the things she cherished the most: Sunshine; a pleasant breeze; praise; good food; a cool drink of water; a warm bed; eggrolls; a ride in the car; a walk on the beach; getting laid; being spoken to in a friendly tone of voice; and, of course, backrubs—lots of backrubs!
Aren’t these the things we all want? How many of us take time to fully appreciate all the wonderful things in our lives? Why don’t we? What are we waiting for? Why do we postpone happiness? Dogs don’t. Have you ever met a dog that delays joy? Of course not; that’s why Mother Nature gave them a tail to wag!
Obviously, life is not always blissful. There were things my dog didn’t like, such as an angry tone of voice, hot, muggy summer days, too much noise and commotion, and, worst of all, being ignored.
My dog had to learn to adjust to the unpleasant aspects of life. She would either leave the area or ignore what she found objectionable. Similarly, for us humans, there may be times when we are ignored or when there’s a lot of distracting noise. There may be other times when people are yelling or talking in a hostile voice. It is at times like these that we can remember our beloved pets and, like them, just tune it out or, if possible, go to another room.
Dogs possess some desirable characteristics that I still have not fully developed to this day:
•Loyalty: They do not abandon someone when times get tough. Maybe that’s why divorcing couples fight over the dog, who may have been more loyal than the spouse.
•Being quick to forgive: They do not judge, harbor resentment, hatred, or prejudice.
•Living in the moment: They find joy here and now.
•Letting go of the past: As soon as the barking is done, they are over it.
I think perhaps the greatest lesson my dog taught me is that every living being has an intrinsic value that cannot be earned. Nor can it be stolen or taken away—it’s an innate part of being. My dog had value just because she was alive. She did not have to win the right to have worth.
Today’s Loving Suggestion: Engage every situation with the enthusiasm of a dog. Get excited about the mundane things in life that are so often taken for granted. Make a list of the things in your daily routine that you find uninteresting. Then, behind each item, write down something you appreciate about that ordinary thing—perhaps something you hadn’t notice before. Take a fresh look at your life. Live like a dog!
Remember that dogs also have the endearing quality of being so happy to see you when you come home that they literally jump for joy. You may be having a horrible day, but that dog will still be thrilled to see you. And what is the result? You instantly feel better. Nothing like unconditional acceptance to improve your mood.
Show that same enthusiasm to all the people in your life. How much more happiness would it bring your family if you were to smile with joy upon seeing them come home safely? What about showing that kind of appreciation to your coworkers, store clerks, bus driver, or anyone else you come across in your day? The world needs more unconditional love. Since you can only control yourself, don’t wait for others to go first. Take the initiative and radiate some unconditional love to everyone you see. What a wonderful world it would be!
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The Sir Rennity feature is intended to provide gentle guidance for your life. These articles hold no intrinsic meaning. You give meaning to them based on the value you place on them, so the words here are meaningless unless you put them into practice.