Want to Be Happy? Think Like a Dog
I’m not big on New Year’s Resolutions, as they always seem to be a bit of a reach; a goal you never really have any intent on keeping but give it a go for old times’ sake. Drop 10 pounds. Run a marathon. Get through War and Peace. So I don’t do them.
But this year is different in that I really do want to make some changes—not because it’s the new year and not because it’s a traditional thing to do, but because it just feels like the right thing to do, a subtle course correction for 2016.
2015 was marked by highs and lows for me, an emotionally turbulent year that I managed only by keeping my eye on those around me who were still grounded. I consider my dog a key player on that team. He was happy and joyful when I needed a smile, soft when I needed a pillow, and there when I needed someone to lay on who wouldn’t try to fix anything. Pets are great at that. They know how to live balanced lives, happy with what they have and happy to have more when it comes, and happy to have less if it doesn’t.
So my resolution, if you can call it that, is simply to be more like my dog; less focused on changing what is around me and more on accepting what is already there. I believe the word I’ve heard a lot lately is balance, and I’m finally starting to understand what it truly means.
It means I’m going to spend less time arguing with people on the internet giving terrible advice and simply focus on those who want to listen.
I’m going to eat carbs sometimes (often, even) and not feel guilty about it. And so will my dog. And corn. We are going to eat corn and we will like it.
When we go on a hike, which may be less than I want to but more than I need to, I’ll be focusing on looking around instead of looking through my camera phone for the best Instagram picture. I will focus less on covering distance and more on stopping to let Brody smell interesting things.
I’m not going to keep him out of puddles. He’s washable.
I’m going to let my pets get on the bed sometimes, because someday they won’t be there to shoo off and I know I will miss it terribly.
Some years your world expands and other times it contracts, like a living being all on its own. This year I’m allowing my life to exhale and sink in; I’m going to worry less and cuddle more, criticize less and praise often.
It will be a good year.
Dr. Jessica Vogelsang