Life Lessons I Learned From My Dog
By Joanne Brokaw
It’s a national obsession: as we clink our champagne glasses to ring in the New Year most of us are listing our resolutions: Get in shape, get organized, take a dream vacation, get a better job, save money, write a novel, read a novel, decrease our stress levels. These are lofty goals meant to help us live healthier, happier lives but goals that most of us will abandon in frustration before mid-January.
Sure, there are some things I’d like to change about myself but I’ve decided that rather than changing something specific - like filing paperwork instead of leaving it on the desk for the cat to shred, or losing 15 pounds by March - my efforts would be better served by changing my general attitude about life. My inspiration? My quirky Border collie, Scout.
I think if we all approached life with the same attitude that our dogs do we’d be happier and more content and enjoy healthier relationships with our friends, family, and the world at large. I’ve started writing a book on the subject (finish the book proposal, a resolution for 2008), but until then, here are some suggestions to get your new year started on the right foot (or paw). I call it the “Top Ten Life Lessons I’ve Learned From My Dog:”
1) Assume that everyone you meet already likes you and wants to be your friend.
2) Greet the day by showering kisses on whoever happens to be nearest your nose.
3) Assume that the best spot on the couch is meant just for you, and if someone is already sitting there assume they want you to snuggle with them.
4) Realize that sometimes your natural enemy can turn out to be your best friend.
5) When life sends a cold, wet, miserable blizzard make a pile of snowballs and play catch.
6) Just because something looks good enough to eat doesn’t mean it’s good for you.
7) If you’re too scared to leave the yard, you’ll never get to play in the good parks.
8) If you get dirty you’ll need to take a bath sooner or later, and the longer you wait the harder it will be to clean up the mess.
9) A wet kiss covers a multitude of sins.
10) When someone throws a ball, you’ll have more fun if you bring it back and share it than if you horde it for yourself under the kitchen table.
Even if you’re not a dog lover you can learn something from our four-legged friends. Always think the best of other people, forgive, love, and seek adventure. Approaching life with a positive attitude will spill over into everything you do, and you may find that without even realizing it, you’ve achieved your goals (and if you haven’t maybe they weren’t worthy goals to begin with).
May you enjoy a happy, healthy, and prosperous new year and may your days be filled with love, laughter and play!
(This column originally appeared in ByLine Magazine's January 2008 issue. (c) 2008 Joanne Brokaw, all rights reserved.)