Why Stress? Live Life Like a Dog
I spent the day at work stressing out about a lot of things that are well beyond my control. In fact, I do that a lot. I always want to have a solution for every problem that could ever possibly go wrong before it goes wrong. I spend so much time obsessing about all the things that could go wrong, I forget that 90% of the things I worry about, never happen. Somehow I still manage to get caught up in this “what if” trap of improbabilities that are literally killing my creativity and my ability to focus on the things that really matter. It’s exhausting. So today, I came home, poured myself a nice glass of wine, grabbed my laptop, and headed out to my front porch to write this blog, hoping that just maybe I could clear my head and try to figure out how to stop the insanity.
As I was beginning to type, my yellow lab Lily caught my eye when she grabbed a stick from the brush and started jumping around like crazy, flipping the stick in the air and catching it, so excited that she could barely contain herself. Over a STICK. Or maybe because she’s outside, in the sun and warm weather for the first time in months. (It’s been a long, dark, cold winter.) Her sheer happiness over something so simple, so insignificant…stopped me in my tracks.
Then, it dawned on me. My dog just revealed something to me that I somehow have missed until today. I realized in that moment that she has it all figured out. She gets it. The greatest joys in life can be found in the simplest things. All we have to do is take a moment and experience them. In all the chaos that happens in the course of the day, we often dwell on the things that seem significant, but really aren’t. We kill ourselves wondering “what if”, instead of stopping for a moment to experience “what is”. We forget there is a whole world out there, waiting for us to explore, experience and appreciate. A world of significance that costs us nothing. All it takes is intentional discovery.
This defining moment; Lily in her sheer elation flipping a stick in the air, triggered something profound in me. A simple moment really, the catalyst for me to start thinking about how silly we must look from a dog’s perspective. Dogs have no concept of an intense workday, what it feels like to be needed all day by your children, to spend all day running around from one task to another, barely catching a break and then coming home, only to spend more time on chores, homework, or any other thing you do that takes you away from life’s simple pleasures. Dogs only have one job — to love unconditionally. How they choose to do that takes on many forms; tossing a stick in the air with sheer joy. Sitting beside you as your companion as you work, laugh or cry. Looking in your eyes and showing you that no matter how chaotic your day is, they are there for you and only want you to love them back in the same way they love you. Waiting for you at the door as you walk through it, only to greet you with a wag of a tail and an excitement that many of us have forgotten in the midst of all the wasted“filler” that is consuming our lives.
I am grateful for the reminder my dog gave me today. She reminded me to stop for a moment and take time to smell the flowers. Rejoice in the sunshine. Walk in the woods. Lay in the grass. Look for shapes in the clouds. Walk barefoot in the sand. Smell. Taste. Touch. Listen. Feel. But most importantly, forget the stress, find your stick, and just love.