Do You Follow Rigby’s Rules?

What my dog taught me about living a happy, more balanced life

Meet Rigby.

He’s our 5-year-old yellow lab who thinks he’s a puppy. (He also thinks he’s a lap dog, but who am I to tell him otherwise?)

Since I work out of my home, Rigby is my near constant companion. And though he doesn’t talk, Rigby has taught me plenty about living a happier, productive, more balanced life. He’ll teach you, too, provided you follow his rules.

Start the Day Doing Something You Love

This is different for everyone. It could be doing something creative, like writing or painting, or carving out some time to be alone with your thoughts. Maybe you love early morning walks or having breakfast with your family. If you’re Rigby, it might mean riding along in the car with Mom on a latte run to Peet’s, ears flapping in the breeze. Whatever brings you joy. Do that.

When You’re Doing Something, Be Focused on That One Thing

When we adopted Rigby, we were told that he was being trained to be a search and rescue dog because he possessed the rare quality of singular focus. These days, the only thing that he searches for is his Chuck-It ball. But that pup could fetch for hours, and all the while maintain an intense focus on that ball.

Distractions are everywhere. These days it’s so easy to shift your focus from the task at hand to almost anything else. Or worse, multitask your way through your day.

When you’re listening to someone, give him or her your full attention. (Yes, put down your phone.) When you’re working on something, eliminate everything else so you can focus, even if that means closing down emails, social media and the like. You’ll be far more efficient and do a better job at whatever you choose to focus.

Breaks Are Important

No one can be intensely focused all of the time. Not even Rigby. He knows the importance of building breaks in your day. To recharge. Refresh. And fill the tank for the next round of tasks.

You might not have the luxury of a nap, but you can get up from your chair, get a glass of water, or head outside for a few minutes. A short break can do wonders. Trust me.

Be Sweet… but Persistent

Imagine looking over your shoulder and seeing this face: Rigby, smiling and eager to get your attention. Hard to resist, right?

Rigby rarely barks. He sticks with his pleasant demeanor and wagging tail, trying to achieve his goals (which probably include taking a trip to the park). He eventually wears me down, but I never feel like he’s a pest. Sweet but persistent wins every time.

Many of us have to chase down leads, clients, and colleagues in the course of our daily lives. Remember that rather than strong-arming someone to comply, you can adopt a softer, gentler approach. You won’t feel so exasperated, and I’m guessing you’ll achieve your goals even faster because the other party won’t feel like you’ve been hounding them.

If You Screw Up, Own It — Immediately

In those rare instances where Rigby has done something wrong — usually eating something he shouldn’t — he fesses up before I’ve even had a chance to witness the crime. He’ll come to me, head low and tail slowly wagging with those sad eyes silently begging for forgiveness. Uh oh. I’ll immediately know that something went down.

Nobody’s perfect. But how you handle a misstep says a lot about you. Taking responsibility — right away — lets others know that you are proactive and willing to be vulnerable to find a solution, rather than pointing fingers or pretending something never happened.

Protect Your Pack and Remind Them That They Matter

In Rigby’s mind, the biggest threats to his pack (his family) are the squirrels that dare to venture into our yard. When he senses danger, he immediately springs into action and chases them away, protecting us from their evils.

Rigby is also very affectionate. Like most labs, he wants to be near you, and when he is, he’ll take that opportunity to demonstrate his affection by either placing a paw on your knee or planting a slobbery smooch on you. Messy, yes. But also pretty awesome.

Though your pack might take various forms — family, friends, colleagues — everyone likes to feel like someone has their back. That they’re appreciated. That they matter. Try taking a few minutes to let the members of your pack know that they are important to you. Compliment a job well done. Say thank you. Stick up for them when they need it most. Show them how grateful you are that they are part of your life.

But maybe leave the slobbery smooches to Rigby.

© Amy Blaschka, 2017

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Amy is the president of rbp consulting, a consultancy specializing in helping organizations in transition. When she’s not involved in some sort of makeover, you’ll find her…unhappy. She enjoys being a badass writer, playing co-ed volleyball, and pretending she has her own HGTV show.

She’d like to write more, but Rigby says it’s time to go to the park. And she’s learned it’s best to listen to the wisdom of Rigby. Read more about them at rbpconsulting.org

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