Life Lessons Learnt From My Dog
#WednesDogDay – with Balasubramanyam! A most wondrous Gentleman I met about a year ago. He seldom publishes, and when he does, Joy ~ Tears ~ Learning ~ Happiness ~ Hearts Open and so much more begin to unravel. I am truly beyond words to share his wisdom with the World and his Sunlight!
I’ve been around dogs since my childhood and have always loved being in the company of our four-legged friends. I have never claimed to know it all about life and dogs. I’m that ‘Work in Progress’ that a lot of us truly are. However, it never dawned on me that I could potentially learn the most from one of my best friends in the whole world – my dog! Just like how there are many ways that our dogs express their love, there are just as many ways that we can learn from them. I never thought that the roles could be reversed, and my canine friend would be the one doing the teaching. Reverse mentoring, methinks.
One question about dogs that I’ve always asked myself is that if there is any being on earth that loves life as much as a dog does? I’m not too sure of the answer though.
I’m blessed to have one in my life for the last two years – I call him Sunlight – I know that’s not a typical two syllable name that dogs usually have. But why Sunlight? That’s a conversation for some time later. The lessons Sunlight taught me have piled up over time and I thought I should share these lest he stops teaching me anymore. Here’s what I learnt from him so far:
1. One of the best lessons I’ve learnt from Sunlight is about the importance of time. He, almost always, is excited to play catch or fetch. I throw the ball, he runs to retrieve it immediately and then waits for me to throw it again. Always ready and willing to play! As an adult, I have nearly forgotten just how important it is to create, find and cherish the playful moments in life. Sunlight tells me ‘Play like there’s no tomorrow’ through his unending enthusiasm.
2. I’m stubborn— my dog is not. When Sunlight gets into trouble either for tearing a book apart or chewing off my shoe, he gets screamed at. He sulks in a corner for not more than 5 minutes. And then he is in my face implying apology. A lot of us carry the burden of grudge for ages without realizing that we can lead a happier life without it. “Forgiveness is key”.
3. Another important lesson I’ve learnt from Sunlight is to live in the moment. He doesn’t have a big master plan for his life. I’m almost certain that he doesn’t worry about the past and isn’t anxious about the future. He lives right there in that very moment sniffing around everything in his way. As an adult, I wanted to have a reason for most things I did. Very often I’d ask ‘what’s the point of doing this?’ Turns out Sunlight isn’t even looking for a point! Smell the flowers, go for a walk, smile, put your phone down and fully experience the ‘here and now’, be grateful for everything life offers. If you’d like to be bold, then go ahead and stick your head out of the window while on a drive– enjoy the wind kissing your face! Sunlight does it every single time he gets to go on a drive. I think he is telling me ‘live in the moment’.
4. Being happy comes down to focusing on what you have rather than what you don’t or would like to have. For a lot of us, this is easier said than done. That’s because we’re programmed to take the good for granted and brood over what seems to be the best instead. Well… mostly. But not dogs. Every time I feed Sunlight, he acts as though it’s the first time he has ever seen food. Every time I grab the leash to take him out for a walk, he hops in a flurry of excitement. And every time I walk in the door, even if I just went to take the trash out, he is bursting with joy. He reminds me that even though something may be routine, we should always take time to appreciate that it’s a part of our lives and the life itself. In short, ‘Be grateful and remember to enjoy your food’
5. Obviously, dogs don’t have to deal with the stress of paying mortgage, not getting enough sleep, or the commitments that bog us down everyday. But they’re there to remind us that everything will be fine — even through the really stressful and busy times. Sunlight doesn’t care if the house is messy or the aircon isn’t working. He’s a great reminder that things will be fine, and that life doesn’t have to be perfect to be happy. Breathe, be calm and relax ‘it’s going to be okay’ says Sunlight.
6. If you’ve ever watched a dog twist and turn their head when you whistle at them or say something they like to hear, then that certainly means that they’re listening to you with intent or rapt attention. Sunlight too does this. A lot of the times, as humans, we aren’t necessarily the best of listeners. It is so easy to go on autopilot in a conversation, not truly listening to what the other person is saying. When someone tells you about a problem, practice really listening. Pay attention to what they say, rather than simply thinking about what you want to say next. So, ‘Remember to listen’.
7. As much as Sunlight loves to run around, he also knows how to take a break and just enjoy the quietness. We can learn a lot from seeing our dogs rest. There is something very calming and rewarding about making some quiet time for yourself, especially if you are feeling stressed or overwhelmed. A quiet space can give you the chance to think a situation through or even just declutter your head. So, when Sunlight is sitting in the balcony gazing through the empty space, I think he is there to ‘enjoy the quietness’.
8. Sunlight is not into critical thinking.
We need to trust our initial instincts of a situation or a person, before we let the mental chatter in the mind tell us that we’re wrong. Your gut instinct is usually correct. So, ‘Trust your instincts’.
9. Just like any dog, Sunlight loves without expecting anything in return. And he tells me to do more of that. It’s not about who love me more or who does what for me – it’s just love for love’s sake. And it’s so liberating to ‘Love unconditionally’
10. Dogs don’t judge people based on the colour of their skin, their gender or their sexual orientation. (Heck, our colour-blind canines can’t even see the shade of our skin all that well!) What dogs rely on…and what we should rely on too…in order to separate the good humans from the ones who need help are simply people’s personality traits and actions. It’s our smile and warmth that let dogs and other humans know that we are trustworthy. So, ‘don’t judge’ based on what’s obvious or apparent.
The love of sunshine ~ the lessons learned from sunshine
About Balasubramanyam: Each day, each moment of life could be our last! So let’s not waste it on trivial concerns.
Let’s make the moment matter with something that we care about. Let our intentions and actions be guided more by our hearts, and not always by our heads., Because happiness in life arises from a warm heart…and a wet nose! It’s more about the heart and less the ego!!!