Oscar is our puppy. He’s a yellow Labrador Retriever and is almost 8 months old. He arrived in our lives last October, as a cute, 8-week old bundle of love and play.
He’s completely changed our lives for the better. My life is so much richer than it used to be. Not that it wasn’t before, it’s just there seems to be more of it now.
1) Live in the now
Dogs don’t regret the past or ruminate about the future. They just live here, now, in this moment, doing whatever they are doing, responding to whatever is happening around them.
How much time do we spend in the past or the future? How much ‘now time’ do we waste by going over what happened yesterday, last week, last month, last year, or by worrying about what might happen tomorrow? When we do this, we lose some of the precious moments that are happening now because we’re really just in our heads most of the time.
2) It’s good to play
As humans, I think we forget this. In the modern, fast-paced world, it seems to be all work and very little play. Some people forget how to laugh because playtime is not regular enough.
I’ve learned to laugh a lot more since Oscar arrived. Even though I have lots of work to do, I do it with a much more relaxed attitude, which is far healthier.
It’s also good for the heart. Playing with a dog generates oxytocin, a cardioprotective hormone that helps to widen our arteries and clear them out of free radicals.
3) I’m worthy of love
Oscar loves to be in contact with us. If he’s sleeping at my feet in the lounge, if I get up to make some tea, he gets up too and follows me into the kitchen before continuing his sleep on top of my feet as I’m boiling the kettle. I feel so bad when I have to move back into the lounge, because he gets up again and follows me, back through to take up his former sleeping position.
Once, when he was a puppy and wanted to snuggle up beside me on the sofa, I had a strange thought: “Why does he love me so much? How could he? I’m nothing special.” It was one of the first times that I realised I had a self-love deficit going on, but his presence encouraged me to learn that I am worthy of love, as are you, dear reader! He was one of the reasons I wrote the book, ‘I Heart Me: The Science of Self Love’, (Hay House, October 2013).
4) Most of our problems are in our heads
Dogs just deal with whatever is happening. We tend to analyse and try to work out what it all means. OK, we do have problems in our lives, but the same situation can be felt and dealt with in different ways by two different people. This tells us that it’s not so much the problem itself, but our thinking about the problem that makes it worse.
5) Our greatest teachers are closer than we think
Many readers of this blog most likely have an interest in the self-help/mind-body-spirit/science fields, especially if you’re familiar with my writings, because I span all three.
Many of us are workshop junkies or read dozens of these kinds of books a year, absorbing the teachings of the speaker or author, looking for the final pieces of the puzzle that can make us whole.
I now understand why some people are always saying, ‘Did you know that Dog is God spelled backwards?’ I get it now. It’s so simple, yet profound. It’s a little reminder that the answers to many of our problems are closer than we think.
I feel that I have gently and gradually grown in wisdom and spiritual awareness over the past decade, but being with Oscar has led to a quickening of the pace, to more breakthroughs in my life in this small segment of time than I’ve had in the previous decade. It’s not intellectual, but experiential, as I’m often forced to search inside myself for more self-love and more love to give, for more courage, for more tenderness, and to simplify my life by simplifying my thinking.