Dogs (and Your 5th Grader) Are Smarter Than You

Dogs (and Your 5th Grader) Are Smarter Than You

I love my dogs. Life for them is so simple and pure. Maybe I'm oversimplifying, but I'm pretty confident that they aren't wasting their days worrying about what the other dogs in the neighborhood think of them. Or what kind of collar they hope I'll get for them so they can be the coolest pooch on the block. Their agenda is clear: Chill out. Play. Sleep. Eat. Get into a little trouble. Chase a cat.

What's on your agenda? I’m certain it's way, way more complicated than that. If you're like most people I coach and consult with, your list of worries takes over your agenda more days than not. Your list includes tactical, practical things like paying your bills, keeping your job, having groceries, making it to meetings on time, and so on. It also includes personal things, all rooted in our fears about measuring up to one standard or another. We spend our time distracted, disillusioned, and often depressed, even if not clinically. We are stressed out on the job and at home. We are medicated. We are surviving instead of thriving. We want more and are never satisfied with what we are literally killing ourselves to attain. Nothing is ever enough. Other people let us down, get in the way of our pursuit of happiness, and demand more of us that we feel capable of giving. We are searching for the answers but we aren't even sure we are asking the right questions.

Oh, to be a dog...if even for a day.

What can our dogs teach us?

  • When you're chilling out, chill out. When you're playing, play. In other words, be present. Live in the moment. Plan for the future, but don't live in it. Learn from the past but don't dwell on it. Wherever you are, whatever you're doing, be there. Don't waste the present moment chasing the moment you just left or fretting about the moment that hasn't arrived. Give the gift of all of your skills, knowledge, and abilities to the moment you're in and you'll reap abundance, and so will the world around you.
  • Never trust a dog to watch your sandwich. Even dogs know they can't be trusted to watch food for you. Why? Because they are hard wired to survive and getting enough to eat is crucial. So, if you leave your sandwich unattended with a dog nearby, who is to blame if they eat it? Not the dog. You. If you trust someone to not let you down, and they've let you down before, who is at fault if they "break" this trust? Not them. You.
  • Let crap go. If your fellow pack mate steals your food at breakfast, don't waste time being mad about it all day. Instead, guard it better tomorrow. When someone does something crappy to you and you make it the center of your world (a.k.a., feeding the drama), you're the one suffering. They usually couldn't care less. So, they made you suffer and then you're suffering LONGER? Dogs don't do this. They don't dwell. They live, they learn, and they move on.

Whether you're at work or at home, learn from our four-legged friends. Be present. Trust appropriately. Move on. You're not getting another today, so by all means, don't waste it, especially not on petty b.s. that doesn't deserve your attention. And maybe, just maybe, you'll be as smart as your dog. One thing I can promise: Follow these lessons and you'll be less stressed and more satisfied. It's not a rope toy or tennis ball, but it'll do.