A Dog’s Life
3 min –
You don’t have to be a canine lover or canine owner to appreciate the joy, engagement and utter delight that dogs bring to nearly everything they experience.
I am a dog owner and lover, and have often found awe and joy in watching my dogs just love life. Recently, my two Golden Retrievers, Nilla and Posey, taught me a valuable lesson that prompted these thoughts.
I’m working from Lake Tahoe for a while – a welcome retreat from the city and a place that provides respite and inspiration for me. And of course, the lake is a magnet for retrievers – which presents a constant challenge in managing them here.
At home in San Francisco, we have a fenced-in yard; here, the back doors open up to the lawn that goes right down to the lake. And Nilla, the puppy, has still not learned good recall, so I always have to have her on a leash. Despite that, she wants to run and play and drag me along.
So at first, every time I had them out, I found myself hurrying them along, not letting them sniff, chew and explore as they love to do. I was consistently getting tangled up in their leashes; twice I missed my step on the rocky beach and twisted my ankle. I was becoming more and more impatient, thinking of everything that was waiting for me back at my desk, yelling at them to move along. I had work to do.
Then one day I just stopped. I looked at the glass-like lake, the pure blue sky, the bloom of everything around us now that summer is nearly here. And I saw Nilla and Posey totally absorbed in whatever pine cone, or duck feather or stick happened to be on their path. I realized they were finding a way to enjoy these somewhat torturous outings – even if I was not.
And why? Because dogs live in the moment. They don’t worry about the past or stress about the future. They focus on whatever is in front of them; they take advantage of the moment.
This isn’t to say that action and planning aren’t valuable, but we often miss opportunities that are in plain sight when we just go-go-go from one thing to another.
What can we learn from their experience?
My suggestion: begin to practice appreciation of being in the moment by selecting one or two activities you know you will be doing this week. It could be exercising, playing with your kids, talking with a colleague. Focus on what is happening, be fully present, enjoy the moment. This will help you build the discipline to make it a more regular practice – one that will help you develop the strategic awareness to see what is possible, instead of automatically moving from one thing to another.
If the pandemic has taught us anything, it is the value of appreciating what we have, not what we lack; of having understanding and empathy for all creatures; of stopping to reflect and know there is more to life than just checking the boxes – that we are consciously making choices to leverage all the possibilities in our lives.
Posey and Nilla know what it means to be in the moment. Time for me to take note.
Roberta A. LaPorte, Organizational Consultant
After spending 25 years leading Fortune 50 organizations and technology start-ups, Bobbie draws on positive psychology and her experience as a six-time Ironman triathlons finisher to help organizations navigate uncertainty and get ready for anything. Learn more »
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