I’m a great believer in modelling excellence. If you want to run faster, find out how Usain Bolt trains. If you want to become a pop star, find out how Ed Sheeran went from busking to playing Wembley.
So, if I want to be happier, who else would I model myself on but my dog Sky? No offence to cats (I’ve had them all my life) but they can be a bit tetchy. I mean have you ever tried to get your cat to the vets and come away unscathed?
Dogs on the other hand, are pretty happy as a general rule. And this is because they live in the present. They don’t hold on to what happened yesterday, and they don’t worry about what tomorrow may bring – they just are.
Here’s my guide to happiness, courtesy of Sky:
- Get out in nature more
Sky loves nothing more than going out for a walk – whatever the weather. She’ll stop to smell the plants (and pee on them but I’m not advocating that) and kick up the leaves. If she’s not out walking, she’ll be out in the garden, holding her face up to the sun. She knows that being out in nature is good for the soul.
- Move your body more
Sky loves to run and chase balls, when she’s at full pelt she’s a sight to behold. And throw her duck in the water and she’s in heaven! Physical exercise is good for the mind as well as the body as it increases serotonin and other ‘feel-good’ chemicals.
- Rest is just as important as exercise
Yes, she loves to run, but afterwards she’ll happily snooze the afternoon away. She’s not looking at her to-do-list, checking her emails or worrying about all the housework that needs doing. Our brains are designed to work for 8 hours, rest for 8 hours and sleep for 8 hours. That may seem impossible in today’s world, but scheduling rest and down-time is really important. Some of my clients who have insomnia are simply taking on too much. You need to rest if you want to sleep well.
- Eat what you need and no more
Ok it may be different for Labradors, but German Shepherds are great at regulating their food intake. If Sky overeats one day (well if Grandma is offering sausages it would be rude to refuse!) then she’ll eat less the next day. Food is fuel, and because dogs live in the moment, they’re not emotional eaters like many of us! Eat if you’re hungry and stop if you’re not.
- Live in the moment
Dogs live in the present, they don’t fret about what’s already happened or worry about the next day; they don’t hold grudges or take things personally. They very much live in the moment. Most of the clients I see with anxiety readily admit that they spend a large part of the time worrying about the future or going over the past. These thought patterns are never helpful, and they can be changed.
So, thanks to Sky for teaching me some valuable lessons! And While I’m on the subject consider getting a pet if you don’t already have one (for life not just for Christmas!) They’re great for reducing stress levels, improving your mood and lowering your blood pressure!