The next time life seems to be going a little too fast or you are feeling more battered than your congressional representative, consider the following wisdom from an eleven year old. In this case, the pre-adolescent aged being is our dog, Buddy. A spry beagle mix that some might say he is “chubby,” Buddy doesn’t say much. He lets his actions speak for himself.
So, here are Buddy’s twelve strategies for a carefree enjoyable life.
1. Treat each experience as the first. Don’t take a day or an experience for granted. Each moment is a gift—even the ones that try our souls. For Buddy, each sunrise is the first one he has ever seen; each walk in the park has new wonders to offer for the first time—again.
2. Explore often. Buddy doesn’t wait for things to show up in front of him; he constantly wants to go off the traveled path and find something new. (One day we found him heading to McDonald’s for, we think, a Big Mac.) Explore your backyard, your neighborhood. Discover what has been in front of you for years.
3. Be curious. If you are going to be an explorer, you have to have a sense of curiosity. Buddy is never too busy to inspect a tree, a turtle, or a horseshoe crab. Ask questions; make a new friend; ask someone to show how to do something you have wanted to do for awhile.
4. Smile, greet, repeat. Buddy has never met any being he hasn’t liked. Never a growl or a sneer. Just a wag of the tail and a doggie handshake. No pretenses; just a “glad-to-meet-you-have-a-nice-day” greeting and parting. No long-winded posturing. The next meeting might just be two minutes down the beach but Buddy repeats the process….gladly. Think about that as you meet people during the day. Is it so hard to smile, say something pleasant–and then repeat?
5. Don’t miss a meal—or a snack. Buddy has mastered this lesson. He loves his food…our food…anyone’s food. Now, he is mannerly and won’t take it off your plate. But when invited he savors what he has before him. (OK. He devours it! But he does love every morsel.) I once heard the late Leo Buscaglia (author, speaker, professor) say that he remembered how meal time was a celebration for the family. Are we savoring our meals or do we wolf them down so we can move on to something else?
6. Bark as needed. Buddy, as even-tempered as he is, needs to exercise his bark from time to time. Yes, he loves to meet and greet (see #4 above), but he will let you know if you have trespassed and messed with his good graces. Remember, Buddy does not bite—he barks. And since he does not do it often, when he does, we pay attention. At times a well-placed bark can help us, too. Don’t let people disrespect you. Use your bark judiciously; don’t hit; let people know your boundaries and their limits. (See my blog post “Know Your Boundaries—Know Your Limits”.)
7. Pull at the leash. We have a leash law in Atlantic Beach. Truth be told, law or not, we would have Mr. Buddy on a leash. Otherwise he would be NTG (nose-to-ground) and gone! He has learned to walk well on a leash; but he always tugs just a little bit. And I respect that. Have you ever felt restricted by rules that did not seem to fit who you were? A little tug at the collar let’s you know you’re alive. Buddy is never ugly about it. He just lets us know when he needs a little extra room to explore (see #2 above).
8. Nap as needed. I have heard people say that dogs sleep about twenty hours a day. That might be a little on the light side for Buddy. He loves his shut-eye time. Research studies have shown that napping can have a powerful regenerative affect on bodies and minds. My musician friends have sworn by a power nap of thirty minutes or so each day. Buddy is the master of the power nap. When was the last nap you took?
9. Enjoy a massage. Buddy loves to have his tummy scratched and rubbed—by anybody. While I would not advise that you roll over on your back and beg your boss for a tummy rub, maybe a therapeutic massage would be just the thing to relax yourself, soothe your muscles, and drain away the stress.
10. Unconditionally love. Buddy doesn’t set conditions for us. He doesn’t keep score. Each time we walk in the house, the tail wags, the eyes brighten, and he runs to us. (See #1 above). Love those around you. Yes, they may infuriate you; but did you ever think about how infuriating you might be? And they still love you.
11. Hold no grudges. This connects with #10 above. Even though I might have a bad day, and might not give him the attention he deserves, Buddy forgives readily. I don’t think it is in his character to hold a grudge. How often do we humans waste time ruminating on the past? We live in the present as we move to our future.
12. Licks of love. OK, I can hear you snickering. But Buddy is the master of licks of love. He will kiss anyone at anytime. (He is an Italian dog…I am convinced.) If he could hug, I know he would do that, too. No agendas; no manipulation. Just a genuine embrace. How many people long for one—but have no one to share a heartfelt hug?
Buddy wishes you all a great week!
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