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Learn FromYour Pets and Get Healthier Too!

Learn FromYour Pets and Get Healthier Too!

    “A dog has a lot of friends because he wags his tail and not his tongue.” – Anonymous

    Even if they do not know it, pets can teach us a lot about life and happiness. No matter what kind of hair day we are having, how deflated we feel, or whether or not we said or did something stupid, they love us anyway. Nothing is going to keep them away from wanting to nuzzle up to you and lick your face – no matter what!

    For instance, you do not need to actually have a dog to appreciate the appeal of being greeted at the door with a wagging tail, eager to greet you like you are the most important person in the world.

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    • Pets do not judge you and find fault — they accept you as you are unconditionally.
    • Since they do not judge, they will not notice or remember what you did wrong and therefore will never remind you!
    • They don’t ask for much more than the basics — food, shelter and your company – they take what they can get!
    • They have mastered the art of radical acceptance and unconditional love.
    • They show appreciation and can give love without expecting much in return
    • They are living in the moment — they do not get hung up on what happened, what might have happened, and what might happen in the future.

    Learning from what pets can teach us will keep you focused on many key ingredientsfor success in relationships and in life: love, acceptance, forgiveness, compassion, loyalty and a total focus on today.

    There is also considerable evidence that pets are actually good for your health. Medical issues ranging from high blood pressure, depression and even allergies have been shown to be alleviated by having pets. Yes — even allergies!

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    Despite the common notion that pets and people who are allergic do not jive, in actuality studies that shown that infants who grow up in a homes with furry friends are actually are less likely to be allergic to pets. Researcher James Gem, M.D. states that actually children growing up with furred animals have less incidence of eczema and stronger immune systems. Drs. Rita and Blair Justice of University of Texas medical center even compare petting a dog with eating chocolate, claiming both have been are helpful in releasing the “feel-good” chemicals like serotonin that and other brain chemicals that they measured while studying the effects of pets on the brain.

    Pets can even improve your work life. Having pets in the office have actually been shown to increase productivity as well as morale! I assume, of course, they need to be the well-behaved type!

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    And don’t forget (of course) that pets are a date magnet, and a wonderful social lubricant to meet friends and break into conversations with a cute focal point that already makes people smile!

    So next time you want a health or social boost, or are anchored down by regrets and misgivings of the past, reach for a pet and feel good!

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    My question to you: Would your life be different if you followed the lessons of acceptance, unconditional love and present-centeredness that pets can teach you? If so, how? I’d love to hear your thoughts in the comments.

    (Photo credit: Young Gorl Happy to Lay With Dog via Shutterstock)

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    Judy Belmont

    Mental health author, motivational speaker and psychotherapist

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    Last Updated on January 21, 2020

    The Best Way to Create a Vision for the Life You Want

    The Best Way to Create a Vision for the Life You Want

    Creating a vision for your life might seem like a frivolous, fantastical waste of time, but it’s not: creating a compelling vision of the life you want is actually one of the most effective strategies for achieving the life of your dreams. Perhaps the best way to look at the concept of a life vision is as a compass to help guide you to take the best actions and make the right choices that help propel you toward your best life.

    your vision of where or who you want to be is the greatest asset you have

      Why You Need a Vision

      Experts and life success stories support the idea that with a vision in mind, you are more likely to succeed far beyond what you could otherwise achieve without a clear vision. Think of crafting your life vision as mapping a path to your personal and professional dreams. Life satisfaction and personal happiness are within reach. The harsh reality is that if you don’t develop your own vision, you’ll allow other people and circumstances to direct the course of your life.

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      How to Create Your Life Vision

      Don’t expect a clear and well-defined vision overnight—envisioning your life and determining the course you will follow requires time, and reflection. You need to cultivate vision and perspective, and you also need to apply logic and planning for the practical application of your vision. Your best vision blossoms from your dreams, hopes, and aspirations. It will resonate with your values and ideals, and will generate energy and enthusiasm to help strengthen your commitment to explore the possibilities of your life.

      What Do You Want?

      The question sounds deceptively simple, but it’s often the most difficult to answer. Allowing yourself to explore your deepest desires can be very frightening. You may also not think you have the time to consider something as fanciful as what you want out of life, but it’s important to remind yourself that a life of fulfillment does not usually happen by chance, but by design.

      It’s helpful to ask some thought-provoking questions to help you discover the possibilities of what you want out of life. Consider every aspect of your life, personal and professional, tangible and intangible. Contemplate all the important areas, family and friends, career and success, health and quality of life, spiritual connection and personal growth, and don’t forget about fun and enjoyment.

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      Some tips to guide you:

      • Remember to ask why you want certain things
      • Think about what you want, not on what you don’t want.
      • Give yourself permission to dream.
      • Be creative. Consider ideas that you never thought possible.
      • Focus on your wishes, not what others expect of you.

      Some questions to start your exploration:

      • What really matters to you in life? Not what should matter, what does matter.
      • What would you like to have more of in your life?
      • Set aside money for a moment; what do you want in your career?
      • What are your secret passions and dreams?
      • What would bring more joy and happiness into your life?
      • What do you want your relationships to be like?
      • What qualities would you like to develop?
      • What are your values? What issues do you care about?
      • What are your talents? What’s special about you?
      • What would you most like to accomplish?
      • What would legacy would you like to leave behind?

      It may be helpful to write your thoughts down in a journal or creative vision board if you’re the creative type. Add your own questions, and ask others what they want out of life. Relax and make this exercise fun. You may want to set your answers aside for a while and come back to them later to see if any have changed or if you have anything to add.

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      What Would Your Best Life Look Like?

      Describe your ideal life in detail. Allow yourself to dream and imagine, and create a vivid picture. If you can’t visualize a picture, focus on how your best life would feel. If you find it difficult to envision your life 20 or 30 years from now, start with five years—even a few years into the future will give you a place to start. What you see may surprise you. Set aside preconceived notions. This is your chance to dream and fantasize.

      A few prompts to get you started:

      • What will you have accomplished already?
      • How will you feel about yourself?
      • What kind of people are in your life? How do you feel about them?
      • What does your ideal day look like?
      • Where are you? Where do you live? Think specifics, what city, state, or country, type of community, house or an apartment, style and atmosphere.
      • What would you be doing?
      • Are you with another person, a group of people, or are you by yourself?
      • How are you dressed?
      • What’s your state of mind? Happy or sad? Contented or frustrated?
      • What does your physical body look like? How do you feel about that?
      • Does your best life make you smile and make your heart sing? If it doesn’t, dig deeper, dream bigger.

      It’s important to focus on the result, or at least a way-point in your life. Don’t think about the process for getting there yet—that’s the next stepGive yourself permission to revisit this vision every day, even if only for a few minutes. Keep your vision alive and in the front of your mind.

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      Plan Backwards

      It may sound counter-intuitive to plan backwards rather than forwards, but when you’re planning your life from the end result, it’s often more useful to consider the last step and work your way back to the first. This is actually a valuable and practical strategy for making your vision a reality.

      • What’s the last thing that would’ve had to happen to achieve your best life?
      • What’s the most important choice you would’ve had to make?
      • What would you have needed to learn along the way?
      • What important actions would you have had to take?
      • What beliefs would you have needed to change?
      • What habits or behaviors would you have had to cultivate?
      • What type of support would you have had to enlist?
      • How long will it have taken you to realize your best life?
      • What steps or milestones would you have needed to reach along the way?

      Now it’s time to think about your first step, and the next step after that. Ponder the gap between where you are now and where you want to be in the future. It may seem impossible, but it’s quite achievable if you take it step-by-step.

      It’s important to revisit this vision from time to time. Don’t be surprised if your answers to the questions, your technicolor vision, and the resulting plans change. That can actually be a very good thing; as you change in unforeseeable ways, the best life you envision will change as well. For now, it’s important to use the process, create your vision, and take the first step towards making that vision a reality.

      Featured photo credit: Matt Noble via unsplash.com

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