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What Pets Can Truly Teach Us Humans

What Pets Can Truly Teach Us Humans

pets can teach us

    Having been a dog owner since 1979, I can claim with absolute confidence that pets have an uncanny ability to teach us humans certain things better than any person can. If you are willing to allow pets to become part of your personal development team, here are some of the things that they can teach you.

    True Unconditional Love

    Dogs are especially good at teaching us what unconditional love is. They love you no matter how much money you make, what kind of car you drive (or lack of one), how bad your hair is and what kind of day you’re having. When you come home, they are always glad to see you. They are always going to be with you no matter how rough life gets (in contrast to many humans unfortunately).

    This is true unconditional love.

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    Even if you accidentally hurt them during a grooming or nail clipping section, they always forgive you. All they ask for in return is food, shelter and attention. Dogs in particular, give you tons of love back and personally, I think us humans get a pretty darn good deal out of this arrangement.

    Teaching Us Responsibility

    Pets in general are great teachers of responsibility, especially for children. When a new pet arrives at home, very soon the kids will learn that there is a huge responsibility in pet ownership. That cute puppy or kitten is not like a stuffed toy that can be left alone when you are finished with it. Instead, it makes noise, it pees, poos and barfs. It also rips things up and requires a lot of consistent training.

    Failing to realize this responsibility has unfortunately resulted in many unwanted dogs and cats left abandoned at the animal shelters. This is a real tragedy. I personally think that all prospective pet owners should be educated on pet ownership before taking in a live pet.

    The successful households with pets who do learn a lot about how to properly care for them will be immensely rewarded. The kids who actively help in the care of pets will likely grow up to be responsible adults too.

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    The Tough Lesson Of Compassion

    Interestingly enough, we also learn about compassion through our pets but unfortunately, it is always a very difficult lesson as it is taught near the end of our beloved friends’ lives. I learned this lesson especially hard with my first dog Pepper.

    Pepper’s health was plunging pretty fast in his 15th year due to Cushing’s Syndrome. A specialist vet recommended against surgery because of Pepper’s age. Pepper soon became quite uncomfortable as he started to yelp on a frequent basis. I didn’t know what to do as I was confronted by this situation for the first time in my life. I was also too hesitant to put him to sleep as I thought that his discomfort would just be temporary.

    In fact, my own reaction was so bad that I actually got mad at him for being so noisy. Then one morning when I got up, my other dog Max was waiting for me at my bedroom door. This was quite unusual as my two dogs were usually together somewhere. I found Pepper in another part of my home as he had passed away during the night.

    Then I realized that my hesitation and delay in putting him to sleep, caused my precious friend unnecessary suffering. In fact, this is one of the very few regrets that I actually have in my life. I should have taken the right action as soon as Pepper was hurting.

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    This tough lesson of compassion enabled me never to make such a big mistake again. When it was time for Max to go, I listened to my vet. When he told me that Max was suffering, I didn’t hesitate this time. I did however, request that I be there.

    During the euthanasia procedure, I held Max so that I was the last thing he saw, smelled, heard and felt. I wanted him to know that somebody who loves him was there to say goodbye rather than to leave him alone with strangers in a cold, clinical animal hospital setting.

    This time, although extremely painful, I knew that I did the right thing out of compassion, thanks to the lesson Pepper taught me.

      Henry Peter Smith (Chris's puppy)

      Precious Lessons Our Pets Teach Us

      So you see, unconditional love, responsibility and compassion are very precious lessons that pets can teach us. As an author, I dedicated my books to Pepper and Max for being the greatest teachers I’ve ever had. And now I carry the lessons they taught me over to my current dogs, Chester and Roxie, a high maintenance brother-sister team (but extremely rewarding).

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      I really believe that pet ownership can play a big part in our personal development. As long as we do the right thing by getting properly educated about the realities of caring for them, pets can be among the greatest teachers in your life.

      I would love to get your thoughts on your own experiences with pets and how they have taught you as well. Please comment below.

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      Last Updated on November 18, 2020

      I’m Feeling Bored: 10 Ways to Conquer Boredom (and Busyness)

      I’m Feeling Bored: 10 Ways to Conquer Boredom (and Busyness)

      If you’re saying “I’m feeling bored,” it’s important to realize that boredom and feeling too busy are the same problem. Some people claim I’m being too ambitious trying to strike down chronic boredom and busyness at the same time. I’d argue that the only way to take them out is simultaneously.

      The problem stems from how you manage your attention. Both boredom and busyness stem from feeling there is a lack of quality in how you focus your attention.

      Boredom is feeling that there are too few high-quality ways to spend attention. Busyness is forced boredom. This means that you feel there are high quality ways to spend attention, but your attention is being stolen from you before you can use it.

      I’m Feeling Bored: It’s in Your Mind

      Feelings of boredom and busyness are subjective. You can’t look out in the world and claim it is busy or boring. To say these feelings are subjective is obvious, but that misses a key point. The real problem is quality.

      Being engaged, neither busy or bored, happens when your attention is focused on high-quality activities.

      You can probably remember times when you were completely engaged. This could have been working on a project you were passionate about, spending time with your family, sky diving or vacationing under the sun. Why were you engaged in these moments and not in others?

      A likely reason was because those experiences had a higher quality. They allowed you to enter into an immersive flow state, in which your entire consciousness was devoted to the activity.[1]

      In the best cases your entire reality revolves around what you are doing. You’ll understand what I mean if you’ve read Zen and the Art of Motorcycle Maintenance (which, I must admit, inspired most of these ideas).

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      Improving the Quality of Your Activities

      So how do you improve quality in your experiences when you’re saying “I’m feeling bored”? I believe there are two major ways you can do it: externally and internally. If you are chronically busy (and actively disliking the busyness) or bored, then you’ll need to tackle external and internal factors that contribute to these negative feelings.

      Here are some ways to consider improving quality in your experiences:

      Externally

      1. Plan Ahead

      Schedule your life to ensure there aren’t huge gaps or work overflows later. This can mean scheduling high-quality experiences if you find yourself frequently bored. It can also mean dividing large projects if you find yourself chronically busy.

      • Plan weekend activities for next month now. This not only gives you something to look forward to, but it also forces you to stay productive instead of just busy.
      • Map out what is placing demands on your time. Can you consolidate all your “busy work” (such as responding to emails) into one block of time instead of allowing it to cause constant interruptions in your day?

      2. Win-Win

      If you must perform an activity you think has low quality, you’re going to feel bored. Find ways to reorganize your life so that jobs, chores, and duties can become interesting, high-quality experiences.

      Turn mind-numbing chores into opportunities for growth and learning. For example, listen to an audio book or lecture on the commute to work or while you’re cleaning your house.

      3. Prioritize

      If you don’t manage time, you’ll never have enough of it. There are always more things to do than you have time for. Get your values straight so that the highest priorities are handled first and your life doesn’t get overtaken by the unimportant.

      Set a vision for your life, and determine how everything you do either contributes or detracts from that vision. Chances are, the things that don’t align with your vision are some of the same things that bore you. After you identify low-priority activities, you can try to make them more meaningful, or you can find ways to eliminate them.

      4. Put Quality of Experience First

      It is easy to get caught up in external goals that don’t fulfill their promises. Focus on goals that will give you a greater quality, not just a bigger paycheck or more status to brag about.

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      Set SMART (specific, measurable, achievable, relevant, and time-bound) goals that align with your life’s vision.[2]

      5. Escape the Motions

      Habits are a part of your life, but don’t let them become the only thing. Break out of your patterns if they aren’t giving you what you need. Instead of staying in, go out and meet new people on a Friday night. Just do something to get away from doing the same old thing.

      Schedule times to break from your routines. I thrive on having a routine most days, but I also give myself opportunities to break from sameness.

      Say “yes” to trying something new. Nothing spices up your day like trying something new.

      Internally

      Most of the ways to improve your quality of experience and conquer boredom are internal. Remember, it’s not just what you do, but also how you do it.

      1. Build an Inner World

      I’m not suggesting you create a complete rift between yourself and reality when you find yourself thinking “I’m feeling bored,” but also realize that if you can’t find quality in your immediate surroundings, you can find it within yourself.

      Solving internal problems, reviewing knowledge, coming up with new ideas, creating stories, or even planning for the future are all areas you can explore in the mind without any external stimuli.

      Use “boring” moments as opportunities to brainstorm. It’s a lot easier to cope with a humdrum reality if you’re able to use the time to explore possibilities within your mind.

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      If you’re really at a loss, you can imagine a story about 2-3 of the people and objects in your vicinity. This is a great way to exercise your creativity and sharpen your observation skills.

      2. Seek Quality in the Now

      Try starting small with some simple questions. What are you doing right now? What can you find that has value for you? Seeking quality right now allows you to find it even if your environment is bare or overloaded.

      Activities like waiting in line can be turned into moments of self-reflection or times to remind yourself of your vision.

      3. Don’t Resist

      Busyness and boredom could also be described as symptoms of resisting what is. Fully accepting whatever situation you are in and making the most of it is one way to conquer feeling bored.

      Resistance is something that can’t be done half-way. Either completely push away and seek quality elsewhere, or accept your surroundings and find it here.

      4. Unchain Yourself

      A lot of mental unease is caused because you feel forced to do something. You have to go to work, study for your test, do this or that. Realize that you don’t have to do anything, just accept different results. Freedom is in your mind.

      Weigh whether the activity causing your discomfort is essential or expendable. For example, paying your bills is non-negotiable, but you can opt to live a more modest lifestyle or actively search for a job you enjoy.

      Use a mantra to remind yourself of your freedom. “I am free” and “I have the power to change my circumstances” can reinforce the notion that you have choices.

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      5. Stop

      Boredom and feeling overloaded are both patterns. They are mental spirals you run on yourself that loop back on each other. If you just interrupt yourself for a few minutes and think more deeply about the problem, you can often come up with a good answer independent of these suggestions.

      Meditate your way out of boredom. Sometimes boredom and busyness are caused by feeling disconnected from what you are doing. Use meditation to ground yourself in the present.

      You can learn how to meditate here.

      Take up a gratitude practice. Whenever you’re feeling too bored or too busy, stop to think about all the things that are going well. Being able to simply say, “I got out of bed this morning,” and “I have food to eat,” help you take stock of your blessings.

      The Bottom Line

      As boredom and busyness arise from the same source, the same strategies can be used to tackle them and find a sweet spot of a balanced mindset. Find high-quality activities when you start saying “I’m feeling bored,” and you’ll be amazed at how quickly you can turn things around.

      More Tips on Tackling Boredom

      Featured photo credit: Siddharth Bhogra via unsplash.com

      Reference

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