Life is hard. It doesn’t magically grant success when we want it and to achieve anything worthwhile, we have to work toward it relentlessly. Life doesn’t believe in handouts. It pulls you in conflicting directions and tests your determination to succeed constantly.
To top it all off, no two people have the exact same definition of success. Success is that mysterious unicorn we are all striving toward and yet, every single person you ask has a different idea of what it is and how to get there.
We get too caught up in meeting outside definitions of success. We judge ourselves by what our friends and colleagues are doing and try to adhere to those standards. The main problem with that is that their answer is often starkly different from ours and we get frustrated because our expectations aren’t met.
As with a lot of awesome things, effective lessons often come from unexpected places. It’s time to look at the one creature that lives in the moment and see how it’s done.
If puppies could talk, these are the five lessons they’d impart in their napping, face licking wisdom:
1. Enjoy the moment
Don’t be so focused on your goals for the future that you forget to live today. When you are working toward your dream career and your dream life the “now” often feels boring and petty. It’s just a long to do list, with endless tasks you haven’t done yet. “Now” is frustrating because you aren’t where you want to be.
Planning is great but, if you lose track of the present, you are in danger of missing out on some pretty wonderful stuff. Take a breath, drop that list for a second and be present. What are you grateful for right now? What’s amazing about your life today? This exact moment is never going to come back around, don’t miss the opportunity to revel in it.
“Be happy for this moment. This moment is your life.” – Omar Khayyam
2. Take the time to do nothing every day
Our lives are busy. We are in a state of constant motion; going to meetings, checking our phones, answering emails and running errands. There’s always something competing for your attention. It’s exhausting. Puppies, on the other hand, spend about 30% of their day doing nothing.
They are onto something. Spending time being mindful and not doing anything helps us process what’s going on and quiets the noise in our minds. According to a study by the North Arizona University, it decreases stress and depression and increases overall well being and happiness.
So, next time it feels like the walls are closing in on you, be like a puppy and truly enjoy a few minutes of just existing.
3. Do something goofy
Puppies roll on their backs, paws flailing above them, pawing at the air, mouth open, tongue rolling out, laughing.
Laughing often and consistently is pretty much one of the best things you can do for your health. It decreases stress and pain and makes the world seem like a better place. Laughing anchors us to a particular moment in time and allows us appreciate the small moments of joy.
4. Be fully present when you meet new people
My dog treats every other puppy he sees as a long lost friend he can’t wait to be with again and, most of the time, the response is incredibly similar. He doesn’t think about why that pup may not like him or might not be in the mood. He puts himself out there.
What does meeting new people have to do with mindfulness? Everything. We get into our own way when making connections. We bring baggage from past experiences and difficult encounters and unwittingly, create a protective barrier between us and the other person.
Focusing on the moment and on that new person gives a clean(ish) slate and allows for more honest communication.
“I love meeting new people; I think everyone has a story to tell. We should all listen sometimes.” – Kim Smith
5. Greet every day with excitement
When was the last time every new day felt like a fresh opportunity filled with countless possibilities? These days, it’s easy to let time roll in on itself as days become weeks and months and years. We feel constantly busy and overwhelmed and time flies by us until one day we look back and wonder and think, “Where did all that time go?”
The dawn of each new day is an opportunity to start again. To get closer to your goals. To forgive yourself for the mistakes you made yesterday and think about the difference you can make today.