When I think about my dog, I think about his oversized dome of a head and the millions of positive thoughts creating reactions in his brain that spawn a full body tail wagging dance- robust enough to propel wind or whack a wine glass off the living room table. It’s amazing how such a species could do everything in life with so much gusto and enthusiasm, even if it’s taking a dump. I’m amused.
Unlike our canine counter parts- as humans I know we’re not expected to be all butterflies and rainbows everyday. But if you’re a dog parent, I’m sure you can relate when I say I am constantly catching my dog looking at me ( often when I’m working at my desk ) judging me trying to predict my thoughts. It’s as if he’s wondering why I’m not uni-corns and gummy-bears twenty-four-seven? Really. It gives me anxiety.
I always assume he’s thinking one of two things: 1) When are we going out for fresh air or 2) What can I do to make you happy, Mom? May I get you anything? How bout I lay a wet one on ya!
Is my dog worried about me? What is wrong with me? Why am I even worried about this?
Now, as embarrassing as it is to share those thoughts, I feel compelled to share this as I imagine I am not the only single female dog parent to have thoughts like this. This idea consumes my mind because as a pet and animal behavior enthusiast, I believe animals ( particularly pets ) feed off the energy of their handler. I worry my negative thoughts are reflecting on the mood of my dog. Is this even possible? Are we the energy we surround ourselves in?
The first thing I would like to highlight before I go any further is that I love my dog Jack, more than words can describe. He’s brought so much joy to my life, I can’t imagine what my world would like without his graceful presence. However, lately I’ve been feeling anxiety brought on by the stressers of life causing me to sometimes not feel like making that end of the day trip to the dog park. It’s the moment when the mental decision has been made we are skipping dog park, my resentment towards my dog Jack begins to surface. I undergo the guilt of being a grumpy pet parent. The strange thing though- is my crabbiness has been noticeably reflective on the mood of my dog Jack. Not out of disappointment that we’re not going to the park- but more he’s concerned as to why? Why we aren’t going to the park? Why doesn’t Mom want to go?
Like any normal human being, my mind is constantly processing thoughts of possibilities, thoughts of concerns of uncertainty. I dwell on the direction of my career path. Should I be concerned about wifing a man up? Have I successfully filtered people in my life who are genuinely happy and supportive of my work ( even when I’m in my darkest days) from the people who use me? Have I serviced my community to the best of my available ability? Will Dumb and Dumber To be as funny as the original? The last one rarely frequents my mind, but truthfully whatever the thought is, apparently it shows on my face and its energy is evoking a strong emotional response on my dog.
Instead of playing with his toys, Jack has been pouting laying silent and nuzzling my legs. All. The. Time. As if he’s worried about me. It’s rare for Jack to have clingy issues- which is why I honestly think he is concerned about me. My blow up at the park last week didn’t help convince him to think otherwise.
Last week at the dog beach my temper, patience and sanity was tested, which failed miserably. I lost it on Jack. In public. He was giving me trouble about leashing him up as we were leaving the park. 9 out 10 times Jack will be a breeze to leash up, but that particular day he thought it was funny I chase him around the park on our way out. People were laughing at me as I struggled grab a hold of his collar, during a moment when I had zero patience to play games. I lost it all. I started shouting at him in front of everyone and even gave a small beating to his derrière when we made it back to the car. There it was – a domino effect of my inner most pessimistic thoughts snow balling up to a point where it turned what is usually an activity that brings me joy, to an actual head ache.. and that is what concerned me most.
By the time the weekend came around, Jack cooled down from being publicly scolded and forgave me. Since then I stopped to re-evaluate the situation and the thoughts that had been fueling my attitude. I don’t know why I made such a big deal about leashing Jack. It ended up only taking me a few minutes to do so. Why did I lash out the way I did? Why did I let so much frustration foster causing me to explode at dog park? I am not easily embarrassed so I knew it had to do with my negative mood.
Why am I so hard on myself when I fail at the most simple of things? Why can’t I do the job I expect of myself? Am I being too hard on myself? Maybe I’d be better off if I went to grad-school. Ugh.
However- an epiphany has recently answered my questions. It has occurred to me that- I control my own thoughts.
The point to this incredibly long post is I realized I don’t suck at life- and that it is the mental perception I have on myself that sucks. The direction and mood that sets the tone of our lives is determined by the opinions we respond to. While some of those opinions are external, most of our struggles come from opinions which are internal. We are our own worst critic and it’s exhausting us. We constantly beat ourselves up and our real enemies are the negative thoughts in our minds. We are, in fact, the energy we surround ourselves in.
( Light bulb picture insert here )
After reflecting on this thought I have decided to stop bullying myself and give myself credit for the amazing things I have accomplished. I can’t let what I presumed of my life to keep me from what God wants me to experience. That maybe life is not how we expect but we should trust that God has something to teach us through our experiences. Be aggressive and eager about life, but also be patient and trust everything in life will turn out the way it should, for a reason. We should open ourselves up to life’s lessons and opportunities to grow and change.
And above all, we should channel positive vibes and THINK HAPPY THOUGHTS.
Happy thoughts are what will protect us from destroying an optimistic state of mind our conscious naturally exudes. Happy sight, happy mind.
A great stress reliever at the end of a long day that always lifts my spirits and requires no deep thought- just an i-pod and physicality, is The Athletes Way. Take Fido for a run and allow fresh air and wind in your face be your MDMA. Like animals, humans seek pleasure to compromise pain. The study of evolutionary biology has confirmed physical exercise produces hundreds of chemical neurological reactions in our brains that create a bliss making us feel better and motivating our maximum human potential. An balance of these neurochemicals is constantly disrupted by our modern lives, making us more prone to depression, anxiety and malcontent. The premise of The Athlete’s Way is through sweat and the biology of bliss through daily physicality that gives us the power to instantly make ourselves happy. This a lesson I could have learned from my dog who reacts to running, romping and playing daily with pure ecstasy. Different people find relaxation in various ways. I personally love decompressing after a long day with a scenic run or walk on the beach with Jack.
Remember to stay focused, stay hungry and always think happy thoughts. I am leaving you with another powerful lesson everyone could learn from a dog, woof.
No matter what life brings you, kick some grass over that shit and move on.
OH, another great stress reliever is adding decor to the environment you stay! Tranquility Rocks are the perfect way to give a room that relaxing earth tone feel. Our friend Julie Ann Stricklin a fellow dog enthusiasts as well created the awesome designs seen on these. A talented woman of many hats, Julie was the illustrator behind the awesome 2014 True Tails from the Dog park book, which I blogged about a week ago. Visit her website to see all her other amazing work Julie Ann Stricklin, thanks Julie!