4 Things Our Pets Are Trying to Teach Us About Life
Our pets lead simple lives. While we worry about bills, an empty gas tank, what our friends think of us, and whether we’ll get that promotion, our pets are content with a full food dish, a bed, and an owner to love. That simplicity of existence has a lot to teach us about how to be happy, how to interact with others, and how to care for ourselves.
If we’re paying attention, there’s a lot to learn from our pets, almost as if they’re trying to show us how to live happier lives. Below are just a few of the lessons they offer us.
Forgive Quickly (Especially When It’s a Loved One)
Think of the last time you accidentally stepped on your cat’s tail. Or the time you came home late, and your dog really needed to use the fire hydrant. We’re all human, and that means we’re prone to mistakes, accidents, and errors. Do our pets hold it against us? Not a chance. As soon as they hear our remorseful “I’m sorry”s and our pitiful pleas for forgiveness, they hop back into our laps and beg to be petted. They accept us for who we are, flaws and all.
How often are we that forgiving as humans? We’re much more likely to take offense at minor slights, to hold on to grudges, and to resist the attempts of others to make amends. If we want to be happy, we need to be more prepared to forgive and move on with our lives, like our pets do.
This is all the more important when the offense is coming from someone we love, and who loves us. When there’s an honest mistake or misunderstanding, and when the offender tries to make amends, we need to be more prepared to forgive them and give them a second chance.
Even when we can’t immediately return trust to the individual, or when they aren’t seeking forgiveness, we need to let go of the pent-up negative emotions, and give ourselves a measure of peace.
Don’t Take Aggression and Mistreatment Lying Down
That’s not to say we should roll over and play dead when we’re being mistreated, and again, our pets are perfect examples of this.
Animals don’t take too kindly to abuse or consistent mistreatment. Over time, they either develop a healthy fear of the abuser, or they learn to defend themselves. They don’t appreciate shows of force or aggression either, whether at them or their owners. Pets, especially dogs, tend to respond by raising their hackles and baring their own teeth when someone threatens them or their family, and will often fight to defend those they love.
We can learn a lot from that behavior. We should all have the confidence to stand up for ourselves, and those we care about. And while we might not necessarily need to resort to biting our foes, giving our words a little bite is well within reason, depending on the circumstance.
Be Upfront About Your Needs
Toddlers and pets have this in common: they’re clear about what they want, and what they need. They don’t beat around the bush, use passive-aggressive tactics, or mislead you about their goals. When your dog wants to play fetch, he brings you a ball. When your cat doesn’t want to be pet, she swipes at you. When a snake wants some sunlight, well, it does whatever snakes do.
The point is, if we want people to understand us, especially about things we need, we should learn to be more direct with our language and our interactions. When we use clear communication, we get better results.
Don’t Take No For an Answer
Anyone who’s owned a dog—or visited a friend who does—knows that when that dog wants to be pet, he doesn’t take “no” for an answer. He sticks his nose in your hand, and rubs his head against your palm, over and over again, until he gets the response he wants. While we can’t recommend this kind of dogged determination (pun intended) in every situation, there are plenty of circumstances when it really counts.
One area that benefits from tenacity like this is your professional success. If you’re stuck in a less than satisfactory job, take a lesson from the family pet, and don’t accept “no” as an answer when you say you want to be more successful. Go back to school, earn a degree that really matters to you, and pursue the job you really want.