Ever thought about the life lessons our pets teach us on a daily basis?
Living with a four-legged friend can bring a lot of positive energy into a household and have a grounding and balancing effect. I have lived with a pet since the moment I started living on my own. My fluffy, chubby and clumsy Ragdoll – which is a U.S. breed – cat called Bella means the world to me and brings a lot of joy and pleasure into my life, but she also helps in calming my mind after a busy day.
Enjoying the companionship of a pet intensifies feelings of being connected and helps build compassion for ourselves and others. I’d never thought pets can really boost your (mental) health and teach you important and valuable life lessons.
Pets are really good at looking after themselves and doing whatever they need to feel good. This is something we can really learn from and need to implement in our own lives. So what exactly do pets teach us? Read on for 11 inspirational life lessons from your furry buddy.
1. Being present and living in the moment
One of the most important lessons you can learn from your pet is being present in the moment. They don’t overthink the past or worry about the future. When your cat is eating a bowl of kibble, he isn’t worrying about whether it makes him gain weight or he need to exercise more. He is just enjoying his plate and embracing the present moment. Do you feel stressed all the time and think you need to have figured everything out? Take a look at your pet and try to copy some of his behavior.
Pets are thankful for cuddling with their owner, for being fed everyday or for their daily playtime in the garden. They appreciate whatever they have and show that openly. Do you find yourself having a hard time being grateful for the current situation or thankful for people that care about you? Even when life presents great challenges or you’re going through a tough phase, you can learn to focus on your blessing, instead of focusing on the negativity in your life. Focus on the small pieces you’re grateful for, no matter what is going on in your life. It will make you more optimistic and hopeful for the future.
3. Make time to play
Most pets love to play. My cat can play with an old knitting needle for hours. When you have a dog you will see him acting silly when going out for a walk. Whether it’s chasing a bird, or running around making funny jumps, he will always find something he likes. Find something you love doing and start doing it! So what do pets teach us? That playing isn’t just for kids or pets. Playing on a regular basis enhances your creativity, opens up your mind and true spirit. Go outside, dance around in the house when you’re alone, be crazy and have fun!
4. Take walks
When you have a dog you have a good reason to go outside, but whether you need to go outside to walk your pet or not, taking a walk benefits your mind and body. Make sure you spend time outdoors every day, even if it’s just a short walk to get some fresh air. Balanced exercise is really good to boost your mental and physical health.
5. Enjoy the journey
We’ve all seen cars passing by with a dog sticking his head out the window and leaning into the wind to inhale fresh air and all the different smells. No matter where their journey is heading, they simply enjoy the ride. Now think about your own life, your goals and expectations. It’s tempting to solely focus on the outcome, but it will lead to frustration and stress when you don’t meet your expectations. For example, when I was recovering from my eating disorder I was putting all of my energy and focus on the destination: to be happy with myself. This led me to miss a huge part of the ride itself. Focus on the experiences and lessons you learn along the way and try to enjoy small victories.
6. Forgive and stop holding grudges
How long does your cat stay angry when you accidentally step on his tail? Does your dog become angry when you come home late from school or work? Probably no longer than a few seconds. Pets teach us to forgive very easily and you can incorporate that into your own life. Holding a grudge has a negative influence on your emotional well-being and it keeps you from moving forward. Take some advice from pets and learn to forgive yourself and others. It will give you a sense of freedom.
7. Overcome your fears
Animals can overcome their fear through love and kindness. The day I got my Ragdoll she was a 14-week-old kitten. After the breeder left her with me she stayed underneath my dining table for 2 hours, so I cuddled myself up on the couch and let her adapt to the new environment. Within a few hours, she carefully approached me and before I knew it, she made the jump, right onto my tummy. With enough attention, patience, and love people can overcome their fears as well. Love really conquers all and you should start with yourself! What are your fears? You’ll see that replacing that fear and self-criticism with self-love makes you strong and able to handle every situation in life. It will make your life easier!
8. Accept yourself
Pets don’t worry about their looks. They don’t compare themselves to other animals wishing they have longer legs or smaller hips. They don’t want to look like the cat ‘smiling’ at you on the bag of kibble or the perfectly pampered pets in commercials. People spend and waste a lot of precious time trying to change our looks or hating themselves for not fitting unrealistic beauty standards. Instead, you should look at yourself and value and love your uniqueness. Love it all, the positive and the negative!
9. Unwind and relax
Every pet owner knows how often their pet thinks it’s time for a nap. I work from home, so I have plenty of time to observe my cat while I’m busy working. The ragdoll cat breed habitually loves to lay on their backs with their back legs flattened out and their front ‘arms’ sticking straight up. That’s her favorite nap position. It always makes me laugh, but it does convey an important life lesson. We live in a fast-paced digital society that never unplugs. Do you ever shut off your phone? I don’t. Learn from your four-legged friend. Our pets teach us the importance of allowing ourselves to take a break to unwind and relax. Try it. It will calm your mind and restore your energy level.
10. Be loyal and trustworthy
Has someone ever lied to you or cheated on you? I’ve been cheated on and it made me feel worthless and useless. I always blamed myself. So what do pets teach us? They don’t lie. They don’t cheat on you, and they are always loyal to their owner. Be loyal to your family and friends and treat other people the same way you like to be treated.
11. Love unconditionally
Your pet will love you unconditionally. You don’t need to deserve their love. Whether you just yelled at them because they did something you don’t like, or you’re in a bad mood or having a bad hair day, your pet’s still happy to be around you! Loving someone unconditionally isn’t an easy task, but it can give you so much in return.
So we can learn a lot from our furry friends.
(Last Updated: September 9, 2022)