We have often heard the term “it’s a dog’s life.” But what does that mean? You might limit your exploration of your dog’s life to a series of days, filled with seemingly mundane events. Your dog wakes up. Your dog goes outside to do their business. Hunger brings the dog to their bowl. When they are tired, your dog lays down and sleeps. They sleep a lot actually.
But what you are truly witnessing is an amazingly Zen example of living life in the moment. The word “Zen” is in fact the Japanese attempt to say the Chinese word “Chan.” The Chinese word “Chan” translates to “Dhyana,” which is a Sanskrit word for “meditation.” And before you ask – no, your dog is not meditating. But your dog is showing you how to live very much in the moment.
And have you noticed how happy your dog is? Perhaps there is something to following your dog’s example. Perhaps there is something to living your life, as the French might say, al la mode, in the moment. Okay, maybe the French don’t say that. But why can’t you?
Much of the emotional discomfort in our lives is born of overthinking every detail of our day, our week, our life. We are paralyzed in the analysis of how to move forward. Why? Because we won’t allow ourselves to let go of our attachment to the past. And our shaky remembrances of the past, falsely informs our present and therefore future behaviour. You see, we don’t actually remember events as they truly happened, but as a version of the events we create in our mind, based on our intellectual and emotional quotient supplies.
In other words, your memory of a past event is not so much a snapshot of what happened, as it is a painting of what happened. And as time passes, you add colour and texture to the painting. In the end, the painting often bears little or no resemblance at all to the past. It is an abstract representation of the past. But you hold onto that painting with a steadfast certainty that it is, in fact, the truest picture of your experience. And upon this wisdom, you build your life. But the wisdom is missing important details, and coloured with details that are false. It’s not your fault. So let go guilt right now.
And maybe you do think that you are smarter than your dog. But you must admit that your dog seems pretty happy. So, taking a page from your dog’s plan for a happy life, try to let the past remain in the past. When you want to dredge up all those old memories of the past that cause you so much doubt, remind yourself that memories were meant to fade. Absolutely, use sound wisdom that you and your dog have gained over the years. For example, never try to surprise a skunk in the woods and imagine it will end well for either of you. It doesn’t.
So for happiness, travel light with wisdom, carrying only what you need. And let the memories fade. And then maybe you will be as happy as your dog.