Humans and animals have co-existed for centuries, some domesticated, others wild, and some even revered. If we pay close attention, animals can teach us important life lessons that we may forget or avoid due to our hectic and demanding lives. So take a step back, and learn to appreciate how animals can sometimes be more human than us.
1. Live in the moment
Animals savor each moment, while we, despite having the advantage of metacognition, are mostly distracted by our own thoughts about the past and the future to our own pitfall. People waste precious time obsessing over “what will happen next”, thinking about work, home, to-do-lists, upcoming events, hence failing to enjoy each moment and fully appreciate what is going on in the present.
2. Love unconditionally
Even if you lock a dog in a room for days, when the door is opened, the dog will jump up and lick your face excitedly without any reservation. Dogs will never withhold their desire to offer support and understanding to you, even if they are mad at you. We are conditioned to like people or things that give us gains & advantages in some way. The relationship we foster with our furry friends also teaches us on how to be compassionate and love another being that is completely different from us. If we choose, we can love unconditionally as well, without any ulterior motives.
3. Listen to your heart
Sometimes we need to listen to our instincts (our heart) and not our rational thoughts (brain). Some people call it listening to your gut, others call it the voice in their head. All of us are trained to be practical and rational thinkers, but sometimes we need to heed our instincts, which may be telling us something crucial. Animals respond to cues around them by trusting their instincts and acting on them, based completely on their senses, and we can definitely take a cue from them.
4. Focus on your priority
Give a dog his favorite toy and try calling him from another room. He would jump with joy to be with you, play with you and love you like he hasn’t seen you in months, leaving the toy behind. There may be a hundred things lined up to-do, there may be materialistic gains we are looking for, but do remember to make your loved ones a priority and connect with them on a daily basis.
5. Take some time to relax
We all have mechanical lives- tasks to accomplish, places to be, people to meet, social obligations to fulfill, all of which make sure our day is full from morning to evening. As a result, we often forget to take time to relax and enjoy life. Animals don’t tend to overwork themselves and enjoy every moment which helps them be re-energized, and to relish the beauty of life. Take a cue from animals, and make sure you make time for yourself — relax, self-reflect, and enjoy some quiet moments away from the hustle of daily life.
6. Fool around, have fun
Be silly like a cat! Remember to play like dogs! Whenever you feel pressure from work or home, take a well-deserved break — even for just a few moments, to lighten your load and reduce stress. Apart from the joy physical activity brings, playing helps to discover yourself and releases happy hormones!
7. Don’t take anyone too seriously (Not even yourself)
Just like animals, who are fully absorbed when they are playing and don’t care about who might be watching, let go of your critics (even your inner critic), and the judgement of others. Learn to fully embrace yourself and experience joy. Dance like no one’s watching!
8. Forgive easily
Despite experiencing anger, misery, misfortune and even grief, animals move past them with poise and continue their lives without reliving the past. We tend to keep grudges, resentment and anger towards people, situations, and even our own life, all of which hamper us from enjoying the present, and investing in the future.
Even on days when we come back home from work exhausted and nothing has gone right, our furry friends devotedly greet us with unfailing offers of their love and affection. Even when we ignore them or speak harshly, they wait patiently for a moment when we turn our attention towards them. Patience is a virtue and it always pays off.
10. We all must stick together
Having each other’s back is the key to survival. A group of animals together is less likely to become victims of predators and there is an important lesson to be learnt here. Teamwork always pays off! Ants carry tiny specks of food together and save for winters, tackle predators which are many times their size, carry each other on their backs, all together as a team. Being able to set aside differences and work together for mutual benefit is an incredible skill to be learnt.
11. Follow your heart & create your own path
Horses tend to be pretty independent and are known to charter into unknown territory to create their own path. Sometimes, without thinking of consequences, run free and let your heart take the decision about what you want to do. You never know when it might pay off!
12. Be brave
Lions are an excellent example for bravery- they represent courage, strength and resilience. They don’t back down from a challenge or lurk in the shadows and pick themselves up every time they fall. We tend to let our fears get in the way of life — channel your inner lion next time you have to face your fears, and see yourself blasting your way past them.
13. Be loyal
Dogs are called a man’s best friend for good reason, their undying loyalty, love and respect are hard to match. Learning from them, we can imbibe traits of faithfulness, and unconditional positive regard for fellow humans, living together and always being there for each other.