Although animals can’t walk, talk, or think quite like us, that doesn’t mean they can’t teach us a thing or two! Here are some life lessons that we can learn from animals:
Listen to your inner wisdom. No matter how trained a pet is, all rules and focus on treats go out the window when instincts kick in. If there is a threat of danger, they do everything in their power to protect themselves. They don’t care how they look or what others may think of them. So if your instincts tell you that doing something isn’t safe to your physical, mental, or emotional well-being…don’t do it. That could be anything from not taking on more responsibilities to declining an invitation to a party. In the same way, if there is something your inner guide is telling you to do to promote your well-being—taking some time out to recharge, calling up a good friend, getting outside for a long walk—listen to that voice too.
Let those you love and care about know how you feel. If you’ve ever witnessed a dog’s happy reaction to seeing his or her owner after time away, you know what unrestrained joy looks like. No amount of training can stop that dog from expressing gratitude, love, and excitement. Sometimes we humans restrain ourselves from expressing warm, fuzzy thoughts to others. Let the joy out! Think of how good you feel when someone shows they care about you. So if you experience feelings of love, affection, or any happy feelings for people in your life…don’t keep them to yourself!
Be present. Animals live in the moment. They don’t hang onto stories or emotions such as anger, guilt, hurt, despair, and fear that we humans can replay for a lifetime. They also don’t give themselves ulcers worrying about the future. Most of the painful thoughts we have don’t have anything to do with the present moment. Let go of the stories, limiting thoughts, and unsupportive beliefs that cause you upset, and strive to live in the only moment we really have…the now.
Figure out what you want and then take action. Often, when we humans decide we want some wonderful dream or goal for ourselves, we get stopped before we even start by unsupportive self-talk. When a squirrel decides to collect food for the winter, he doesn’t let worry, doubt, or fear stymie him. He doesn’t think: I’m not prepared for this. What if I fail? What if people think my goal is ridiculous? The squirrel just goes out and gets the job done. He knows what he wants and takes all the action he can in that moment. If an obstacle gets in the way, he doesn’t give up…he changes tactics, and then continues to focus on the goal. Focus on your desired outcomes, not the “what ifs” that may never even happen.
Be YOU and only YOU. Animals don’t try to be someone they aren’t. They are unabashedly and unapologetically authentic. Isn’t that one of the reasons we love them? There’s only one you. Be proud of your uniqueness!