Dogs are good for our mental and physical health, but they can also teach us a lot about life. Here are five important life lessons we can learn from dogs, courtesy of the man who knows them best, TV’s Dog Whisperer, Cesar Millan:
First life lesson: Live in the moment. Cesar says dogs don’t stress out about their past, or hold on to hurt feelings, they appreciate what’s happening right now. But humans tend to dwell on bad experiences which can lead to depression and anxiety. Cesar says focusing on the present will allow you to have a much richer and more satisfying life, right now.
Next: people, just like dogs, need three things in their lives: Exercise, affection and discipline. We all know the benefits of exercise and love. But a study from Stanford University found the people who are disciplined and delay gratification tend to have higher test scores, go to better colleges and have healthier relationships overall. Discipline isn’t about punishment, it’s about living by rules and structure.
Third life lesson dogs can teach us: go with your gut. Dogs are instinctive and can sense what’s happening beneath the surface. Cesar says, we humans have lost this ability and depend too much on words. So start paying attention to non-verbal cues like body language and energy and you’ll get a lot more out of every conversation.
Don’t hold grudges. According to Cesar there aren’t that many conflicts in a dog pack. Why? Because if there’s a disagreement, they deal with and move on. He says we humans hold on to negative feelings, and stuff them down until we explode. Instead, confront any issues before they blow up, then get over it and move on.
And the final life lesson we can learn from dogs: Live with a purpose. Cesar says when dogs have nothing to do they develop behavioral issues and anxiety. But when you give a dog a way to contribute to the pack’s wellbeing, their issues clear up almost instantly. It’s no different with people.
We’re all born with a need to stay occupied and contribute, SO if you’re feeling down ask yourself how you can do more for the people around you.