Of the many dogs I have met in my young life, and the 5 that I have owned, one truly stands out from the rest; my 6 year old chocolate labrador retriever, Toby. Toby has a certain spirit about him, one that is very rare and kind. Anyone who meets him seems to by truly uplifted by his presence, and I think would agree that there are a few things we can all learn from him.
- Never take anything too seriously, including yourself.
As we learn and grow, we are bound to make mistakes. This is something to keep in mind as you judge both yourself and others. Sometimes we forget to think before we speak, forget to stop before we act, and forget to check ourselves. Especially as young adults, this is a time of learning from our mistakes. Don’t get too caught up on something you did or said wrong, but take it with you for the future; because I guarantee you will have a chance down the road to fix your mistake.
2. Be kind, always.
To Toby, everyone is a friend. It doesn’t matter if you are human, dog, cat; any other animal that he encounters, he approaches with the most benign attitude. To him, hostility just isn’t on the radar. All this guy really wants is to be your friend. Even more, when another dog shows negativity, he does something that many people in this day and age can’t even buck up enough to do: he walks away.
- 3. Love unconditionally and know how to forgive.
Toby’s mind works pretty simply: he loves those who are good to him. He knows who loves and cares for him, and for that, he loves them back. Sometimes I am having a bad day or in a rush, and just can’t take 5 minutes to play with him when I get home. Like the good spirit he is, he doesn’t hold this against me, and approaches me with the same excitement the next day. As people, we tend to hold grudges over the little things. Maybe your boyfriend didn’t text you back, your sister ignored your call, or your friend forgot about the plans you made, but many people have a tendency to take these hiccups personally. While a red flag should go off if these habits become regular, a bump in the road every now and then shouldn’t be something to fret over. Like my mom always taught me, don’t cry over spilt milk: the milk is gone, clean it up and move on with your life.
- 4. Enjoy the little things
If only we could all get as much joy from something so simple as playing catch with a tennis ball. Especially in this day and age or technology, it’s easy to miss out on the little joys of life. Sunny afternoons, mimosas, the ocean breeze, the smell of fresh cut grass; these are only some of the little treasures that we often pass by. We are so focused on getting from point ‘A’ to point ‘B’ that we forget to stop and smell the roses. Take 5 minutes from your evening commute to watch the street performer on the corner. Wake up at 5am to watch the sunrise. Listen to your favorite song on full volume while speeding down the highway. Sing at the top of your lungs. Laugh until your stomach hurts. Stay our late with your friends when you have to be up for class at 8am. Life doesn't always have to be about “the grind”, and sometimes its the little things that get us through, and make it all worth it.
We all have a lot to learn in this life. We may not always know where we’re going, or what comes next. We cannot always predict what will happen tomorrow, let alone a year from now. All we really can do is take each day as it comes, follow our hearts, and live each day to its fullest. Because if we aren't following our heart, and we aren't happy, then what are we really doing? Take a lesson from Toby and enjoy the little pleasures, love, play, and never look back.