Sorry dog owners, this one isn't for you.
If you are reading this, you have likely been bestowed upon with a living, breathing ball of fluffy wisdom; A cat, as some may call it. These creatures never fail to amaze me with their effortless elegance, endless curiosity, and at times, indifferent temperament towards our abrasive human affection.
After observing my own cats, I found that they require little maintenance to feel content. And I know what you may be thinking . . . cats live mundane and simplistic lives: They eat, hunt, sleep, and sleep some more on a productive day. However, these are mere habits that cats practice daily, not their life prophecies that fuel these intrinsic motivations. While cats are simple creatures of habit, they undoubtedly hold the secrets to an uncomplicated, happy life that humans have only ever dreamed of.
Now, you may be questioning my judgment as I take life lessons from a laser-chasing, catnip-obsessed, four-legged feline. However, with the proper perspective, you too will see how cats are often better at living life than we are.
1. Engage and interact naturally.
Cats have no problem letting us humans know when their social battery has run out for the day. I will be happily snuggling with my own cat when all of a sudden, he will abruptly leave my side as if he hadn't willingly laid beside me for hours. Nevertheless, this is just the way cats interact, and as their ever-so-patient owners, we learn to accept that. We never expect our cats to take on our burdens and insecurities. And we especially don't expect them to crack under a guilty conscience, causing them to stroll right back into our empty laps reluctantly. Cat owners accept this and allow our pets to make space for themselves.
We humans must make space for ourselves too.
Now, I'm not saying to regularly ghost your best friend on their birthday or call out of work because your social battery has evidently run out. In a perfect world, this would be ideal. However, through the lens of core-shattering societal expectations, this would sadly be considered selfish and irresponsible.
I am saying not to force yourself to show up when you genuinely have no desire to. For example, to not go out to that sketchy frat party because your friends guilt-tripped you about how college is the "best years of your life." Stop always putting everyone else first, all of the time. You deserve to engage and interact the way you want to. Like a cat, it is not up to you to carry anyone's burdens or feel internally responsible for their mental state. You may leave their lap whenever you feel like it, literally or figuratively. This is a judgment-free space.
2. Enjoy the little things.
Cats are simple creatures of habit and for a good reason. To an outsider, this simplicity may be viewed as an uninteresting way to go about life. Cats are perfectly content with their same routine. They wake up grumpily, play in an empty paper bag for hours on end, eat dinner, and do it all over again. The ultimate essentials are all that cats genuinely need to feel satisfied.
Now I know what you may be thinking. "Of course, I enjoy the little things in life; I admire the occasional rainbow and walk barefoot in nature." However, these are mere moments of pausing, not a way of living more mindfully. This mindset entails appreciating the little moments in everyday life without constantly wishing for something more.
And as humans, we always want more.
Society has invoked this idea that to be happy or equate to anything worthy of recognition, we must have everything and more; the most expensive, flashy, and impressive items on the market, wrapped up in a neat little bow. So I suppose if grasping at straws to gain superficial satisfaction sounds like your cup of tea, then it's likely in your best interest to take the human route. You should keep doing that if you must; however if nothing else, know that there is the mindful route that is best practiced by our beloved feline companions.
3. Let go and move on.
It is no secret that cats are mellow in nature. Most of the time, they show minimal emotion in all that they do. While this is the case 99% of the time, that other 1% keeps us owners on our toes. This 1% exists of all the pent-up emotions that cats withhold in keeping their calm demeanor intact. We owners are sometimes caught off-guard from this abrupt expression of emotion, yet, we don't worry for long. Because we know that once they express these feelings, our cats quickly fall back into their previous state of being mundane as ever.
Humans fail to let go as seamlessly as their feline counterparts do. We'll hold grudges like our life depends on it. You probably still feel a rush of embarrassment from remembering that time you waved back at that person, only to realize they were waving at the person behind you. And yes, we are living beings, it is entirely healthy to cope and feel naturally.
What is not healthy is to let those past emotions consume the present moment.
Life is many things; what it is not, however, is stagnant. Life does not stop to make sure you're doing okay before continuing on with an unexpected catastrophe. Life does not stop throwing toxic relationships your way because you wished it would at exactly 11:11 pm. And life especially does not pause a pandemic because you miss the way things use to be.
Life simply does not stop, so you must move on.
Yes, I learned all of these profound life lessons from my cat; it's safe to say that I tend to look into things. But to be fair, he does have a lot more experience at living than the rest of us. 9 lives to be exact.