Be more dog

We can learn so much from dogs, I can’t think of one thing a dog does that isn’t filled with love or care towards anyone it meets. What about aggressive dogs I hear you cry, or those who don’t listen and do what they want? But think about it; were they like this when they were born? No, any behaviour you see, good or bad, is directly influenced by their owner and some breeds have an unfair reputation because of this.

I have a Rottweiler cross Staffordshire bull terrier, which if you believed what you read in the papers, would make him sound like one of the most aggressive dog combinations in the world. However, this couldn’t be further from the truth, he’s the biggest wimp and doesn’t even hurt flies – he likes following them round the room but doesn’t know what to do when one lands in front of him on the floor. Staffies were originally bred as nanny dogs to look after children, which explains why my one is so good around children and adapts his behaviour so well. Nothing like the image that’s portrayed online or in the news – brought about from a particular type of person who has previously acquired and adorned them with spiked collars to make them look menacing.

Why do we judge anything based on what we read in an article? Dogs don’t read so why do we base so much of our lives on what other people are doing? Be more dog – live your own life!

Dogs are awesome

Altruism is a word I would never put in the same sentence with the word human – I just don’t think it’s possible for a person to be truly altruistic. There will always be a reason why they are helping someone else, whether it’s to make the local paper for a bit of fame, or to make themselves feel good. However, dogs are the definition of altruism. They would do anything for anyone and can sense so much that us mere humans can’t, from fear to cancer – they are amazing. Be more dog, think of others!

When anyone arrives at the house my dog greets them with open arms, regardless of their age, looks, nationality, previous history – he doesn’t judge and accepts anyone. There’s just one simple rule to this statement and that is the person has to show just a bit of kindness to him. Something that us humans so easily forget about, but is one of the best things in the world to do. Be more dog – be kind.

Let it go

People are very good at holding on to grudges and resenting those around them who have caused them to make them feel like that. Think about what a dog does if someone shouts at them or pushes them to the side. They go straight back to how they were and don’t take offence in any way. They let it swoop over their heads as they don’t understand how to hold a grudge. My dog had a bad start to life, but we were lucky enough to rehome home him after he was rescued by a local charity. He should mistrust and hate humans but he doesn’t. Plus life’s way too short! Be more dog – forgive often.

Appreciating the small things in life

Right now the world seems to be more frantic than ever, and life can pass you by so quickly you’ll wonder what happened. Reading online stories and watching the headlines every morning is something of a ritual for many people, however what would happen if you didn’t do this every day and instead concentrated on your own life and surroundings?

I was getting wrapped up in all the political negativity and uncertainty surrounding Britain and failed to notice what was directly in front of me. The other day I was paying for a parking ticket but was getting annoyed when I realised I didn’t have enough change. A woman was stood waiting behind me and not only offered me what I said I was short by, but checked to make sure I didn’t need anything else. That simple act of kindness started the ball rolling on expanding my faith in humanity.

The next day someone commented on how well I’d trained my dog and said that if I ever needed a new home for him she would take him in a heartbeat. She didn’t need to say anything nice to me or even talk to me in the first place, but she took the time out of her day to interact and again my spirits were lifted.

Faith in humanity

Next time you see an ambulance, police car or fire engine drive down the road with its sirens blaring, watch how many drivers automatically make room for it to pass and continue on its way to saving someone’s life. Yes, you could argue that it’s the law to move and we’re all taught that in our driving lessons, but still not everyone abides by the law and yet I have never seen anyone intentionally hold up an emergency services vehicle. How great is that? In comparison, I recently travelled to India and the police had to wait in line until others had driven down the road, there was no making way for them, so it really made me appreciate how we are in this country.

One reason why I think we forget to appreciate the little things is because of our ever increasing standards. We expect more and more and forget no one really has to do anything for us. When you walk in to a shop the staff don’t have to greet you, but many do, so we expect that everywhere. When you’re carrying heavy bags and someone helps you, remember they don’t have to do that. Those bags are your responsibility not theirs so be grateful someone has given you some of their own time.

Give someone your own time

Ask yourself, when was the last time you offered to help, or just started talking to someone because you’re genuinely interested in how they are? During the 40 days of lent why not set yourself a challenge – try and do one nice thing a day that you wouldn’t normally do. Ask someone how they are, buy someone a coffee just because you thought of them or send someone a hand written letter. Lent isn’t just about giving something up, it’s also about thinking of others, and right now our society needs that more than ever.

Nobody’s perfect

People pleasing is in my nature and however good it makes me feel when I can meet someone’s demands, it’s also extremely draining on my emotions. I’ve noticed this more recently and having to say no to someone is something I dread. However is it really that bad to think of yourself?

I put so much pressure on myself to be the best I can be and portray a squeaky clean image, that it’s now starting to make me anxious and worry about running out of time to do what I want to do.

The other day I saw a great reminder of how to protect your own energy. It said:

It’s okay to cancel a commitment.
It’s ok to not answer a call.
It’s okay to change your mind.
It’s okay to want to be alone.
It’s okay to take a day off.
It’s okay to do nothing.
It’s okay to speak up.
It’s okay to let go.

This was a real wake-up call for me and made me realise I’m not the only one thinking guilty about letting others down. Take for example this blog. I’ve been posting twice a week since I started, once on a Wednesday and once on a Sunday, however yesterday I didn’t have time (due to commitments to others). I woke up this morning kicking myself wondering why I didn’t spend just half an hour writing a blog and posting it.

This was swiftly rationalised by remembering I simply didn’t have the chance to do it. Plus forcing myself to write something isn’t why I started doing this. I wanted to portray my own thoughts and feelings to highlight what I was actually going through.

That’s why reminding yourself of the above phrases helps to promote a healthier mind set and takes the pressure off. Don’t feel guilty for thinking of your own needs and understand that you have to take care of your mental state before others.

I can’t wait to pencil a day in my diary to do absolutely nothing and concentrate on exactly what I want to do.

Changing Times

Happy New Year and welcome to my blog – Life As I Know It (LAIKI)!

Heading into a New Year normally starts with the motivation to make a substantial change to your life, hence the need for a New Year Resolution. Usually this desire to change fades and you go back to your normal life with the cycle of thought repeating itself the year after, and the one after that etc. However this year I have had change forced upon me due to a job move my other half is making to the opposite end of the country.

Gaining my perspective

This means I’ve had to hand my notice in without another job to go to. Scary, but also thrilling as the world is now my oyster. What should I do next, where shall I go, should I make a big career change even though I’m almost mid-thirty? When I start to panic about which direction to go in I try and ground myself by repeating the phrase ‘you only live once’. YOLO is such an overused term these days that you can forget to actually listen and understand the truth of it. You really only get one chance on this planet, it isn’t a rehearsal so what’s stopping you?

horse industry
It’s good to volunteer in an industry before committing to it full-time

Pressure from the media and friends and family means many people stay in jobs they don’t like and never truly explore what they feel like doing. Yes we have bills to pay and food to buy in order to live but there are steps you can take to make yourself feel happier in what you do. While I’m out of work I’m planning on doing some volunteer work in an industry I want to explore further. As I won’t be earning anyway, it’s a great time for me to test the boundaries of whether it could become a sustainable way of life for me. I’m also looking at courses to enroll on, both distance learning and part time so I can fit it around my full time job. I’m not 100% sure of what direction I want to go in but these little advancements make my decision easier.

Vision and goal setting

There are many exercises to help you understand what values are important in your life and how you can improve your happiness. One of these is outlined below:

Start with three circles and label one of them personal, the other career and the third health. Write down what is important to you inside each circle and on the outside of each put down what you’re not happy with. My health example is:

Inner circle:
Horse riding, yoga, pilates, drinking water, running

Outside circle:
Hip injury, neck pain, back pain

This gives me an idea of the things I need to concentrate more time on, so the things that make me happy are keeping fit by taking part in my favourite hobbies. The bad stuff is the pain associated with this so my priority is to book an appointment with a physiotherapist to start the process of reducing the pain. By doing this I’ll give myself more time to concentrate on the positives in this area of my life.

I enjoy a healthy and active lifestyle but I need to resolve the hip pain that is holding me back

Ten-year plan

If you’re feeling really motivated to set out a longer term plan write out where you see yourself in 10 years’ time. Some of the questions to ask yourself include:

Where do you see yourself living?
With who?
What type of work do you do?
Who does your family unit consist of?
Which hobbies and sports are you enjoying?
Have you purpose?
How do you feel?

It may be hard to start with but try to think without giving yourself any boundaries. Right now 10 years feels like a lifetime away but if you set the goals out now you have something to aim for and keep track of where you are on your path to greatness. Check in with what you’ve written each year, you’ll be surprised how much progress you make in a year. Give yourself praise for this and remember how far you’ve come.