What if the measure of a quality human life was the same criteria used to determine the quality of life for a dog? When you are in doubt during life’s trials and tribulations, you could just ask yourself “if I was a dog, what would I do right now to make myself feel better?”
I hear all the time people say things like “Oh that poor dog, it stays inside all day” or, “it’s sad that the dog is chained up all day.” I find myself thinking, “well despite your human liberty and free will, you seem to spend most of your time inside all day too...” or “one could argue that there are many things that you are chained to, which hold you back”. As people, I think we could to do a better job taking care of ourselves. Self-love and self-care are important contributors to perceived quality of life. As described by Kamal Ravikant, “we must love ourselves like our life depends on it, because it does”.
I don’t mean to say that there is a causal relationship between a happy dog and a happy human because there are times when a dog does something that makes the human unhappy. I do think there could be a correlation between the types of things that contribute to a happy dog, and the types of things that contribute to a happy human. This thought exercise may provide guidance to said correlations.
Humans like to make things complicated. What if we just lived in accordance with the principles below? Seven basic characteristics of a dog include;
1) Dogs seem to enjoy being around humans they love. In order to make a meaningful contribution to your quality of life, spend time with people you love. Enjoy it, and show affection.
2) Dogs love to be outdoors. In order to make a meaningful contribution to your quality of life, spend more time outdoors. Don’t overthink it just get outdoors. Breathe deeply, and never lose the curiosity of exploring your ever-changing environment.
3) Dogs respond well to strong leadership. In order to make a meaningful contribution to your quality of life, seek mentorship. We are all byproducts, in some capacity, to mentorship. If you cannot find a quality mentor, read more books. “The reading of all good books is like a conversation with the finest minds of past centuries." - Rene Descartes.
4) Dogs love to play. Dogs play every day. In order to make a meaningful contribution to your quality of life, play each day. To play is defined as “engaging in an activity for enjoyment and recreation rather than a serious or practical purpose”. As children, playing is a fundamental component to how we learn, and to how we make sense of the world around us. Sometime between childhood and adulthood, we forget how to play.
5) Dogs live in the present moment. In order to make a meaningful contribution to your quality of life, be here now. Mark Twain once said, “I have known a great many troubles, but most of them never happened.” This speaks to the issues associated with concerning yourself with decisions passed, and stressing over future outcomes.
6) Dogs love food. In order to make a meaningful contribution to your quality of life, eat and share good food. There is something innately human about this practice. You get the sense that humans have made a habit of this practice for thousands of years when you prepare, consume, and share good food.
7) A tired dog is a good dog. In order to make a meaningful contribution to your quality of life, find activities that you love and do them. I have found little to be more satisfying than spending an entire day exerting energy doing something I love, with people I love. There is something fulfilling about running full speed throughout the day. It ensures that you will be ‘out like a light’ when your head hits the pillow.
I think it is best to keep dogs around you, in some capacity. In a way, they act as a dashboard indicator of your life. They help you understand if your checks and balances are aligned. I sometimes imagine that they function like a 'check engine light' in a vehicle. Seeing a happy dog running around, in your peripherals, is a reminder that you are doing things right. In this manner, the dog takes care of the human, and not the other way around.