Whether you’ve been lucky enough to hold a connection with an animal, or you know someone who has truly found comfort in their pet, you know that animals occupy a special place in our homes and hearts. What’s even more astonishing is that these very animals can help us to improve our relationships with one another as people, as well as our relationships with ourselves. What are we talking about? Mindfulness. That's right. Our pets almost exclusively live in the present moment, and there’s a lot we can gain from studying how they affect us and how we affect each other.
They Don’t Hold Grudges
It happens. Tails get stepped on and paws get squished, but animals don’t carry that pain around with them. They almost immediately move past the cause of the pain and concern themselves with healing. Think about the power in that! Looking toward a better future instead of the painful past.
Hand-in-hand (or paw-in-hand) with not holding grudges, animals are amazingly accepting creatures. They don’t judge themselves for their moods and they don’t judge us for our feelings. Animals don’t suffer guilt for doing what they do and being who they are. An awesome lesson for all of us.
They Offer Their Full Attention
When a dog is playing fetch, he isn’t also wondering about what other dogs think of him or what he has to do the next day. The dog is enjoying the moment and giving his all. By focusing on what we’re doing in the present we can fully experience what we’re doing and get the most out of it.
They Are Curious
Next time you get a chance, watch a cat discover a new trinket on a table. He’ll sniff it and tap it, maybe knock it over or play with it—and be engrossed by it the whole time. This curiosity can be applied to our own lives. Try taking the time to explore and experience your feelings and emotions, instead of making rash decisions with little or no consideration.
There are a lot of theories about a cat’s purr, but we do know that the frequency of their purr has an amazing healing quality. Cats can purr when stressed or relaxed, and they reap the benefits of purring either way. Try approaching mediation with the same healing power. You may not be able to purr, but you can quiet and clear your mind.
Animals encourage us to focus. Next time you take your pet for a walk, watch her take in the world around her. She’s looking at everything, even things she’s seen a million times before. Don’t bury your head in your phone as you walk with her, instead look up, look around and experience the world you live in—even if you think you’ve seen it before.