I’ve seen many posts this week about setting goals for 2015, living the life you want to lead in 2015, fulfilling your dreams in 2015. Some of these posts have encouraged readers to stop waiting – to live now, as if there is no tomorrow. I often hear the phrase “live like you’re dying.” It’s meant to inspire – to make us realize we might change our behavior if we knew our lives would end sooner than we planned. I know my priorities would change if I knew for certain I only had limited moments left in which to accomplish everything.
Rather than living with the fear of time running out, I would like to propose an alternative. I’ve spent a week living with my sister’s eight week old puppy, Samantha. We could all learn a few things from the bundle of energy who has been my playmate since Saturday.
What if, for 2015, you tried the following five steps?
1. Be amazed by the wonder around you.
Have you ever watched a puppy engage with the world? Everything is new! Everything is exciting! Samantha is genuinely amazed by her surroundings. The wood next to the fireplace is just waiting to be gnawed. The empty box might contain something unique so she has to check it out. And how about slippers!
What if we approached the world with the same awe? Instead of being annoyed by something out of our control, we could find something to appreciate. Shifting our mindset can help us realize how much we miss when we fail to really look at what is around us. Rather than complain about the snow falling, as I tend to do, I will try to remind myself no two flakes are identical. Really, that thought does boggle my mind a bit.
2. Remember play is serious business.
Puppies learn through play. Samantha has the benefit of having two older dogs to play with. She treats play time as work, because it is. When Samantha plays, she gives it her all and is not distracted by anything else.
What if we allowed ourselves to disengage from work and devote ourselves to play from time to time? There is no cell service at my sister’s house, so I have not had the distraction of text messages or phone calls this week. I have been more present with those around me, not having my phone vibrate or make noise. Yes, I am still connected through wi-fi, but I have not been reaching for my phone every few minutes. Instead I have been reading, crocheting, writing, playing board games and working on puzzles. Concentrating on play and relaxing has made me realize how beneficial it is for me to make this a regular part of my daily routine.
3. Don’t forget rest is just as important as play.
When she is not eating or playing, Samantha is usually napping. My first night here, I learned she is a cuddler. Within two minutes of snuggling on my lap, she was curled up and snoring. I guess when you spend so much energy wrestling with an old sock and two full grown German Shepherds, you wear yourself out. Samantha knows when it is time to rest and she will go off to her crate, situate herself on my brother-in-law’s old sweatshirt and disengage from the rest of us. It’s as if she is saying, “I’ve had enough and now I need to rest so I have energy for more play later on.”
This is a behavior I need to master. I am eager to engage with the world around me, and want to accomplish so much! I forget the importance of regular rest. I wrote earlier this week about my need for vacation and my body’s need for a break. Seven days of leisure have been divine. I have no excuse for denying myself the occasional respite without feeling guilty for taking time off. You are welcome to remind me of this during the exciting year to come.
4. Explore fearlessly.
Samantha loves to play with Molly, who kindly lets Samantha crawl all over her. Two days ago, Samantha learned how to climb stairs. Within hours she was bounding up the stairs without fear, and without knowing how to get back down. She wasn’t worried about what she would find upstairs, and she wasn’t thinking about the future. Samantha understood this was new territory and now she was going to go find out for herself what was at the top of the stairs.
Imagine what we could accomplish or discover if we let ourselves explore fearlessly without worrying about what might happen? I’m not suggesting we throw all caution to the wind and disregard clear signs of danger. But what if we stopped worrying about potential bad outcomes and just climbed a staircase of our own once in a while? We might uncover some wonder previously unseen. Samantha found a new place to piddle. I hope you find something just as gratifying when you go exploring.
5. Don’t be afraid to ask for help from those around you.
Samantha got to the top of the stairs only to realize she couldn’t get back down. She did what any good puppy would do. She began to whine and cry out for help. She didn’t think about whether she would be an imposition on others, or if the adults or other dogs would think less of her because she needed help. Samantha took inventory of the situation, realized she was in over her head, and reached out for help confident we would hear her cries.
As someone who has difficulty asking for assistance, I would do well to model her example. I need to have faith my requests will be heard and answered. I must remember we all need to rely on others for help. Asking for the help I need does not make me weak. In fact, others who come to my assistance may feel blessed by the chance to help me.
I can’t guarantee these five steps will help you fulfill your goals or accomplish your resolutions. But maybe if we all took some time to live like puppies in 2015, we might discover more happiness and laughter in our lives.