Here are Five Simple Lessons to Learn from Your Animal to Increase Happiness in
1. Practice happiness for other people’s happiness – Your animal is always happy for
your success and cheering you on. When you see someone doing good things for
themselves like exercising, laughing with a group of friends, or celebrating an
accomplishment, practice being supportive to them in your mind. Say things like “good
for you for taking care of yourself” or “glad you’re having a moment of joy,” or smile in
your mind at them or just say “Yes!”
2. Practice non-violent communication toward yourself – We’ve known for a long
time we’re our own worst critics and the way we talk to ourselves has a major impact on
how we feel. Do you think your dog is self-critical? No, but most of us experience it too
regularly. See if you can label any of that self-judgment and in that moment flip it to
actively thinking about things you like about yourself.
3. Practice non-violent communication toward others – Your dog would never think
negatively about you if you made a mistake. When feeling frustrated with others, it’s
natural for humans to employ sarcasm, contempt, or to manipulate to get what we want.
However, this type of communication toward others is like poison for our well-being.
Whenever you notice any of this poison arising in you, take a few deep breaths and
exercise restraint, you’ll thank yourself later.
4. Relax your nervous system – We happen to live in a world that is very fast paced, it’s
no wonder that stress and anxiety are on the rise. It’s important to consciously relax our
bodies a few times a day. Take a deep breath, scan your body to find where you can
soften or stretch the muscles that are tense. Make this a practice; you’ll be surprised how
much this can help.
5. Be aware of the good – There’s a lot of “Bad” news out there that dials up our
nervous systems and makes us want to keep coming back to hear more, which only feeds
a “nervous” system. Instead, create some balance; your brain is less likely to see all the
good, so you have to intentionally pay attention to it. When you notice a good moment,
notice it, “this is a good moment, can I allow myself to linger in this for a few seconds?”
Let the neurons fire together and wire together.
Here’s the simple instructions:
Practice this for one week. Perhaps you’d like to go down the list and just focus on one
per day, then see what you notice at the end of the week. As a bonus, emotional
contagion is a real science and so as you practice this, imagine the ripple effects your
happiness has on those around you.