Lessons from the Dog - Be Present
When I was in high school, I played tennis. I took lessons for years and became a pretty good technical player. But tennis, like all sports, has a psychological aspect as well. While it’s an important part of any athlete’s game, I think it’s especially so for individual sports like tennis. My psychological game was what kept me from being a star player.
During a game, if I was up 40-love, I’d tell myself whatever you do, don’t double fault. If you do, then your opponent will be one point closer to winning the game. And what did I do? Double faulted. Next point I might tell myself, ok, just get the serve in the court, but then don’t hit the ball into the net. Can you guess what happened? Yep. I hit the return straight into the net. And before I knew it, I lost the game, set and match. Happened to me all the time.
Why? Because I couldn’t stay in the moment. In my head, I created scenario after scenario that I didn’t want to happen. If you believe the universe responds to what you put out there, I got exactly what I wanted. Just by my thoughts.
I’ve done this in other scenarios as well. I read a book about being present and I never forgot this passage. Say you are driving to the school to pick up your kids. In the moment, you are asked what you are doing. Most of us would answer, “Going to pick up my kids.” But if you were living in the moment, your answer would be “I’m driving my car.” Think about that answer. Not quite the same, is it? One addresses specifically the moment, the other addresses what you hope the future will be. But what if you get in a car accident? Or your kids call and say they will get a ride from a friend? Then your future doesn’t involve picking up your kids. So now, you aren't going to pick up your kids. The only thing we ever know for sure is what is happening in this very moment.
Isn’t this how our dogs live? Now, they could get a pass because they don’t have to plan ahead and make sure they have enough food to eat dinner tonight. All they know is that it’s dinnertime and food will appear in their bowl around the same time every single day.
Ever hear of a dog complain he was up half the night worrying about tomorrow’s storms? Or walk faster because she knows it’s time to get home to get her nails trimmed? No, they live vicariously in the moment. Always. Shouldn’t we be more like them? Take a walk and smell the roses. Literally. Stop texting, or talking on the phone. Take in everything around you. Feel the sun, the wind, smell the flowers, see the butterflies, hear the birds chirping. Live fully right here, right now.
We’re too busy multitasking, racing through our days because we have so much to do. Who wouldn’t want a simpler, more full life? Learn from your dogs. Next time you take a walk together, be fully present. And let me know how it goes.