Dogs are great teachers and you can learn life lessons from your dog if you’re paying attention. Buster the boxer is my brand mascot (here is a gratuitous puppy picture…okay, there’s also this one and this one). We’ve spent years diligently training him, which is why he can be pictured on Instagram with food he doesn’t eat to promote my recipes (the pictures of him with my protein cookies are adorable). Buster is also my personal mascot and below I share life lessons you can learn from your dog!

What dogs can teach us
Buster will take on anyone to protect his mom (even his dad)

Life lessons from your dog

Live in the moment. A lot of anxiety comes from living in the past and the future. I’ve wasted countless hours worrying about things that never came to fruition, which I’m consciously retraining my brain to stop doing.

Buster doesn’t have this problem. He embraces right-now-this-second and lives life to the fullest, not caring about what happened yesterday or what could happen tomorrow. Two great mindfulness resources are The Subtle Art of Not Giving a F*ck and Wherever You Go, There You Are, which you can see a picture of Buster reading on Instagram.

Practice forgiveness. There have been times I’ve raised my voice in anger, but Buster always forgives me. He doesn’t sweat the small stuff. Human beings on the other hand? Many of us love to hold grudges, act self-righteous, and play the victim card. But what does that really get us other than bitterness and a bad mood? When you let small stuff go, you’re really setting yourself free.

Play every day. Human beings love to talk about how busy they are and run around frantically doing a lot of things that, in the grand scheme of it all, don’t really matter. We pass up opportunities to have fun so we can be adults. I understand we all have responsibilities, but think about whether the laundry can wait until tomorrow so you can go for an impromptu drive with your partner or chase your kids around the backyard. These are the moments we won’t get back, so let’s seize them.

Greet your people at the door. I am guilty of being so into my projects (or “Olivia world” as one of my friends calls it) that I forgot about certain things, like saying hi to people and making dinner. I make a conscious effort to pull myself away from whatever I’m working on when James gets home to give him a genuine hello and listen to how his day was. I can’t compete with Buster’s welcome home doggy dance though.

Take time to nap. If Buster is tired, he goes to sleep. When I’m tired, I can be guilty of drinking coffee and plugging away to the point of well beyond exhausted. Sometimes all nighters can’t be helped when you’re writing books, but overall, I try to take a page out of Buster’s book and give my body the rest it needs to thrive.

How to seize the moment
Buster hates when his naps are interrupted

Don’t be superficial. Buster doesn’t care if you’re black or white, rich or poor, skinny or obese – he doesn’t judge and he’s happy to be your friend (cookies do help seal the deal though). If humans spent less time judging each other and focusing on bettering ourselves, we’d be a lot happier.

Celebrate everything. New toy? Jump for joy! Mom and dad are home? Let’s dance! Time for a car ride? We could be going to the most exciting place in the world! I think it’s important to celebrate small milestones and to celebrate for no reason. Life is too short not to take every opportunity to smile, be happy and make beautiful memories. Check out my fall bucket list and cheap date ideas for inspiration!

Be courageous. It always makes me smile when chihuahuas challenge Buster. They might be the size of his paw, but they have the hearts of lion and will try against all odds to win. Don’t let fear be your guiding light. I always ask myself, what’s the worst that could happen if I try this? The answer is usually something along the lines of, “well, I wont have whatever it is I’m trying to get.” And that’s perfectly fine because I don’t have whatever it is now, and there is a chance (however small) that I could get it. So I go for it!

Listen more than you talk. Who is the first person to come over and see you when you’re sad? Chances are, it isn’t a person and it’s your dog! Buster always knows when I’m sad and if I’m crying, he’s all over me and licking my face until I have no choice but to laugh. Dogs may not understand many words, but they can feel and are very sympathetic listeners. Many humans just wait for their turn to talk. We should do less of that and more listening.

Don’t worry about what other people think. Have you ever wanted to do or try something, but decided not to because you were afraid of how you would look to other people? Buster goes for whatever he wants and doesn’t care what anyone thinks about his attempt. If he fails, he simply tries again. I always do my best not to let my self-imposed limitations hold me back from living life. Dance like no one is watching, people.

Why we should be more like dogs
Nothing makes Buster happier than playing with his ball

Tell me about your pet! What lessons have you learned from him or her? 

James’ photography essentials 

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