What Dogs Can Teach Us About Mindfulness

mindfulnessPets have a unique way of helping us cope with many things life throws at us. It’s inherent in them to love us unconditionally and to always remain by our side. Some research even suggests that having pets can help reduce stress. Today, I’m going to explain to you what your dog can teach you about being mindful.

Mindfulness Tip #1: Celebrate Success

When you first get a dog, you’re working with him to get him trained and that means treats…for him. Your dog is willing to do anything you ask so long as you continue to positively reinforce his behavior. This is his way of celebrating his success. He knows that if he sits, he’s getting a reward. He’s not worried about how he’s sitting or if he fell over just a little. He’s happy he followed the command and gets to celebrate his success with a tasty treat.

It’s time to start celebrating your successes, no matter how small you think they may be. Give yourself a pat on the back for getting to work on time even though you overslept. That’s important! Focus more on your successes and you’ll notice that you have more of them than you think.

Mindfulness Tip #2: Let Go of Mistakes

There isn’t a dog around that worries about what others think of him so why should you? Dogs go through life happy because they’re not carrying around a mistake that happened 10 years ago. They’re not worried about which dog has the latest chew toy or who has a more expensive leash. Dogs focus on themselves.

Your life is yours to live in the best possible way. While you may not have the latest fashions or gadgets, it’s important to focus on what you do have; your family, friends, career, sense of humor, and much more. It’s not selfish to take care of yourself; it’s essential to your overall well being. It’s time to let go of what you can’t change and chalk it up to a lesson learned.

Mindfulness Tip #3: Enjoy Downtime

How many dogs do you see always on the go? It’s not many, if any at all. Most dogs are content to lie around, especially in your lap, and sleep. Dogs focus on one thing at a time and then move on.

In today’s world, it’s easy to get sucked into working all the time and making excuses for why we’re so busy. Take a page from your dog’s playbook and learn to relax a little more. It’s time to slow down, even for a moment, and learn to enjoy the moment. Everything you’re working on will still be there when you return.

If we’re not careful, life will pass us by and there’s no do-over. It’s important to focus on what really matters, such as spending quality time with family and friends, enjoying a good book, appreciating a nice cup of coffee, and so on. Living in the moment allows us to enjoy all of these things while still taking care of life’s necessities. Remember that you’re one of those necessities!

My name is Amanda Itzkoff, MD. I am a New York City based Psychiatrist and Assistant Professor at Mount Sinai Medical Center.

For additional information, please feel free to email our office at Amanda.Itzkoff@gmail.com.

To schedule an appointment, call our offices at 917-609-4990.

Be well,
Dr. Amanda Itzkoff
Dr. Amanda Itzkoff

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