Wednesdays are simplicity days at SimpleProductivity blog.
While I was writing the article about cat productivity, I caught my dog looking at me sadly. A beagle, she has mastered the whole “puppy dog sorrowful look.” That’s actually why I have a dog right now, but that’s another story for another time. Our dog is an older beagle, adopted as an adult from a rescue, we think about 9 or 10. She is sweet, loving, and generally happy.
My dog looked at me for inclusion. She wants to be on the interwebs too! But no one will ever accuse my dog of being productive. She’s a beagle. For those who don’t know beagles, they aren’t the brightest dogs in the world. In fact, Stanley Coren lists them at the bottom of the list for intelligence.
Still, my dog has things that she can teach me. She has few needs, few desires. Her life is peaceful and simple.
So here is the Beagle’s Guide to Simplicity.
What Are My Needs?
My dog has very simple needs: food, water, a comfy place to sleep, walks, and caressing. Everything else is extraneous. She doesn’t seek out toys, she will sleep anywhere, she will eat anything put in front of her (and some things not put in front of her). She meets her needs in the most straightforward way possible, and is fine with that.
Human application: do we really need the gadget with all the extra features? Do we even need the gadget? Example: my fancy coffee pot broke just a little over a year after purchase. Since coffee is a need for me, I purchased a very simple model and put it on an appliance timer.
My beagle was abused before we got her. We haven’t been able to piece together her whole story, but we do know that she will not bark unless there is a person in the house (and usually not until they are well into the house — see the intelligence comment above). This means that she will not bark to communicate her needs.
However, she has other ways of communicating. If she wants companionship, she will lay down at my feet. If she wants to be petted, she will nudge my hand. If she needs to go outside, she will jump up and put her forepaws on me. There is no guessing. There is no subtlety. She is very direct.
Human application: can you cut the fluff out of your communication? Can you answer every email in 3 sentences or less? Can you be direct and not beat around the bush? Example: if I have a single message to communicate, such as my time sheet is ready to approve, I put that in the subject line and put “– end of message –” at the end of the subject line. I leave the body blank, and the recipient knows he doesn’t have to read anything more.
Taking Things As They Come
My dog is never stressed, except at the vet. She doesn’t care if we go camping on a weekend, or stay home, as long as she is with her “pack”. She goes with the flow and never has trouble sleeping.
Human application: don’t sweat the small stuff, and it’s all small stuff. If you ask yourself if this is going to matter next week or next year, and the answer is “no”, let it go.
My dog isn’t fussy. Particularly about where she sleeps. She can sleep on the floor, in a chair, on the sofa, on a pillow, in her crate, on my bed or in her dog bed. When we go camping, she just finds a soft spot and goes to sleep. When we’re traveling, she curls up on the seat. She makes do with whatever is available wherever she is. She accepts what she has and uses it.
Human application: we all have expectations. But what would happen if instead of wanting things different we just accepted what they are? Example: my husband works three hours away and is gone during the week. I could complain and be grumpy about it, but instead I take the extra time to knock things off my project list.
One of the most amazing things I have learned about dogs is that they are enthusiastic. My dog doesn’t hold herself back when she is excited. If you’ve ever seen Snoopy dancing for dinner in the Peanuts cartoons, let me tell you that is real. Beagles dance for dinner. Mine also dances as soon as she sees me putting on my shoes and coat. When she does something it is with full focus and energy. There is no partial attention for her.
Human application: when we focus on the thing we are doing, we can fully immerse ourselves in it and enjoy it. We don’t have to be distracted by other thoughts and worries. Example: when I am eating, if I am thinking of other things, I will overeat because I am not tasting my food. By focusing on a meal, I taste my food and register when I feel full.
Do you have a canine companion? What can your dog teach you about simplicity? Share below.
Photo by filmismylove