“People don’t change.”
My mama was the first person to utter those all-too-true words to me in reference to some boy who I thought was perfect…or at least could be if I could tweak him in just the slightest way possible. Who among us hasn’t tried to change a significant other or even a friend? If you haven’t then let me save you a lot of time and effort and give you two pieces of advice: (1) people don’t change (2) Mom’s are ALWAYS right.
At some age, you simply are who you are. You can change how you dress or even how you talk. You can eat organic and stop smoking, but you are always you. If your dad was horrible to you when you were young – you hate your dad. If you never want to get married – you never want to get married. If a cat attacked you – you probably aren’t too keen on cats. Even if it was years ago. People spend thousands of dollars at psychologist offices trying to access (or repress!) memories that are causing them mental anguish. They want to change the way they think so they can change the way they act. No completely impossible but no easy task.
This is why I love dogs. They are exactly the opposite of us. Dogs live completely in the moment. Changing the way a dog thinks and acts is as simple is creating a routine and being patient. The Lost Dogs by Jim Gorant is a perfect example of this. (I’m not even going to go into the dog fighting or Michael Vick aspect of this book!) The book chronicles the lives of pit bulls who were kept in deplorable conditions, perpetually starved and beaten, and trained to be brutal fighters. It’s been a few months since I’ve read the book, but I believe it is something like 99% of them were rehabilitated and went on to lead wonderful lives. It wasn’t easy, and sometimes it was scary for those working to help them. Once they were removed from that horrible situation, though, they immediately began to heal. If you don’t want to read the book, just pick it up the next time you are at Barnes & Noble. The pictures included – shots taken of the dogs with families, often with small children – are sufficient evidence to know these truly are changed animals.
I can say with all certainty that if I had been chained up, starved, and constantly abused for a matter of hours (let alone weeks/months/years) I would not be able to recover in such a short time. By looking to our four-legged friends, we can learn how to live in the moment. My puppy Buffy was found with her orphaned litter mates on the side of the road. We then adopted her and (though we are fabulous parents!) took her away from her brothers and sisters to a strange new environment. Do I think she wakes up some mornings missing her siblings? No. Do I think while dozing off for a nap she curses me for not letting her go outside to play earlier in the day? Of course not. She lives in the moment! She thinks about food when she’s hungry and sleep with she’s tired. She doesn’t worry about that paper she shredded or that shoe she chewed up (although in that moment, she knew I was mad!) All she knows is that she’s happy and healthy and that she has a loving home.
So, the next time you come home from work beating yourself up over the failed presentation, the lost sale, the bad quarter….try to be more like your pup. Just let it go. We are only human, so you won’t forget about it entirely. But trust me, you’ll feel a lot better.
And that’s why you should ditch your shrink and get a dog.