Our dogs are the perfect teachers to help us understand what freedom looks like.
1. They honor their feelings.
Dogs have no issue letting other dogs know if they don’t dig their vibe. They don’t worry if they'll be liked, rejected, or even attacked. They simply honor their feelings, and they deal with the consequences.
Just this morning, I drove up to the mountain to take my dog for a hike, But for some reason today, she was not into it. She repeatedly jumped on me to stop and look at her. Her face and body language pleaded for us to turn around. So we did.
But what if that had been me with a friend? I considered what I would have done in that situation? Would I have been able to honor my feelings without self reproach and never ending apologies?
- What could your life be like you let go of what anyone else thought of you?
- How would you feel about yourself if you started honoring your needs?
2. They are totally present.
No matter what they are doing, dogs are totally present. They chill when we are working, pull the leash to smell everything when we’re walking, and joyfully stick their head out the window when they're riding in the car. Being present allows them to be open to anything that arises, and relaxed enough to enjoy whatever they are doing in every moment.
- When are you the most present?
- What do you notice when you are present?
- What might you discover if you were less distracted and more present?
3. They never take things personally.
I am always amazed when I see my dog Milan comin’ in hot to a group of dogs she doesn’t know at the park. She races in, totally confident, and lets everyone know she wants to play. Most of the time they will engage with her, but sometimes they growl and bark at her to back off. She never growls back, she never takes it personally, she just keeps on trotting, looking for the next dog to play with.
- What mindset would you need, to experience rejection and not take it personally?
- What would your self talk look like to walk through that experience without getting down on yourself?
- How free would you be if you never allowed someone else's opinion to dictate your personal happiness?
4. They play freely.
Milan loves to play with everyone! Her puppy energy is electric and she bounces around, trying to engage anyone who will give her a moment of attention. She is excited, curious, adventurous. Her favorite thing is to run outside the boundaries of the dog park, into the open space, where the cows roam, just to satisfy that curiosity and sense of adventure.
Her spirit inspires me to look for ways I can feel this same sense of play in my life. I have started going on unleashed adventures with her, walking on top of fallen trees and climbing rocks just to see if I can. I get a new perspective when I do, and a feeling of being a child. I let my adult self take a back seat, and I let the child in me go wild. These adventures remind me to look for new ways I can explore life, and see things from a new vantage point.
- What part of your life feels like play?
- How can you incorporate more fun in your life?
5. They love unconditionally.
Dogs offer their love without conditions. It doesn’t matter how much money we have, what kind of house we live in or how we dress, our dog always loves and accepts us exactly as we are.
Freedom is having that unconditional love directed towards ourselves. Knowing who we are, what our purpose is, and what we need to feel alive and joyful in our life is paramount to experiencing unconditional love. Loving unconditionally means accepting all parts of ourselves, even when they look different from everyone else.