I woke yesterday and rose to pray as usual. I took the dog's leash and went out. I was struck by how he is with the world. Quite simply, his appearance at my appearance with the leash was one of joy. I thought to myself how a human might relate to the same situation.
Here is a creature who loves to run free, and he is chained up to a bathtub in the side yard at least 23 hours a day, gets food when we remember, and is excited when we bring our food waste to the compost pile.. When someone shows up for a ten minute walk he is just bouncy. My point is he just accepts his context and plays from there.
I think of how many a human would relate, lament his chains, moan that he must suffer the elements when others can come inside, and suffer that he only gets out ten minutes a day. He couldn't enjoy his ten minutes because he would know he is returning to his bonds.
I don't think the dog has any capacity to choose. He just is and that's okay. However humans do, and so often we choose to dwell on the negative, the mortgage that must be paid instead of the fact that there is a roof over our head, the lack of a job instead of the capacity to work, the extra few pounds instead of the fact that we have what to eat.
So what to do. Orientating ourselves to the positive is quite achievable. As Shawn Achor of GoodThink relates about eleven minutes into his Ted Talk, it's a matter of gratitude, reflection, exercise and acts of kindness.
To get started, pick one. I think gratitude is the easiest. Start thanking people. Start noticing what they can be thanked for. Some people always seem to have a smile for us. Some will always pick up the phone when we call. Note it and say thank you at least three times a day. Try it for three weeks and let me know how it's going.