You’ve probably seen that bumper sticker that says, “Wag More, Bark Less.” I love the simple wisdom in that advice. It’s all too easy for our complicated human lives to have us feeling like barking or hissing, but maybe we really ought to be taking a cue from our four-legged friends about how to proceed through life.
My cat Bo was rescued from a McDonald’s parking lot, but he is one of the best examples I know of how to deal with what life dishes out to you and keep on smiling. He used to be somebody else’s pet, because when we found him he had on a collar that hadn’t grown with him and was now too small and beginning to cut into his skin. I fell in love with him the minute I picked him up. Although he didn’t know me or what I had in mind for him, he immediately assumed the best and began to purr.
Even though he accepted me right away, Bo had good reason to be wary of humans. He’s got a big, silver swath of scar tissue on his side that will never grow fur again. Our vet said it was from a chemical burn, and although I suppose it could’ve been accidental, that doesn’t seem like the most likely scenario. The burn was so severe that it actually damaged the muscle in his back leg and he limps a little and can’t jump too well. Still, he saunters along, and can make it up to his food bowl on the counter, with a little stop first on the bar stool. It never fails, and never fails to make me smile – when I put food in his bowl, the outboard motor goes on. Maybe Bo was always a big fan of breakfast – he is rather like the Mario Batali of cats, but I suspect that having been a hungry street cat for part of his life has contributed to Bo’s enjoyment of daily chow. He also loves to be petted, let outdoors, played with or given fresh water. His life is pretty much one big celebration of all the great things in it, despite the fact that it wasn’t always so easy or enjoyable.
It’s really not that surprising that Bo purrs when he gets fed or petted, although the fact that he still does it every single time is endearing. He also purrs when he goes to the vet as well. Poke him, prod him, or give him a shot and you get nothing but an easy-going purr. The doctor has a hard time listening to his heart because Bo just doesn’t stop. They usually have to take him back in the surgery area and set him next to a sink with running water as a distraction in order to get in a listen.
I’ve read that cats often purr as a reaction to stress and that some cats even purr when they are injured, but I think we humans could still learn something from that. What if the next time you were tired or worried, you didn’t get crabby, but instead started to smile and hug those around you? Your family might think you were off your rocker and if you did this at work, they certainly would, but it would sure change the dynamic of the moment. Even if you didn’t go quite that overboard, you could still find ways not to get sucked into the drama of the moment.
I believe that how we react to what happens to us is in large part habit and that those habits are possible to change. Right now I’m working on being more patient, and I’m tracking my progress by giving myself a daily grade on a month-at-a-time calendar. I really want to get to the point where I not only don’t display impatience or annoyance most of the time, I don’t even feel it most of the time. I’m not there yet, but I am doing better and I know if I keep working at it and tracking my progress, I’ll have a much higher degree of success. Fortunately for me, I’ve also got a shining inspiration living right in my own house giving me daily reminders to purr more and hiss less.
The Radio Spot
The next Spiritual Integration with Life Coach Laura show will air live on Friday, January 28 (and every last Friday of the month) at 11:30 am ET on internet station, Blog Talk Radio.
All shows are recorded and available on demand at this link and on iTunes immediately after the live airing.
This month I’ll be talking with Kim Williams, the developer of The 4 Demands of Joy, a program for understanding life’s four demands, rooted in design, desire, discipline and delight. He believes that mastering these demands is the key to finding deep and abiding joy and that who we are begins with what we believe and what we believe is created by what we do every day.
Kim spent 15 years as a pastor. After he left the pulpit in 1999, Kim discovered a passion for sales. He also teaches classes and speaks to groups about The 4 Demands of Joy (www.the4demands.com).
To listen live, click here on the day of the show (Friday, January 28 at 11:30 am ET).