Last Friday night, as I (Dr. Perry Jameson) arrived home from the hospital, Flipper, my 6-year-old hound mix, a Charleston Animal Society rescue, dashed out of the dog door to greet me as I stepped from my truck.
This is what he does every day, rain or shine, hot or cold.
During my 30-minute commute, I had been pondering all of the responsibilities and could feel my stress level rising. Seeing Flipper's joy at my return home made me think, "Why can't I be as happy as him? What can I learn from this happy mutt?"
I decided I want to approach life the way Flipper does. So here are some lessons I have learned from him that have made my life, and hopefully those that share it with me, better.
Greet your family and friends like you missed them.
I am not the only one that Flipper rushes to greet. Each family member gets this same overjoyed reception.
So now I try to greet my human family members like I am glad to see them when I, or they, arrive home. I get up from the TV or put my paper down and rush to them with a hug. It makes them and me feel better.
Flipper will play any time, any where and with anyone who wants. He will play by himself with a tennis ball or towel. He is always eager to go on a run with me, even at 6 a.m.
So now I am trying to do the same. If the kids want to play a game, I try not to say no every time and even occasionally instigate one myself. I find that while having fun, I forget about the stresses in my life.
Live for the moment.
Flipper does not worry about tomorrow, he lives in the moment. This is a lesson I also have learned from patients. Many dogs and cats have come to me where I have found cancer, yet at the time they are asymptomatic. I tell their owners how, at this moment, it is harder on us than their pet.
All the dog or cat knows is they got to spend extra time with mom and dad. As the owners, we focus on the future we will have without them instead of enjoying the day we get with them right now.
So now I try to focus more on all the great things going on in my life instead of the ones in the future I cannot change anyway.
Forgive and forget quickly.
There are so many times I reprimand Flipper for getting food off of the counter or eating the cats' food. He knows I love him and seems to forget immediately that I was ever upset.
So now I try to do the same with my family, friends and co-workers. Once we have discussed an issue and come to a resolution, I try to forget about it. These are the people I want to share my life with and no point brooding over a mistake I or they made. Flipper wouldn't.
Show your love.
If I make eye contact with Flipper, he will wag his tale. If I get close, he will lick my face. He always is quick to let me know how he feels about me.
So I have been trying to be better about giving my family a hug, telling my employees I appreciate their work, even letting Dr. Henri Bianucci know he has been a great business partner.
It is hard to believe I have learned so many life lessons from the little puppy the kids and I adopted six years ago from the Charleston Animal Society.
Send questions to firstname.lastname@example.org.