Gretchen Rubin wrote in The Happiness Project about the year she spent “test-driving the wisdom of the ages, the current scientific studies, and the lessons from popular culture about how to be happy.” The Puppiness Project is my attempt to learn the same from Honey, my Golden Retriever.
I can make a guilt-fest out of anything. Sadistic dictators in the Middle East? Yeah, that’s my fault because I still own a car (I’m sure our government is propping up violent regimes to keep my Subaru gassed up). How about Kentuckians having their wells poisoned by mountain-top removal to get coal? Yup, that’s me too. I should have just moved closer to the window instead of turning on that (fluorescent) reading light.
I even feel guilty from good things, nice things, like receiving a Stylish Blogger award from Vicky at Paw Print City Times. I feel guilty that I was too tired to write a better thank you post. I feel guilty that I somehow failed to add No Dog About It Blog to the award list, especially since Mel has such a great post about pet stores here. I feel guilty that my 7 things list wasn’t more interesting.
Pitiful. And narcissistic. Time to get a lesson from Honey.
You see, dogs don’t feel guilt. People project it onto their dogs.
Honey does what she needs to do and then she moves on. Hubby leaves his boots on the rug in front of the door? Honey just brings one up to the couch to sniff and nibble on. She doesn’t ask herself, “Did I bring the boot upstairs the right way?” Or, God forbid, “Should I be chewing on the boot at all?” Honey just does what she needs to do and then she moves onto the next thing.
Honey is not the only critter who has things to teach me. I’ve been reading William Powers’ Twelve by Twelve: A One-Room Cabin Off the Grid & Beyond the American Dream. In the book, William’s mentor, Jackie, shares her mantra for taking positive action: “See, Be, Do.” And the “Be” in that phrase does not stand for “be guilty.” It means be present in yourself before striking out to take action.
And that’s why I keep coming back to the same doggy lesson over and over again. Dogs are Zen masters at living in the moment. No room for guilt. No room for regrets. If we could combine dog centeredness with human intellect, we could change the world.
So with Honey’s help, I’m going to let go of the guilt. I’m going to live in the moment and bring my outer life into greater harmony with my inner values. I will spend less time feeling guilty and more time taking concrete steps to increase my life’s sustainability. And I’ll learn how to enjoy the community that comes with a fun blogging award.