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.
Ever since she was a wee pup, Honey’s had an interesting habit. When she’s puzzled or confused or uncertain she sits down and scratches her neck. It’s a great gesture.
Stopping to scratch give Honey time to consider what I’m expecting from her.
Honey does this far less now because we understand each other much better today than when she was 3 months old. But I saw an interesting example of it the other day.
As we got to an intersection, I turned when Honey expected me to cross the street. She stopped, sat, and scratched. She obviously didn’t like my choice of route. But Honey knew she wasn’t supposed to pull on leash either.
I think Honey decided to scratch while she was considering how to tell me it was important to her to go the other way. I took the hint and walked in the direction she desired which prompted her to pop off the ground and vigorously smell something decorating the grass beside the crosswalk.
I need to learn a similar gesture.
I’m told I talk very fast. (But it’s only Ithacans who tell me that; I never heard that in Philly–maybe people hear slower here?). And my mouth works much faster than my brain.
So maybe I need a new gesture–something to slow me down a bit while I consider things. Since I do a lot of public speaking, I’ve worked hard to eliminate “ums,” “ers” and “y’knows” from my speech. So I’ve got to come up with a habit that allows me to slow down a bit and think.
What should it be? I don’t want to add any verbal tics. I’ve worked too hard to eliminate them. And I don’t see myself taking up smoking. Besides, all my current friends would stop talking to me (which, I guess, would give me lots of time to think).
So what should I do? Honey says I should just sit on the ground and scratch. I don’t think that will look too natural.
What do you do when you need to stop and think a while? This is a great question for you introverts. Do you have any habits you use to give you time to consider what you want to say?