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.
Bone Weary – the Puppy Version
I’ve never had a dog as smart as Honey. It’s a pleasure to train her. Just a couple of repetitions and she’s captured a new behavior.
But even the smartest dog can get a full brain and become bone weary of learning. That’s why dog trainers tell us to break our training sessions into no more than five minutes scattered throughout the day.
Here’s what it looks like with Honey:
- We start out practicing targeting with the bike trailer.
- After a few excellent repetitions, Honey just stops.
- She looks up at me.
- She lies down on the floor.
Yep, she’s done. The Retriever brain is full. It’s time to take a break.
Bone Weary – the Human Version
What is a typical week like for you? A full-time job? Raising a family? Caring for multiple animals? Volunteering? Writing a blog? Caring for elderly relatives? Home renovations? Running a business?
Whew, I’m getting tired just thinking about all the things we try to crowd into a week.
What does it look like when our brains get too full?
- We lose our motivation to do our usual tasks.
- We feel guilty and bash ourselves for not doing what we should.
- We go get an awful snack and watch bad reruns on TV while feeling even more guilty.
Maybe we need to be as kind to ourselves as we are to our tired out pup who’s had too much time in training.
Bone Weary – the Cure
When Honey’s brain is tired, we stop. It’s time for zoomies in the yard, a game of tug, or a cuddle on the couch.
Of course, when our own brains are tired, we aren’t usually as kind to ourselves. But we must be. Or we’ll never last.
So if you’re feeling unmotivated and can’t get something done that you know you should (probably the most evil word in the English language), take a break.
And if you find yourself doing something different that’s real or mischievous, that enriches your body, your mind, or your relationships, congratulate yourself. You’ve just become as smart as a puppy.