My dog showed me the way Part 2
How I Began to Simplify my Life:
My dog showed me the way
So how did my retired greyhound show me a way to a simpler life? My life is better now in many ways than when I was at my happiest before. Some things are easy to see. I have a companion who is so happy to see me when I get home, he dances. He is gentle, and playful, quiet and affectionate. He happily sleeps in his own bed, doesn’t jump on people or beg (much) for food at the table. He is quietly waiting for me to take him out when I wake up, and joyfully when I return from work at night. Yet, he is so large, people who make me a bit nervous near the bus stop get well out of his way. I find myself smiling at people and looking them in the eye as we approach. For many people, this is enough to feel comfortable with us passing close by. If not, it is easy to see on their face so I can step aside for them. People have even thanked me for this.
But here are some other things:
I’m getting up earlier.
Anyone who has known me for a long time, knows that I like to sleep in when I can. I like calm mornings, so for most of my life, I have been getting up with enough time to get ready for work, but mornings were only for that: getting ready for work. Now, I get up with the sun, or even earlier. I have a routine in the morning, but it leaves several hours free before I have to go to work. Some of this time is spent outside, walking. We go out together at least 4 times a day, no matter how hot, rainy or cold it is out there. I can choose to use the remaining time for whatever I want. I can catch up on work if I decide, but very often, I spend this time reading and writing. This has had a big impact on my life. Getting out of bed for my new activities, and taking care of my dog has changed my center away from my job, and towards life.
I watch less TV.
On nights when I was by myself, I used to come home from work and watch TV, mostly to transition from work, so I didn’t take it to bed with me. I sometimes fell asleep while watching TV on the couch, and just stayed there all night. Looking back, I’m surprised to see how many hours I gave to this activity. Now, I go to bed earlier. My evenings are filled with talking to the people most important to me, the practical activities of life, and playing with my dog. I find that not getting news on TV, but reading it in the newspaper and online instead, takes away some of the emotional trauma in my life, without diminishing access to the information. Now, when I am traveling and get most of the news from airport and hotel TVs, it seems that the announcers are yelling, desperately trying to convince me that what they are describing is significant, even if the “breaking news” displayed on the crawler happened yesterday.
I get more sleep.
This is huge. How did I miss this before? I think I avoided going to bed earlier to put off the reflection that comes while you are quiet and not occupied. I kept the TV on while I was awake to have that background dialog to fill the gaps. I think this change is less due to having my dog nearby, and more because of the time I spent thinking about what I wanted to change in my life before his adoption. Now, I spend some time in reflection in the mornings, instead of when I’m trying to fall asleep.
My life is simpler.
I don’t know how this happened, since I discovered this while I was adding new activities to my life, not reducing them. I am around people just as much or more, and I go out just as often. There are a few things that may contribute here: I am less likely to want things. This might be because I am happier, or I might be happier, partly because I don’t feel that I lack having these items in my life. I find that I am exposed to far fewer commercials, which probably contributes to this change. I am certainly exposed to at least as much advertising before, since I spend more time online. Maybe I just don’t have as much that I lack in my life.
What activities would make your life better if you spent more time on them?
Photo Credit: A. Lillie, 2012