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A Dog's 4P Recipe for Holiday Contentment

Updated: Mar 25

Lessons for a happy Dog's Life

Meet Ringo. He knows a thing or two about contentment. Most dogs do. It's not something he has to work at or develop as a skill; it is rather an allowing. That's a bit foreign to us humans. We tend to strive, strain, and stress over how to be content, especially during the holidays. Not Ringo. He allows contentment to happen, and it rests on 4 innate qualities that we humans might want to consider developing - since they are not innate in us, but can be cultivated. The reward? An easy satisfaction with life as it is, a certain peace, centered on Ringo's 4 P's.

The first P is for Presence. This might well be the most challenging quality to develop since we rarely are present to the experience at hand. Actually, we generally miss it while we strategize and try to force certain outcomes. Meanwhile, Ringo simply focuses on what is happening here and now. When he goes for a walk, he does not walk in order to get somewhere; he simply goes for a walk. If we were to develop Presence, we might truly marvel at the holiday lights all around town rather than struggle with getting our own lights strung. We might relish the smell of a Christmas tree, take in the deep red of a poinsettia, or witness the delight in a child's first Hanukah gift. In the absence of all holiday-driven cheer, we might even absorb the peace of quiet time, a warm friendship, or a chance to reflect on what's good while sipping tea or a hot cocoa. Ringo does (not sipping tea or cocoa). He's simply present to this moment. Because he knows this is it.

The second P is for Patience. We're told it's a virtue, but man, is it hard to come by at times. Ringo understands that patience usually pays off. He waits by the door until I return, ever-attentive to the sound of my footsteps because that is what matters right now. And I do return. Oh, joy! He waits patiently for his walk, his food, his treat, his butt scratch. He always gets what he wants, in good time. For us humans, rushing impatiently seems to make us think we get ahead of the game: ahead of traffic, ahead of the holiday gift-buying rush, ahead of each other. Yet, we likely will get there whether we are patient or not, without sacrificing - yup, presence. While we hurry and put others in our hurry, our blood pressure rising, Ringo patiently awaits for life to unfold. He allows, patiently, for all things to happen as they will.

I know, I also retort "but you have to plan if you want to get things done!" and "if you don't hurry and insist you'll lose out!" The question, though, is at what cost? I can recall many situations that worked out just fine when patience prevailed over frenetic forcing. Ringo allows for a steady, patient pace. He's fine with that.

Playfulness is the third P. As humans we are so very serious, about so many things. We have responsibilities and expectations to meet. Yet, along the way we lose the childlike quality of playfulness that Ringo never does. We forget to laugh at ourselves, try on a silly hat, dance like no one's watching, or make a child giggle. Ringo remembers to play. Whether chasing a ball for no reason, rolling in deep grass, or trying to catch his own tail, he plays. Playing makes life fun. Yes, fun! Imagine that.

The final P is for Pure, as in authentic, untainted, sterling, and clear. Ringo's heart is pure; if he loves, he loves - no conditions. He is not beholden to others' opinions or self-imposed limitations. You always know where he stands because he cannot manipulate, deceive, or alter his essence. He is loyal, constant, and plainly communicates what he needs. He also gives freely. He's the real deal. We humans are shaped by so many expectations, especially during the holidays, that we sometimes lose touch with our very essence. How freeing it must feel to simply be pure and honest, to ourselves and the world! The good news is that we can always return to who we are and show up to each experience with genuineness. It just takes a little practice.

So there are Ringo's 4 P's. They are a great recipe for contentment during the holidays, but surely, they are life lessons that can allow for a happy Dog's Life.

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