ADAPTED FROM ERIC BARKER’S 6 STOIC RITUALS THAT WILL MAKE YOU HAPPY – Site – dailystoic.com
1. Events Don’t Upset You. Beliefs Do.
“Emotions aren’t random. They follow from beliefs.”
Your dog is first and foremost a dog – he will bark, he will chew, he will dig, he will use his mouth to grab, bite, and explore, he will get wildly distracted, he will learn some things fast and some will take a bit longer to get down. He is an individual – a product of his DNA, what happened in the womb, what happened in his litter, and what happened after his litter – no two dogs are alike, even if from the same litter. He is a living thinking, thoughtful, decision making creature living in the now by doing what is most interesting at that particular moment, and there will be many times that other things in life will be much more interesting to pay attention to than you – especially as a teenage dog. You can’t let what your dog chooses to do upset you because you believe your dog should behave differently.
In moments of frustration or discouragement – instead of thinking your dog is being stubborn or trying to spite you, realize he might be doing something you find undesirable because he finds it fun, hasn’t learned what to do instead, or is simply bored. You will find that when you accept your dog literally as a dog, really coach and teach him life rules, understand that it may take some time and patience for him to get these rules down, go with the flow, nurture the relationship, build trust and a solid bond, and eliminate expectations of how your dog should be, you will find being a dog owner very rewarding and enjoyable.
“Nothing either good nor bad but thinking makes it so.” – Shakespeare
2. Control What You Can. Ignore the Rest.
“A key part of Stoicism is just asking yourself, ‘Can I do anything about this?’ If you can, do it. If you can’t… then you can’t. But worrying achieves nothing but stress.”
Owning a dog will produce many unpredictable events – especially when they are youngsters. Dogs, like us, are sentient beings after all. If your dog chews up the remote, pottied on the rug, catches the very easy to catch Kennel Cough virus, doesn’t want to sleep in the bed with you, or must potty at 3am until his bladder matures – its ok. What’s done is done – it does no good to get upset, fret, and worry! Going forth, just control what you can and turn this into a learning opportunity – put remotes up, make sure you have a solid potty-training routine set up – accepting the fact that all pups have accidents here and there regardless of how committed to the process you are. If he gets sick – get medicine and nurse him back to health, and with some things – just know these are phases and will pass or may just be a part of your dog’s personality!
“If you don’t have control, worrying won’t make it better. And going back to the first point, it might be a good idea to ask yourself what your belief is that’s causing all this worry… Yeah, it could very well be irrational.”
“God, grant me the serenity to accept the things I cannot change, Courage to change the things I can, and Wisdom to know the difference.”
3. Accept Everything. But Don’t Be Passive.
“Nobody likes the word ‘accept.’ We think it means ‘give up.’ It doesn’t.”
If your pup is a jumper, accept it – but don’t just accept and simply permit the behavior. Don’t just say “we SHOULD fix this jumping problem” ACCEPT it and ADDRESS it.
• My dog should not bark at the mailman
• My dog should not be afraid at the vets
• My dog should know where to go potty
• My dog should not pull on his leash.
Using the word “should” is passive acceptance because we often just live with “should” statements. “Should statements” are often irrational beliefs which breed negative emotions, so accept reality – just don’t be passive.
IT IS RAINING -It’s undeniably here and you have to accept it. Depending on where you work, pretending that getting drenched before entering your work place is not a problem is complete denial and saying “I should grab my umbrella before I go” and not grabbing it is pointless. However, accepting the rain and grabbing an umbrella is a solution to the undeniable and completely eliminates what you “should” do!
• My dog barks at the mail man and we are working on making sure the mailman had treats so my dog loves to see him come
• My dog is afraid of the vets, so we are taking him randomly to vet offices for treats and touching to make sure he develops a love for the vet
• My dog pottied on the rug, so I am setting reminders on my phone to make sure my pup gets out on potty breaks more frequently
• My dog pulls pretty badly on the leash, so we hired Noble Beast Dog Training to get some solid coaching on this.
“Acceptance to us means resignation but to the Stoics it meant accepting the facts as they are and then deciding what you’re going to do about them.” – Eric Barker
4. Choose to always be better today than you were yesterday
4. Choose to always be better today than you were yesterday
Dog training and raising a dog is something you learn and it takes time to learn to do it properly – just like parenting. How many parents learned how to be a better parent AFTER the first kid or fur-kid?
One of the best ways to be better is to surround yourself with mentors, role models, and coaches. These people are great for helping you be your best and you can find them in person, on the internet, or even in books! Don’t just accept you don’t know something, take the time to learn about it from someone you admire, respect, and is doing what you wish to do well – then apply what you learn to your life daily.
If you do this specifically with your dog – you are going to eliminate much of the challenges most people have when they bring a dog into their lives – guaranteed!
“If I have seen further it is by standing on the shoulders of giants.” — Isaac Newton
5. Rituals Are Essential
How do you make sure you’re actually improving? How do you know you’re making progress toward being the best you? Plenty of research shows that rituals can really improve your life.
Rituals are not only great for you as a person to get you ready for the day, reflect on how things went and figure out what to improve, but also for your dog to know what to expect. Dogs thrive with routine and knowing what is coming next! Put your dog’s training on a schedule you both can look forward to, that will ensure training success in all areas, and eliminate confusion or miscommunication. You will find that once you have routines in place, you AND YOUR DOG, will eventually just gravitate and create really positive habits – TOGETHER! At the very least it will teach your dog how to live compatibly with you in a most harmonious way!
“As long as you live, keep learning how to live.” – Seneca
• Events Don’t Upset You. Beliefs Do: Only the end of the world is the end of the world.
• Control What You Can. Ignore the Rest: Worrying never fixed anything.
• Accept Everything. But Don’t Be Passive: Nobody recommends denial. Accept. And then do something.
• Choose to always be better today than you were yesterday: What would someone I look up to or learn from do in this situation?
• Rituals Are Essential: Plan for the day, then reflect on the day – create those great habits
Another important Stoic principle to mention is GRATITUDE.
Once in a while, take a few moments to envision your life WITH your cherished things, then envision being WITHOUT those cherished things. Doing this makes you have a newfound appreciation, makes you happier and makes you realize how lucky you are. Appreciate the moments with your furry ones (even the ones you find challenging) and apply the 5 principles above to foster a happier and healthy relationship with them .
Co-Written by Trainers Mehak Greenberg & Mindy Jarvis