Success and Simplicity Lessons From My Dog, Shep

Shep’s not too worried about life: Photo by Deccio Creative.

Humans spend too much time doing the nonessential. We spend too much time worrying. And we forget about the important things in life. Not so for our four-legged friends.

Part of reaching our goals and finding success is in keeping life simple. Some of the most successful people in the world make a point to live simple lives. We can learn some solid lessons about success and simplicity from dogs.

My Dog Knows What’s Important In Life

Dogs don’t need much: just food, water, shelter, play, and a little attention does them just fine. If a dog has more than that, it’s their owner’s preoccupation. Dogs, like most animals, set perfect examples of living minimally.

Shep is a Border Collie-Australian Shepard mix. He’s a loyal and playful companion. He lives for the moment, rather than in the past or the future. This is why Shep and many dogs don’t deal with fear as humans do.

Shep Doesn’t Worry About Not Being Good Enough

Often, we buy things, simply to try to prove our self-worth. This makes no sense. If we can’t discover worth within our inner-being, we won’t find it in stuff. Why do you think that new car or new boat will make you happy? It won’t. It will only complicate your life. You’ll need insurance. You’ll have bigger monthly payments. You’ll need extra room. In the end it might make you more anxious.

I’ve never seen Shep dragging things home in order to make himself happy. I doubt he’s thinking about how much better he’ll feel about himself if he gets a new toy or a new ball. He just wants to chase the ball because he loves to chase the ball. We can learn from that attitude.

Shep Doesn’t Worry About Not Having Enough

We’ve all been told that we need to stock up, especially when the sales are on. You probably know at least one hoarder. Why do people buy or collect more than they need? It likely stems from a deeper psychological issue, a fear of not having enough. I’m always baffled by the contradictory logic of Christians who are also preppers. Jesus tells us not to worry about our needs.

Shep, like the birds that Jesus mentions, does not worry about his next meal. He might get hungry when I feed him late, but I’ve never once heard him complain. He knows he’ll be taken care of. I know that I can live with just a little. I have faith that I’ll survive in any scenario.

Shep Doesn’t Worry About What Others Think

We’ve been taught that we need to drive certain kinds of cars and wear certain brands of clothes. That’s what everybody else is doing. Right? This is a bandwagon fallacy. When we buy stuff to be like others, we do a great disservice to ourselves, and our families. We are in essence saying that we are not unique. This teaches our children that they must conform to cultural norms in order to be happy.

Shep doesn’t need a new collar or a new food bowl to impress his canine friends. Brand names are meaningless in a dog’s world. Learn to purchase goods based on your need and the product’s quality rather than your pride and the product’s name.

Shep Doesn’t Fear Losing Everything

Us silly humans: we worry about money all the time. What if you went broke? I understand that some people might not be able to fend for themselves, but they’re a minority. Losing everything might be exactly what you need to push yourself to the next level in life. Think about the rich man who wanted to know how to get into heaven. When we hold onto our belongings, we get left behind. When we let them go, we are freed.

We rescued Shep from the pound. He had nothing. He had nothing to lose. I doubt he worries about losing his leash or his water bowl. I imagine the only thing my dog Shep fears losing, is Annie and me, his family.

Keep It Simple and Be Success

Rather than considering success something we have to work toward, what if we just simply be success? Like my dog, we can focus on the following things:

  • What’s really important in life: Things like family, friends, and living with purpose. Rather than worrying about what we’re missing or what could go wrong, we can focus on the positive.
  • Knowing that we have intrinsic value: Most dogs I’ve met don’t sulk about their lives. They’re always happy with their place. They know they have value to the ones who love them.
  • Not worrying about having enough: When you think about it, enough is pretty simple. As long as we have food, water, shelter, and someone to love, what more could we really need?
  • Not comparing ourselves to others: You don’t have to be as successful as your neighbor. In fact, sometimes those who appear more successful on the outside are struggling on the inside.
  • Giving up the fear of losing what we have: It’s just stuff. Losing a loved one is never easy. But all the money and material things can be replaced.

When we simply focus on being success rather than all the bad things that could happen, we become better equipped for anything that comes up along the way.

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