How dogs help us heal?

How dogs help us heal

Dogs - A friend of man

A World Unleashed

Bill Benson

Bill Benson, LMFT, LPCC

Envision the world when your grandparents were your age. Just a couple generations ago, business moved slowly, formally, and methodically. In your ancestors’ era, letters were dictated to secretaries, phone calls were planned, and parents punched time clocks at 9 am and were back home just past 5 pm, ready for a family dinner.

Today, slow and steady has evolved into fast and furious. Since, we answer our correspondences via laptop and are always reachable by way of Smartphone. Our shift away from the boundaries and methods of past generations is having a profound emotional impact. As a result, current business practices are devouring our personal lives at a pace that’s putting our leisure time on the endangered species list.

Despite multitasking being modern societies go-to for getting things done, multitasking is inefficient-even bad for our health!

A recent study found it took on average 40 percent longer for students to complete complicated math equations while considering other tasks.[1] It also showed that bundling activities increases the release of stress hormones into our bodies, which chemically knock us off-balance and can lead to stress-based illness. If this weren’t enough, our fluttering between tasks can create a vicious emotional cycle, where we multitask, take longer to get things done, fear we’ve fallen behind; compelling us to multitask more….

Happiness is a state of mind

Masks - State of Mind

Masks showing mind state

Advances in technology may have made tasks easier to complete, but we have become emotionally dazed and confused in the process. The modern era provides our brains a feast of figures to chew on. So, we stuff ourselves with data and work through lunch, skip the gym, and labor long into the evening, creating a dangerous personal imbalance. As society concentrates almost exclusively on mental muscle, our culture’s emotional strength is atrophying.

Like many of us, you are doing more to have more to be more. Because the computer in your head sees this as the pathway to happiness. Your brain, my brain-anyone’s brain-will sacrifice anything to get what you tell it you need. Yet, despite consumerism’s promise, we can never feel satisfied if we rely on task completion or material accumulation to define us. Well being is the marriage of emotion and logic and can never be discovered through busyness; because happiness is a state of mind.

Dog Logic

I often prescribe play sessions with dogs to remedy brain blowout. Why? – Because dogs are naturally in the moment and don’t let their thinking get in the way.

Dogs blissfully chew on life one bone at a time and approach their days with ease because they don’t over-complicate or over-schedule. They focus on what’s right in front of them.

If you have a pooch, take a moment to find him. What’s he doing? Is he sniffing around the kitchen for crumbs? Maybe he’s pawing a hodgepodge bed together with your dirty clothes. Perhaps he’s “protecting” your property by barking at the mail carrier.

Try carving out some time to play ball with your dog and awaken to the give-and-take of natural and instinctual interaction….

Our dogs can teach us to regain life’s upper hand by dealing with life one moment at a time. As we step back from our schedules, we gain the awareness which gives our brains clear commands to follow. With this simplicity, our brains become our obedient dogs. Eager to please – as we, not our schedules, determine our moods and balance.

Instead of allowing your brain to rush you down life’s path, step-in and get a leash on your thinking. With your brain minding you, you can determine the appropriate road that makes your walk through life much more fetching….

[1] Naish, John. “Is Multi-tasking bad for your brain?”, August 11, 2009.