The Blog

Why Life Is Better In the Company Of Animals

"Until one has loved an animal, a part of one's soul remains unawakened." 

~ Anatole France

Anyone who has loved a cat, a dog, a horse, or any other creature doesn’t need scientific proof that pets bring meaning, purpose and joy to their human caretakers. However, science confirms that having a pet is good medicine for body, mind and spirit.

An animal companion, especially a dog or cat, enhances physical well-being. Researchers at Cambridge University observed dog and cat owners have lower blood pressure and cholesterol, fewer sleeping problems, and better general health than people who don’t have a pet. A UCLA study of a thousand elderly patients also found dog owners visited the doctor for minor health issues twenty percent less often than non-dog owners.

Having a pet makes life happier as well as healthier. Our animal companions lift our spirits, and help us cope with stress as effectively as practices like meditation and yoga.  They provide strength and support to those living with disability, illness or personal tragedy. Pets also relieve loneliness and depression.  Scientists have shown that a cat or dog can have the same effects on the brain as an anti-depressant drug, by increasing release of endorphins and other pleasure hormones. People who live alone not only find comfort from the company of their pets, but also enjoy the opportunities they provide for conversation and social interaction.

Animals help us maintain a healthy perspective on life. They don’t worry about the future or dwell in the past; they enjoy the present moment and need only the simplest things - food, water, shelter and love - to be happy. Our pets also don’t discriminate or judge. They accept us just the way we are, and teach us to do the same toward everyone.

Since prehistoric times, pet owners have known that a dog is much more than a guardian, cats do more than keep mice out of the grain, and a horse doesn't simply transport us across the face of the earth. They recognize the truth – that man’s best friend is also his best medicine. Welcoming a pet into your home, or simply volunteering at a local shelter, are two ways anyone can experience the benefits of the company of animals.


Just Say No

“Simplicity, simplicity, simplicity! I say, let your affairs be as two or three, and not a hundred or a thousand; instead of a million count half a dozen, and keep your accounts on your thumb nail.”

 ~Henry David Thoreau

For most Americans mid-April is a time to celebrate the arrival of longer days, warm sunny weather, and the joyous holidays of Easter and Passover.  It also often means additional stress, with chores to tackle around home and garden that all need doing at once. And then there’s Tax Day…no need to say more about that!

When life seems to be getting overly complex, too fast, too cluttered, too deadline oriented, or too “type A”, incorporating a bit of simplicity into the schedule can go a long way toward restoring peace of mind.  We often equate simplifying life with physical decluttering – getting rid of old clothes, books and unused things of all sorts.  As important as that can be, it’s even more critical to adjust the way we choose to spend our time.

The first step is to just slow down.  Slow down your speech, your innermost thoughts, and the frantic pace of everything you do. Notice any tendency to interrupt or rush through a conversation, and choose to listen instead. By slowing down, you’ll find yourself moving at the natural speed of all creation and accomplishing more with less stress.

Decision is another key skill for achieving simplicity.  However, the temptation to do and be everything for everyone is sometimes hard to resist.  Here are some ways to use “yes” and “no” wisely in your daily life:

Clear your calendar of unwanted or unnecessary activities and obligations. Practice saying no to excessive demands, and don’t feel guilty about introducing some leisure time into your agenda. 
If you’re grossly overscheduled, you’re going to miss the inspiration and life-altering gifts that the Divine/Infinite freely sends your way.

Keep your free time free. Begin declining invitations that may keep you on top of the social pyramid, but which fail to inspire or enrich you. If cocktail parties, social get-togethers, fund-raising events, or even drinks-and-gossip sessions with friends aren’t really how you want to spend your free time, then don’t. An evening spent reading, watching a movie with a loved one, having dinner with family, or pursuing a favorite hobby can be far more inspiring than attending a function filled with small talk.

Put a safe distance between you and your critics. Life becomes simpler when you don’t feel a need to defend yourself to anyone, and when you receive support rather than criticism. Silently bless the fault-finders or confrontational people in your life and remove yourself from their energy as quickly as possible. You don’t have to endure someone’s negative opinion with anything other than polite thanks and an offer to consider it. In some cases, releasing the relationship entirely, without blame or guilt, may be the best choice. 

To A Simpler Life!

Margery 

Keep Calm And Carry On

One’s ships come in over a calm sea.

~Florence Scovel Shinn


Many of us spend too much time worrying, usually about things that never come to pass.  Worry is a major source of stress that undermines our success, our relationships, our emotional well-being and even our physical health. Jesus pointed out its futility to the crowd who gathered for the Sermon on the Mount.  He asked, “Can any one of you by worrying add a single hour to your life?”

When we obsess about the future or dwell on the past, we not only fail to recognize the opportunities for good in our present situation, but we may actually attract that which we most fear.  Again Jesus advised, "Do not worry about tomorrow; for tomorrow will care for itself. Each day has enough trouble of its own.”

If worry haunts your day or keeps you awake at night, the good news is that you can break this self-defeating habit.  Here are 3 strategies to help you keep calm, carry on, and draw success into your life:

1. Make an appointment with worry.  Instead of worrying all day, designate a short period, 30 minutes or less, to think about all of your challenges and how you might overcome them. Look for creative solutions.  If you start worrying outside of that time, force yourself to think about something completely different.

2. Let go and accept that some things are beyond your control. If you decide that there's nothing you can do to change a situation, acknowledge it, let it go, and then move on. 

3. Cultivate gratitude. When you focus your mind on things you're grateful for, you shift your energy away from worry and into a more positive place that allows you to experience joy rather than stress. 

To Your Best Life!

Margery 


Color Yourself Calm

Art washes away from the soul the dust of everyday life.

~Pablo Picasso


April is National Stress Relief Month, and one of the best ways to celebrate is to do something creative, like drawing or painting. If you feel artistically challenged, however, you can always indulge your inner child by breaking open a fresh box of crayons and working with a coloring book.

Adult coloring books have recently become quite popular, for a variety of reasons. Coloring allows stressed-out adults to feel like carefree kids again. It’s a very uncomplicated activity that involves only yourself and a few simple and inexpensive supplies. Coloring is a great “me” time activity where you don’t have to please or compete with anyone.

The adult coloring book is not a new phenomenon. In the early 20th century, psychologist Carl Jung prescribed coloring as therapy for people with emotional and mental health issues.  He used it to help his patients access their subconscious, and give their logical, conscious mind a chance to rest and recuperate. More recent scientific research suggests that the act of coloring targets the amygdala - the brain’s fear center - and allows it to relax, reducing your overall sense of anxiety.

Adult coloring books in particular can help you train your brain to focus. When you engage your attention on keeping the colors between the lines, you automatically redirect it away from negative emotions like boredom, depression and anger. This helps sharpen your concentration and improve your intellectual skills without elevating your stress to physically damaging levels.  

Adult coloring books are not just healthy for your body and mind - they are also FUN. When you’re having fun you naturally feel more creative, and creative people are more productive, better at problem solving and generally happier with their lives.

Stress relief doesn’t need to be a one-month-a-year goal. You can make it a daily habit. Whenever you have a few minutes of free time, just get out your favorite coloring books, relax and let your creative juices flow.

To your colorful best life!

Margery

© Clear Simple SOULutions LLC 2017