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Why adaptability makes dogs happier than people

Why adaptability makes dogs happier than people

How resilient are you? Here is what we can learn from our pups

Today, I am eager to share something with you, and at the same time, I am worried that I will wind up sounding like an old guy talking about “the good old days.

But I have to accept that I can’t please everyone because whenever I write something a little more punchy, a few friends always ask if I am writing about them. Frankly, I don’t have anyone specific in mind, but this may be about all of us when I think about it.

Do you find that the easier life is for people, the more they seem to complain?

One of the driving forces behind progress is our desire for safety, comfort, and physical and emotional well-being; all of these things fall under the “happiness umbrella.” So it makes sense that we want a good life — why shouldn’t we?

But when life is too easy, we get used to it very quickly and become less resilient, which makes us experience discomfort when we face minor problems and challenges. In a way, comfort and having an easy life creates the emotional equivalent of a person who loses their physical fitness by spending most of their time on a couch watching TV.

We all understand that exercise, training, and some discomfort make us physically fit or that cold water swimming and using a sauna helps us become more heat and cold-resistant.

Mental and emotional comfort is similar. When we are not challenged enough, we lose the ability to resist, which is happening in the developed world. At least one to two generations have had unprecedented levels of comfort. Unfortunately, some parents have lost themselves in sheltering their children and preventing them from experiencing any of life’s struggles.

It is the equivalent of protecting them from physical exercise.

Everyone should be praised and acknowledged when they do a great job, but many kids are told they have done a great job, even if it isn’t true. They always get what they want and are not taught to appreciate others when they do something for them. Giving seems to be a one-way street; gratitude is swapped for entitlement.

But then they land in the real world. The shock often breaks them mentally and emotionally as they have not practiced "life" enough when growing up. As a result, they have a hard time adapting to life’s ever-changing conditions, and they suffer. The suffering is real, resulting in an increasing mental health crisis, drug abuse, and unhappiness.

Many children have not been taught that they must be adaptable to be happy. In the sauna, we expose our bodies to extreme heat followed by icy cold water or snow, and in life, we need to practice tolerating uncomfortable events and become more resilient.

If someone doesn’t like air conditioning, perhaps it is better to strive to get used to it rather than making everyone else feel uncomfortable.

Instead of complaining, we need to find proactive solutions. 
We may not always succeed, but at least we have tried.

When we get stuck in traffic, it is an excellent opportunity to listen to music, audiobooks and podcasts and learn to be awesome instead of being upset about something beyond our control.

I often hear people saying that many successful people have had a more leisurely start, but this is often untrue. For example, trust fund kids commonly have difficulty finding a good rhythm in life, and people who come from poverty have great success.

I agree that some people have been unlucky, or trauma and mental illness have disadvantaged them. But most of us have to strive to be stronger and fitter physically and mentally, and mental and emotional fitness does not come from living a perfect sheltered life.

We must keep trying, and as our adaptability increases, other people of a similar mindset will be drawn to us. We will have great jobs that we love, and others will love spending time with us. Being adaptable is a gift we give others; it is an act of generosity.

Of course, I will not let an opportunity to make a dog/human comparison slip by. 

We love dogs because they are masters at being adaptable and tolerant, so perhaps we should strive to be like them.

About the author

Dr. Peter Dobias, DVM is an Integrative veterinarian, nutritionist and creator of natural supplements for dogs and people. Helping you and your dog prevent disease, treat nutritional deficiencies, and enjoy happier, healthier, and longer lives together.

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