How Pets Help Us Relax

Our brains process thoughts in three ways, as either 1) doing something, 2) driven-doing which is over thinking that causes worry/anxiety/panic, or 3) simply not thinking about anything except enjoying the present moment which is just “being.”  Animals, including our pets, bring us into the present moment of just being. They help our brains take a relaxing break and enjoy the moment.

While reading “The Difference Between “Being” and “Doing” by Zindel Segal, I realized that I spend more time in the “doing” mode vs. the “being” mode. However, I now think maybe one of the reasons I enjoy petting my animals so much is because when spending time with my dogs and cats, my thoughts turn only to the present moment of touch, joy, and love, and it switches my “doing” thoughts off so I can enjoy life in the now. Perhaps it is my version of self-taught meditation, learning how to be still and relaxed in my thoughts.

So when we’re petting our animals, snuggled up next to them, watching them sleep or playfully enjoy life, or out on a hike with them, our thoughts more easily switch gears to the present moment of just “being”. We can smile watching them sleep so soundly. We can share in their joy when they are playing with a leaf, stick, or toy. When they are content, we are content and can enjoy being in the moment.

Research shows people who own pets live longer. The American Heart Association also says research shows people who have a dog recover faster after surgery. When we allow our brains to take a break, turning off all the noise of busy thoughts, we reduce stress and can more peacefully enjoy being in the present. Our pets help us to do this because we shift our focus from our to-do list and planning or over-thinking, to just watching them. They make us smile.

Pets keep us on our toes and our thoughts can switch back and forth quickly when thinking of everything there is to do for our pets. The list is pretty extensive. There is all the care, feeding, grooming, cleaning up after them, training, researching the best food and treats, finding their perfect toys and entertainment, helping them be good and non-destructive in our homes, and buying them items for their comfort and convenience. But even while all this is going on, when we relax with them and enjoy their company, they bring us into the present moment.

Taking a break with our pet helps balance the thoughts between “doing” and just “being.” The reward to help slow down and enjoy life is one of the pleasures of owning a dog, cat, horse, or any pet. We love our animals and the joy they bring to our lives.  If you’ve ever wondered why you love them so much, it may be because the reward of slowing down and enjoying life brings you simple pleasures. And if you tend to be a person who is constantly thinking of things you need to do or if you like staying productive to feel accomplished, it is not easy and probably does not come naturally to slow down your thoughts to just be in the moment. Our pets help us be in the moment. They help us stop all the busy thoughts and enjoy life a little more.

If you would like help to recognize how to turn off the busy thoughts in your mind, check out this article by Zindel Segal. Pets and their simplicity to just “be” in life is a very beautiful thing to appreciate and enjoy. Our pets relax us by helping our busy thoughts stop so we can be present in the moment and smile.