6 Amazing Life Lessons From A Very Unusual Teacher

6 Amazing Life Lessons From A Very Unusual Teacher

Unlike Scooby-Doo, my dog makes sense when she talks to me. Holly is a five-year-old white lab, and like Scooby, she loves treats and will never pass up a tummy rub. Like Mr. Miyagi from the Karate Kid movies, she imparts wisdom in the most unlikely ways. The knowledge she bestows upon me helps as I travel toward a more full and fulfilling life.

Tests and trials appear like bugs on the windshield randomly spraying across my path to contentment.  To illuminate my way I frequently reach for self-help books devouring their data and dipping into daydreams about my possible paths. They provide fleeting moments of clarity revealing my path until clouds of self-doubt slip in dimming the way.  However, reclining in my yard one afternoon watching my hound soak up the sun, I experienced a flash of awareness; my dog is a repository of in-depth knowledge on how to live life to the fullest. The lessons that Holly had to share were clearly visible, but I had not relaxed enough to receive her teachings.  In the words of Lao-tzu: “He who knows does not speak. He who speaks does not know”. 

Here are a few of the most important lessons I have learned during our time together.

6 Amazing Life Lessons From A Very Unusual Teacher

1. Focus on the simple joys

labrador dog

Concentrate on the simple joys that are all around us. For Holly, Joy is a tummy rub or a nap on the couch. For us, it may be a walk outdoors, a pleasant greeting from a friend, a child’s laugh or a job well done.  There are numerous opportunities to rejoice if you just look.

2. Perseverance is the harbinger of happiness


Change requires patience and persistence; you cannot expect situations to change instantly you must work for it. Holly has been known to wait hours for a treat to come her way; she does not search them out rooting through cupboards.  Instead, she patiently perseveres waiting for her reward. In modern times we run from one thing to the next, we are addicts of instant gratification. Real rewards take time and effort; meeting with numerous companies to find our perfect fit is hard but immensely gratifying.

3. Be observant

labrador dog

Be observant of the world around you; don’t speed by the rest of society. Often it appears Holly is asleep she is resting listening for changes around her, like a hand on the door signaling someone is home. If we pay attention in the workplace to those around us, often we notice subtle hints. Opportunities for promotion, co-workers struggling, new ideas for tackling problems, look around you will be surprised at what you see.

4. Have an Open Mind

dog quote

Have an Open Mind when meeting people don’t prejudge. As I walk Holly she wags her tail excited to meet others; she does not preclude them, she waits until she meets them to pass judgments. Often we give into preconceived notions about others we judge how they dress, what we have heard about them, the color of their skin before we make an effort to meet them.  When Pee Wee Reese in 1947 decided to not listen to bigotry and befriended a new ball player he helped change the world, that player was Jackie Robinson.

 5. Be at peace with yourself

labrador dog

Be at peace with yourself and your surroundings let the spirit flow. Holly adapts to whatever situation arises and wags her tail. Numerous times I have been in a meeting at work or on the end of a rope while climbing but not fully present; my mind is occupied thinking about issues that have not arisen. I come back to the present take a deep breath and refocus on where I am while enjoying the moment.  Look around and find satisfaction regardless of the situation you are in there is always a ray of sunshine peeking through the clouds.

6. Relax


Rest whenever the opportunity arises, allow yourself to refresh. Holly can lay down anywhere, I mean anywhere, and get comfy regardless of the situation. She allows herself the opportunity to recharge her mind and body and so should you. Take a few minutes and go outside, even at work, let your soul to renew. If you are not able to escape outside, then log out for five minutes, allow your mind and body to decompress.

Like the Karate Kid, I do not know if I will ever finish my training, but I will keep watching my sensei, Holly. She is gentle in her training and always glad to impart wisdom, for the price of a few treats. Hopefully, her tips will help everyone; I know they have helped me.

By Hudson Lindenberger
Photo by Margarita Kareva
Photos of Holly by  Hudson Lindenberger

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