Have you ever wondered why we love dogs so much? Not only are they loyal and cuddly, but they also regularly teach us to live in the moment.

My Great Dane, Petunia, passed away several years ago. In addition to embodying unconditional love, she reminded me to stay in the moment.

I remember one day my husband Byron and I went out for a walk with our Great Dane. He crossed the street to the park with Petunia and walked towards the dispenser to grab a doggie waste bag. I watched them as I continued walking up the hill, knowing they would join me in a few yards.

Petunia happily sniffed the grass, patiently waited for Byron to grab a bag from the dispenser, and wagged her long tail as she walked by his side.

After their two-minute journey to get a bag, they crossed the street to rejoin me on the walk.

When Petunia saw me, she stopped, looked at Byron, then at me, then pranced up and down with great joy as if to say, “Look, Dad, it’s Mom. It’s Mom! We found her! There she is! Oh my goodness! This is the best day ever! I can’t believe it. Look, Dad! Look! It’s her! It’s really her! We found her!”

She kissed my hand, and then with joyful determination, walked up the hill between us. A few minutes later, she stopped at a spot of grass that had the best smell ever only to be distracted by the need to gleefully greet a person walking by us.

Petunia wasn’t weighed down by heavy thoughts of, “Does this collar make me look fat?” or “I know she is petting me, but does she truly mean it?”

No. She lived life as most dogs do. In the moment.

Why do we want to live a dog’s life?

In the moment is where happiness hangs out.

To hang with happiness and stay in the present, use these three easy steps. 

First: Acknowledge

I name what’s filling up my mind and taking me away from the present.

Is there something bugging me? If the answer is yes, then I name what it is that is bugging me.

Take, for example, this thought that often plagues my mind, “I’m overweight.”

Naming the thought that is taking me away from the present moment helps reduce it’s power.

So, find those thoughts that take you away from the present moment where happiness lies like a dog on a rug in the sunshine.

Second: Take Action

I come up with an actionable solution. This action must be reasonable, of course. For instance I can’t tell myself, “OK, I’ll run 10 miles a day and skip lunch and dinner until I drop the weight.” That’s not a reasonable solution, so I need to use common sense.

What can I do to lose the weight? I’ll sign up for an exercise program that will keep me accountable and help me lose weight.

As long as you can be honest with yourself,  the first step is pretty easy. The second one is also fairly easy, but might be a tad harder because you have to come up with a solution to that thought that is keeping you away from the moment.

Think back on a dog’s life. The dog is thirsty, so she thinks, “I’m thirsty.” Then, she creates an action by walking to her water dish and drinking. Then, she takes the third step in the process.

Now, the third one is where many who aren’t dogs, get tripped up.

Third: Release

I let it go.

In the first step, I named what was pulling me away from the present moment, During the second, I took action, and I signed up for the exercise program. Now that I know when I will be working out, I need to let it go.

The third step is undoubtedly the most difficult.

Letting go.

In my 50+ years of life, I’ve learned that it’s OK to let go.

In fact, it’s healthy to let go!

Give it a try and see how it clears your mind so you can focus on the here and now.

The dog who becomes thirsty, walks to her dish, drinks, and doesn’t spend the rest of the afternoon wondering if she drank the right amount of water, or if she should have maybe ordered a cappuccino, and maybe next time she will order a cappuccino and sprinkle cinnamon on top of it. Yes, cinnamon would be nice. Although, why not just get a Mocha Latte with a side of Pellegrino? Sparkling water is so lovely this time of day…

No. A dog gets thirsty, thinks, “I am thirsty,” walks to her water, drinks, and then lets it go! Done.

When you live in the present moment, the beauty of life becomes more apparent, and your focus sharpens. 

Living in the moment helps you to feel happy like a dog walking with her family, and let’s face it, you were born to be happy!