What Can Our Animals Teach Us About Life?

By Sage Thee

As I write this, my cat Jinx attacks my laptop with more vigor and determination than I think I have ever shown to anything in my entire life. I should be more like that, I say to myself as I pick her up and gently place her on her bed with a shoelace (her favorite toy), so she does not tear yet another letter from my keyboard. Which gets me thinking, what can our animals teach us about life and being human?

Animals know how to be happy in the purest, least-complicated way imaginable. What would it be like to be that carefree? As humans, especially as adult humans, we have a never-ending list of responsibilities, and just as many things to worry about. These things can get in the way of feeling happiness at all; especially the uncomplicated things. In a world that is increasingly complicated, it’s hard to find time for things like that. While we may never be able to reach our pets’ levels of carefree-nirvana, we can, at the very least, be inspired by it.

Cats and dogs wrote the book on little joys: from a stray shoelace to greeting you at the door, from napping in a spot of sun to gnawing on a bone. Some of the smallest things bring our pets the greatest happiness. It is so easy to get caught up in the chaos of life that we miss out on the little things, but those are often some of the things that bring the most joy and truly make life worth living. Now, I am not saying to go out and bark at your fence until you reach True Nirvana or anything like that. But I urge you to take inspiration in the unbridled joy a dog finds from something so inconsequential as barking at strangers beyond the fence.

I think we could all learn a thing or two from our pets about happiness. I have never seen a creature so content as my cat playing with a shoelace I took from an old tennis shoe. Our society is built around the monetization and commodification of work and labor. Every day we work for something more, something better. It is what we have been taught to do and how we have been taught to think, and there are many benefits to this way of living! But in working for tomorrow, we give up living for today, and we can lose so many important little moments. But with animals, they do not need (or want) anything extravagant to be happy, and I wish I were more like that; I really do. To get all my life’s fulfillment from a cardboard box or a shoelace or a bone, I think that would be a beautiful existence indeed.

Watching the sunset with those I love means more to me now than anything else in the world. If there is one thing we have all learned from this past year, it is that spending time with those we love is absolutely crucial. That beautiful sunset gives me more fulfillment than any achievement or paycheck ever could, something that has been no small feat to cultivate within myself. What I am trying to say, dear reader, is that it takes a lot of practice to be happy. I do not think I have fully cracked the code yet, as it were—but with a big fat cat purring in my life, I can tell I am close to figuring it out.