The above cartoon says so much about why we, as humans, struggle to find, and then keep, happiness. We often lose sight of the present by focusing so much on the past and future. Very often, the things we think about are negative in nature, or are sources of anxiety and fear.
In contrast, dogs are completely content in the here and now. They enjoy the moment for exactly what it is. There is no yesterday, and there is no tomorrow. There is only the present. They see and hear what is in front of them, and that is all they need. If you’ve ever watched a dog spend time with his owner, you know that it is impossible for that dog to be mentally anywhere else.
I’m not denying the fact that humans have a plethora of things to care for that other species don’t. There are bills to pay. There are relationships to tend to. There is the planning for the future that every responsible person must do. We certainly have our hands full juggling the ups and downs of everyday life.
With that said, it is possible to push all those things to the side. It is possible to be completely present in the here and during the now. It is not easy, but it can be done. Like most good things in life, being content takes some effort and usually requires some practice.
Walt Whitman eloquently summed up the determined approach we must take when trying to mimic the life approach of our canine friends:
“Happiness, not in another place, but in this place. Not for another hour, but this hour.”