Mental Health Healing Man

Why We Should Strive to Be More Like Animals

Being human is an amazing experience, with all its wonders and flaws. Having the capability to perform complex mathematical problems and reason in philosophical abstracts is an amazing gift, and even the things that limit us—such as anxiety over what the future holds—are boons in their own way (plus, hey, opposable thumbs!). However, the intricacies of the human condition can also be our downfall when we become too wrapped up in planning for the future, or too self-conscious to move forward with those plans with confidence. This is where we could stand to take a cue from the rest of the members of the animal kingdom.

Wild animals know how to stay in the present

When was the last time you saw a tiger wringing his hands (or paws, I suppose) about the last time he hunted for food? While a wild predator may well have complex thought processes that are not known to humans, they never show signs of pathological doubt or anxiety. For an animal like the tiger, doubt and concern for the future are not based in a dysfunctional self-image or an anxiety disorder—they come from actual, tangible concerns, like famine or drought making hunting difficult. For a wild animal, the only moment that matters is right now, and for that reason, we should look to them for answers on how to stay present-focused.

Domesticated animals know how to keep their goals manageable

Now, cats and dogs and even hamsters can be trained to perform tricks for rewards, making them not unlike us in that regard. Think about it: we show up to work and perform tasks for money, or perform volunteer work for the good feeling it gives us. However, you don’t see dogs trying to navigate a 10-year life plan, biting their nails over what lies a decade down the road. Nope. As much as a dog can be a smart creature capable of learning to perform many tasks, they tend to stay in today. If the day ends with a full belly, a bowl of fresh water, and a clean and warm place to sleep, it was a good day. We could stand to learn to keep our goals a bit more manageable the way that dogs do—we might have more good days if we did!

Overall, animals know how to focus on today

Whether wild or domesticated, animals know how to keep their focus on today. Granted, we might argue that our lives and problems are more complex than those of the animals, but that doesn’t mean that we don’t all share the common desire to get through life one step at a time, from one sunrise to one sunset, again and again. Perhaps much of the trouble that comes with the “human condition” is in the complexity we bring into our own lives. By simplifying and keeping our goals manageable and taking a cue from the animals, we could very well end up happier in the end.