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A Dog’s Life

March 26, 2011

Wag More, Bark Less ~ it’s a simple, bumper sticker philosophy.  So why is it so difficult to follow?  Whether misery loves company or bad news travels fast, we relay the downers, the thing that got on my last nerve today, outrageous stupidity raining on the charcoal.  X happened to you?  Well, I had a Y you wouldn’t believe. What does that accomplish but to fuel the one-upmanship until we’re past our hip-waders in toxic sludge.  Lovely.  I’ve always snickered at the old expression, “If you don’t have anything nice to say… come sit by me.”  But honestly, it’s my cousin who never has an ugly thing to say, always finds the best in any circumstance, and just lives on an up beat whom I would rather be like.

Imagine it:  grab ‘hold of what makes you happy and jettison the rest.  Before you open your mouth, consider what response it’s going to get.  A smile or more frustration?  Better start slow ~ set a period of time (one day… one hour?) to not share the bad yet pointless news.  How many times did you have to just shut it?  Could you find something uplifting to say instead?  Or maybe listen more.  How did you feel at the end?  People with letters after their names and grants for studying such things say that those dark emotions ~anger, peevishness, frustration~ are hard on the health.  And every time you share those stories, you’re offering high blood pressure, whatever it is cortisol does, and ulcers to your listener.  But laughter, cheerfulness, smiles?  Those same folks say these are good for the well-being.

I buy it, but it’s hard!  If I don’t make sure everybody knows just how much I disapprove, they might think I’m okay with it all.  And I don’t understand why that’s important to me. It’s partly about defending truth and partly about realigning misplaced admiration, but it must be partly about this habit of sharing the ugliness.  It is a habit and habits can be broken, replaced.  If I can get past needing people to understand that what they expect isn’t true and that the truth is a pain in the neck. . . then I will be able to wag more and bark less.

PS: I’m spending time with friends and their dog, so we’re wagging and barking more than purring and caterwauling right now.

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