Regular contact with non-human animals can teach us innumerable lessons about how to better live the wild life. Whether it’s your dog or cat at home, a horse or pig at the farm, or a deer, fox or squirrel you encounter in nature — all these creatures live in the flow of life without even trying. If only human life was so easy! How do they do they do this and what can we learn from watching their behaviour and spending time with them? Here are a few big ones:
Live in the present moment
What animals lack in the human self-consciousness and reasoning they more than make up for in effortless living and spontaneous enjoyment. Pay attention to your dog at home and you’ll quickly see how a problem or upset will completely vanish just minutes later. Animals don’t hold grudges and don’t think about the future or the past. They truly live in the present moment, able to focus and fully take in whatever is happening one minute to the next. Experiences and emotions (to the extent animals have them as humans can recognise) flow through them quickly and naturally, like water down a babbling brook.
To help us humans live in the present, connection with nature itself will go a long way. A benefit to time spend outdoors is that is can often pull us away from constant over-thinking or worry as our senses quickly turn to the natural wonder and refreshment all around us. If you need more than a daily nature walk to forget your past mistakes and futures worries, consider some form of mediation or yoga to help bring you into the present moment.
Rely on your pack
Life is not very fun on your own. Animals know this and humans do too. Watching a pack of dogs play, it’s hard not to smile (and to want a pack like that for yourself, in your human life). Most all animals can only thrive when surrounded by a group of their own, complete with the hierarchies and nuances that come from group living. Elders of the pack are there to teach and guide the young ones. The strong are there to help the weak. This is how most all animals are meant to live, humans included.
If you feel something is missing from your life, it might be the lack of community or deep social bonds. Try these community creation ideas to help build your own resilient human pack. Try volunteering to cohousing to help form a tight community around you.
Play hard, rest often
Ever wondered why animals sleep so much? You don’t see this quite as often in nature as they are often well hidden for protection (and require more time to hunt or gather food), but go to the zoo, or again look at your dog at home, and it seems all they do is sleep? Unlike us humans, animals don’t have a strictly-defined 9-5, and don’t look at the clock to determine what to do when. When the moment is right, animas play like there is no tomorrow! They can be such goofballs and truly enjoy each other when they play. But when play (and dinner time) is over, they are only moments away from sleep.
This is a lesson for us all. Life doesn’t have to be non-stop to be successful. In fact, only a well balanced lifestyle, lots of sleep included, will lead to a happy and prosperous life.
Trust your instincts
Animals aren’t constantly judging and evaluating the way humans do. They are often wise beyond their looks, but that wisdom comes from natural instincts and compassion, more than intellectual reasoning. When in a wild environment, you’ll see animals prick their ears up and pay close attention to their surroundings. If food presents itself, they know what to do right away. If danger approaches, they react without thinking.
As human animals, we don’t trust our own instincts nearly as much as we should. Just because we also poses “higher” brain functioning, doesn’t mean our instincts can’t be just valuable to us as instincts are to animals. If we want to learn from our animal cousins, we can practice trusting our gut feelings, our first impressions, and learning to let our bodies guide us in addition to our brains.
What else can our animal selves teach us? Check out these human wildness resources for ways to learn, grow and deepen your life experience.
Love 100%, all day, every day
Anyone who lives with a dog knows something about unconditional love. All animals are lovers, but let’s focus on dogs again for a second. They say dogs are a “man’s best friend” because they are often exceeding loyal and unconditionally loving. Any dog owner will tell you stories about the greeting their dogs give them when they return home at the end of the day, tails wagging hard, tongues out to give smooches. And they are compassionate too! If you’re having a bad day, it’s likely your dog will rest by your side, wordlessly helping you through a difficult moment.
Humans have much to learn from these actions. Try making it a habit to greet your family and friend with exuberant love each time you see them. Be there for them when they are hurting. Those two actions alone could dramatically change the world as we know it.
Want more animals in your life?
Consider adopting a pet. Check your local humane society or shelter and let the dog/cat/duck/rabbit pick you! Living with a pet can sometimes be a lot of work, but it will surely be full of love and learning too. This is something anyone can do to learn to bring a little more human WILDness into their lives.