Sharing what I learned from a great Master of life’s meaning. A dog.
8:15 AM Carmel Beach.
It’s a spectacular sunny day and a tan Labradoodle is digging furiously in the sand.
No, not furiously. Joyously.
Intense. Focused. Tail wagging in a blur.
The energy, excitement, and focus are palpable from 100 feet away.
Amazingly this dog is not digging in one spot but instead making a trench, backing up as it digs.
I begin to wonder if this dog is onto something, smelling something, or is it…
…just doing it to do it.
Which got me to thinking.
Professionally and personally I have focused on achieving goals.
But this Labradoodle makes me wonder how much joy, fun, and fulfillment I have missed along the way by only focusing on goals and tasks?
Is it really true that the journey in and of itself makes it all worthwhile?
That Labradoodle was in rapturous joy just digging in the sand. Did it have a goal in mind? Was there something specific it was seeking?
Does it matter?
That dog was in the moment and loving it, with or without a treasure found.
Our Labradoodle “pivoted”.
A boxer was chasing a red ball thrown by its human companion. The Labradoodle joined in and the boxer embraced a new playmate enhancing the experience.
They stopped chasing the ball (discarded goal) and started chasing each other with tails wagging and tongues dangling (new and better option).
I realized that the fundamental goal of the Labradoodle was to have a joyous existence on the beach that day. To be happy in the moment whatever that moment was.
Talk about mindfulness.
This is a “big picture” dog who would make Eckart Tolle pleased.
Doing something we want to do and believe in can be where the joy lies…period.
Even more so when it aligns with passion and purpose.
This dog made me realize achieving a goal has often been anticlimactic. Sometimes I find myself at the top of my climb already eyeing another ziggurat to conquer.
In those times of success, I was kind of blue, because getting there was the fun part and now it’s over.
How often is there a “there” there?
Eventually, other dogs join in the chase. It’s a movement, a mash-up and our Labradoodle loves it. New friends, a new activity, and the overarching goal (which is to simply be happy) is being fulfilled.
How many of us are capable of this? How many of us are so focused on the tasks but not on the true reason for those things and the pure joy of the journey?
If you narrow down every single thing you do, the ultimate bottom-line purpose behind it is to be happy. Really. Try it. Even a task you hate. If you dig down to the final motivation for doing it, the task is tied to being happy.
Our Labradoodle friend is now staring out to sea.
The remnants of a wave spread towards it, and the dog quickly backs up afraid of the water. As the surge recedes, the dog follows it only to run away from the next wave and the next and the next.
I walk up to the owner and ask if this is a water dog. “First time at the ocean ever and doesn’t even like a bath with the hose,” he says.
But this dog is mesmerized by the waves. Fearful but intrigued. Doubtful but still focused on experiencing the joy of discovery.
With its attention on the horizon, the dog misses the approach of a tiny wave as it spreads over its ankles. It jumps. I mean three feet in the air and runs away. Then stops. Then cautiously returns. It holds its ground as the next wave flows up and over its knees. The dog sniffs and takes a taste. Looks out to sea and…
Now our Labradoodle is enraptured with the new experience and connecting with its Labrador roots. Splashing, swimming, even crashing into the smaller waves.
Our human pursuits can be scary. Often the fear comes from the unknown just like with our Labradoodle. The reluctance may come from thoughts that we’re not deserving, worthy, able or talented/creative/smart enough.
Well, this dog didn’t have any of those issues and did have a touch of the fear of the unknown. It was however intrigued and then enraptured by the new experience and open enough to dive in.
The very same type of mindset people who achieve their goals and live a full life have.
Their keys to success are exactly the same as the Labradoodle’s:
Be in the moment
Be in a mindset to thrive
Be open to new possibilities
Pivot when you need or want to
Connect with others
Overcome your fears – Be brave
Go for it
Seek joy and provide joy
Enjoy the journey.
Dumb animal? I think not.
I walked off the beach with a smile on my face and a bounce in my step.
That Labradoodle taught me something and brought clarity to things I had not fully realized. Things that are important to achieving my current set of goals and enjoying life at the same time. It left me wondering about people and dogs.
Who is the master and who should be training whom?
Dig, run, splash, enjoy the journey,