Why I want to be like a dog in 2016

Dog
This is Ivory. She’s a dog, and I’d like to be more like her. (Ivory is available for adoption from the Lawrence Humane Society in Lawrence, Kan.)

I’ve made about a thousand New Year Resolutions, despite only being in my third decade of life. I have work resolutions, health resolutions, financial resolutions… you get the picture.

It’s exhausting, and frankly, demoralizing. Research in the last decade has indicated that willpower is a limited resource, and as you can imagine, I use mine up by about Jan. 10 of the new year and don’t accomplish ANY of my resolutions.

So this year is different. I’m only making one resolution: to be more like a dog in 2016.

No, this doesn’t mean that I’m going to rifle through the trash for leftovers or drink water out of the toilet. But there are some things dogs just do better, and this old dog could learn their tricks:

Sleep more.

On average, dogs sleep 12-14 hours a day. While this much sleep may not be realistic for me (I can’t really see my boss being comfortable with my taking a snooze between phone calls), I could certainly take a page from Fido in terms of catching more ZZZs.

Pay more attention to nonverbal cues.

With anywhere from 55-93 percent of human communication being coded in body language, posture, facial expressions, and other nonverbal cues, it’s important to pay attention not only to what’s said, but what’s seen. Dogs are already excellent at this and there’s a lot of helpful information that can be gleaned from what people AREN’T saying. This can help not only in my personal life with friends and family, but in my professional one as well.

Be less judgemental.

It’s easy to judge someone by their appearances, but dogs don’t do that. One of the things we love most about themn is that they don’t care if I’ve had a bad hair day, a breakout, or lost a leg. I can work to be more accepting of others as they are — faults and all.

Live in the moment.

Dogs, have absolutely horrendous memories. They forget events two minutes after they happen. That’s not to say they don’t form any memories at all, but those mundane daily events (stored in the episodic memory) that I rehash and relive don’t help me. They simply keep me from enjoying the world that’s right in front of me. Time to be more like a dog — enjoying the present instead of living in the past.

And with that in mind, Happy New Year and… squirrel!