Monday, October 13, 2014

What’s The Difference Between A Feeling And An Emotion….Just A Story

One thing I struggle with is impulsivity.  I’m not always good about restraint and assessing all options before leaping.   It has brought me some great unexpected benefits and some painful moments.  This weekend my son and I received information regarding a dog that was at risk of euthanasia.  We’re both animal lovers and without any real planning we went and picked up this un-adoptable, very scared dog.  I’m not sure if this is one of those “great idea” moments or “what was I thinking” moments.  What I do know is this pup is terribly scared of people (not loud noises, other dogs, storms, etc.).   He’s doing better now but he spent the first 48 hours cowering in a corner scared to death.

I was reading an article the other day that discussed that the only difference between a feeling and an emotion was a story.  For example, if someone cuts us off on the highway, we’re angry (feeling) but later that day we’ve completely forgotten about it and it holds no real meaning.  A friend betrays our trust and causes us great pain and we may still be angry about it five years later (emotion).  It’s an interesting concept.  Makes me wonder what story my foster pup has.  He’s not just experiencing a feeling, he’s experiencing an emotion – somewhere on his journey he experienced a very scary story.

So, what do you do with a pup that is so afraid of human contact he cowers in a corner?  You give him a new story.  You show him every day how people can be a source of love and compassion.  You speak in soft, re-assuring tones.  You’re patient when he runs from you for no reason.  You don’t take his rejection personal because you understand, he’s got a story.  It’s our job as dog foster parents to help him replace his old scary story with one that will benefit him, not keep him paralyzed in fear.  We all have stories but if we have one that is taking away our options, affecting our future, and providing a negative emotion (fear, anger, etc.) we need to replace that story.  As for the pup, I’ll let you know how it goes but I’m hoping he’s able to create a story that allows him to bond with a loving, forever family.

Tuesday, October 7, 2014

Hunger Is The Best Sauce

With the fall season upon us, my son and I usually do some camping.  Recently I was having a discussion with a friend about how food always tastes better when you’re camping.  Even simple food that I routinely eat at home, like instant oatmeal.  Somehow it tastes different when eating it in the car on route to the office versus on a cool morning outside my tent.  My friend said “hunger is the best sauce”.  It was a phrase I hadn't heard but it fit perfectly.  You appreciate something the more you’re aware of how much you need it.  On my recent hiking trip in Peru, I had to go four days camping with no water.  When I got back to the hotel, I took a long, hot shower and appreciated every minute of it.  (Anyone within smelling distance of me probably appreciated it even more).  Usually a daily shower is just routine, something that I hardly notice.

I think life is that way, right?  It’s like the country song, “Live like you’re dying”.  If we take the time to really notice and appreciate what is around us, we have a new sense of gratitude.  There is a lot of research about how having a sense of appreciation or gratitude can make us happier.  I know for myself, I sometimes get so wrapped up to the to-do list of the day that I lose all sense of appreciation of what I have in that instant.  There are small opportunities every day to remind me to be grateful for the moment.  The feel of a breeze on a hot day, the taste of the perfect cup of coffee, the smile of a child, a hug from a friend.  I’m going to try to make a conscious effort to slow down enough to catch those opportunities for contentment.  I think I might also make dinner time later at my house – maybe if “hunger is the best sauce” my little guy will complain less about what I've prepared if he’s a wee bit more hungry J.