When my alarm starts blaring at 5 a.m., my cat just stretches, readjusts and settles back into place. But if I hit snooze, the dog will press her wet nose in my face and start wagging until I get up. Most of the time I flail and rollover before finally getting out of bed to scratch her head.
Admittedly, the dog wakes me up because she loves me. There are worse things in the world, but even a loving wake-up call doesn’t put me in the right mindset to start my week off on the right foot. In fact, a wet nose to the face normally starts me down a wrathful path.
My pets have it made. They don’t go to work, they get fed on a schedule — OK, plus random treats — and they can sleep and play all day. It’s no wonder they’re in such a good mood.
But when I started lacing up my sneakers for a morning walk with my boxer dancing spastically around me, I started to wonder if there wasn’t some way I could learn something from her. Could I start my morning with that much joy?
Here is what my pets have been trying to show me from their first day in the house, and how I’m using it to change my life.
Advice from the Cat
1) Only on My Terms. There are some things you can only do to a cat when they want you to. Have you ever tried to rub a cat’s belly? It’s a mixed bag. They want to share love, but they end up bunny kicking your hand to death. What the best cats do is say no from the get go.
Remember how to say no, even though it’s 8 a.m. on a Monday. Yes, you should smile and be polite, but just because it’s Monday doesn’t mean you aren’t a busy person.
Don’t think social time is a requirement in the office, either. Your work comes first. If you have to, grab a cup of coffee and just close your door for the first few hours of the day until you’ve finished wading through emails and phone calls.
2) Patience Wins the Prize. My first cat, who is now the granddame of all my family’s cats, is old, a bit tubby and mostly blind. But she’s still the best mouser in the house. I once saw her sit patiently in front of the oven for three days for no reason any of us could see. Hey, we weren’t entirely sure she could see either — mostly blind, remember?
This focus translates well to any day, not just Monday. Don’t worry about external forces, such as what happened last Friday on your way out of the office or some social event from Saturday. Stay in the moment with your eye on the prize. Cats are masters of compartmentalizing.
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3) There’s Always Time for Yoga. Cats are masters of relaxation and meditation. They sleep for an average of eighteen hours a day, and yet every time I see mine she’s mid-stretch. Although we don’t have the time to sleep for so long, we can learn a lot from practicing a little office yoga.
When you work in an office or any environment that involves long periods of sitting, you’re seriously messing up your back. Plus, a sedentary day can alter your mood. Keep your Mondays strong by taking periodic — but short — yoga breaks.
4) Visualize Success. If a cat knows one truth in the world, it’s that the universe revolves around them and their awesomeness. While extreme levels of kitty egoism could be damaging, visualizing and reminding yourself you are an intelligent and successful person will help keep you focused on your work.
Don’t give in when stress piles on. You’re amazing. Not as perfect as your cat thinks he/she is, of course, but pretty darn close!
Advice from the Dog
1) Every Day is Monday. Wait, don’t cringe. For dogs, every morning is the best day. They hear the alarm chirp, leap to their feet and charge into the day with a toothy smile. The day belongs to them before it even starts. So how can you be more like your dog? Own each day.
Acceptance goes a long way toward relieving stress, be it Monday morning dread of work or just waking up on the wrong side of the bed. You can’t stop Monday from happening, so get out of bed and accept that today isn’t Monday, it’s your day.
2) Say Hello and Smile. If there’s one thing my dog will never do it’s keep to herself. Where there’s any sort of action, she’s in the middle of it. New person walking by the yard? She says hello. Mailman stopping by? Yes, she says hello. Spread that smile.
When you’re in a foul mood, a stranger telling you to smile can further wreck your day — trust me, I’ve been there. But there’s actually science behind the concept that smiling could make you happier. So start each day with a smile, even if you don’t feel like it.
3) Let It Go. Remember when your co-worker got a raise based on work you helped him out with? It’s hard not to feel jealous when your coworkers are getting more credit than you, but sometimes it’s even harder to move on.
Dogs have no problems with this. They take a hit and keep on loving. Why? Because they’re focused on the good things. Now, I’m not telling you to forget all about an inappropriate coworker, but take this bit of advice from the dog. If it isn’t directly hurting you, just let it go. Grudges will only ruin you, not the person who did you wrong. Leave it at the door and focus on the positives on the horizon.
4) Early Morning Exercise. Every time you reach for the leash your four-legged buddy perks up, right? Grab a pair of exercise shoes and join them for some morning activity. Dogs are always on the go, and I’m convinced they live in a world of an eternal runner’s high. Get those endorphins pumping first thing in the morning and you’ll be wagging by the time you start work for the day.
5) There’s Always Time. If there’s one thing the day always has to have to start right, it’s breakfast. As soon as the kibble hits the bowl you’ll hear your smallish heard of horses barreling across the living room. Where do they get that energy?
Well, to start with, they eat their breakfast every day, and you should too. It’s too easy to panic and run out of the house without even banana or a granola bar. Repeat after me: You cannot live on coffee. Put the coffee down, or at least grab some fruit with your other hand.
Finally, remember there is a tomorrow, and its name is Tuesday — even if it still feels like a Monday to your pets. Instead of hiding from that loving wet nose and snoozing cat in the morning, slide on those exercise shoes and chase the horizon.
Sarah Landrum is a blogger and freelance writer sharing positivity through her writing. She also shares advice about finding career happiness and success on her blog, Punched Clocks. Subscribe to her newsletter to get your fill of career positivity and encouragement, and be sure to follow her on Twitter and FB.
Image courtesy of Matthew Wiebe.