You’ve all heard that expression, ‘there is no psychiatrist better than a puppy’ or something? Well, this is sometimes true. I’m not talking about serious mental illnesses of course. I’m just thinking of garden-variety boredom or frustration with life. Here are my reasons why a dog is better than a shrink for these kind of issues:
1. End the cycle of navel-gazing.
Reality TV shows, ‘memoirs’ of people who’ve done diddly-squat in their lives, sarcastic teenagers in Gossip Girl. Everyone thinks their life is the most important thing since sliced bread. Yes, this includes bloggers. Enough already!!! A dog snaps you out of this quick-smart. When he needs to be fed, he needs to be fed. When you want to sleep in and ponder your life, he nudges you to remind you of his morning walk. What does this have to with shrinks? Well, altruism and caring for something other than yourself have been shown to be essential to mental health.
2. Save your mind and your hips
Lying down on your therapist’s couch for an hour and talking about life puts pennies in your therapist’s pocket and inches on your hips. Walking your dog gets you out in the fresh air. This has countless benefits which have been shown to help with mental health: exposure to vitamin D, a sense of community and belonging with other dog-walkers and the benefits of exercise itself.
3. Dogs have figured out the meaning of life, so that you don’t have to.
A lot of people see psychiatrists for existential issues. What is the meaning of my life? Who am I? What should I be?
Watch a dog closely and you’ll see they’ve figured it out.
Meaning of life = love, fun, play, and food. Who am I? = I am what I am right at this moment, a dog. What should I be? = No need to worry about that, ’cause it hasn’t happened yet.
All a dog needs to be happy is shelter, food and loving companionship. Most of us have all three, but we still want more. Charlie says hi.