Happy as a dog.

Forget clams, I want to be as happy as my dog.

I’ve always marveled at the way dogs develop and act on instincts, regardless of other environmental factors. Mine wear Halloween costumes and eat out of porcelain bowls, but  still manage to exhibit all kinds of traditional doggie instincts.

Somehow this is reassuring, that no matter how badly I’ve screwed up their training, dogs will be dogs.

It makes me wonder why humans, despite landing at the top of the evolutionary chain, can struggle so fiercely with following our own instincts. I’m not talking about biological reactions, but our own personal ones. What we should do in different situations, and what’s right or wrong for us. Often, these decisions are simple when viewed retrospectively, but in the moment they can be paralyzing.

Our world is over-complicated, and we’ve become experts at over-complicating how we operate.

I’ve always been an over-thinker. About everything. A lot of people say that about themselves, but I think I’m among the extra crazy percentile. I think things through, then re-think them, continue to overthink them, and then obsess about the potential consequences.

And that’s the ironic part, I’m never afraid to make a quick decision, but when it comes to bigger choices, the thought of doing something that ultimately could cause regret is scary. I hate what-ifs and I hate the fear of regret.

A few years ago, I was making myself nuts weighing an important decision, when a good friend said something that threw me for a loop:

“You’re a smart girl and you make good choices. What’s the last decision you made that you regret?”

And finally, my mind stood still.

Don’t get me wrong; I’ve made plenty of choices in life that I’d like to go back and rework, handle with greater finesse, or maybe just tone-down a bit (hello, college). But I couldn’t think of a single path I’d chosen that I would completely reverse. Not one.

Not all of our choices lead us to good places, at least not right away, but I think that we have to allow ourselves to be ourselves, in order to really become who we’re supposed to be. Dogs do what feels right without thinking, what they’re supposed to do, and we could learn a lot from them.

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