WASHINGTON, January 24, 2014 – In the above video, a black lab with a ball in his mouth plays with a young doe, the dog trying to get the fawn to go after the ball. The deer looked perplexed, but still wanted to play with the dog. So the small deer pranced around him and they frolicked. The animals had so much fun.
I watched this video and thought that all of us want to feel that way. We want to be playful and happy, and just be together. I loved witnessing the innocence of these two very different, yet similar, animals. It reminded me of something deep-rooted and sacred, something we all carry within, a forever-child that just wants to play and be happy together.
In this video, it is apparent that a basic human longing for an effortless yet deep connection with another is intrinsic to animals too; it’s a feeling that comes from a place very deep within our souls.
Yet if this want is what all humans want, why do so many people in our world feel disconnected from the ones they care about most? Often, people go to work, many feel disconnected from their colleagues. They return home to family members feeling equally lonely. Many of my patients tell me that when they do try to connect, they end up in a clash. They fight and complain. Then they complain again – and again.
Perhaps you’ve felt this too. Difficult relationships exist all around us. How many times do you complain to a friend about your own relationship? How often do you listen to someone else complain about theirs?
Most people choose to talk about what isn’t working. It’s easier for most because it’s what we are thinking about. We process our problems and our difficulties by talking to other people. I know I used to do this. When I was a television reporter I always finished my day by bitching to someone. Whether it was about a certain person, a certain situation or even the job itself – I was in the habit of complaining. I complained for so long, so chronically that you might call it an addiction. It was not until I went cold turkey and left the industry that I came to realize I had been stuck in a rotten pattern.
After leaving the hectic life of TV news journalism, I no longer had that job, and little to complain about. I wasn’t surrounded by colleagues and problems inherent to what had otherwise been a fulfilling career. Sure, like anyone else, I faced other difficulties in life, but the constant arguing, talking, bitching and complaining about industry minutia, about gossip and memos and all things unimportant had suddenly ceased. For the first time, my head felt quiet. I actually felt at peace.
I grew aware of how my complaints had trapped me in a vicious cycle. The more I bitched about something, the longer I stayed unhappy. I later understood that when people complain, the brain stays locked in thoughts about the discomfort. It’s like thinking about an itch and then feeling more itchy. Sometimes going cold turkey – stopping the cycle of complaint after complaint – is the best way to halt the urge to throw up our misery.
One of my psychology mentors used to say, “Think new thoughts to get a new life.” I used to wonder what he meant by that. Now I know.
Reconsider the dog and the doe. Maybe they can teach us a lesson, so that perhaps we can feel the joy they surely do. In this video, neither animal cares to complain about what had happened once or what may happen next. When confronted with a confusing situation, when the dog wanted to play a game the deer didn’t know, that doe did what came natural and simply projected happiness. Who knows how others will react when we dance instead of holding back?
Let today be the day that you embrace a lifestyle of positivity. That’s how it starts: with one bright, new thought. Give yourself the space and freedom to embrace happiness, to be that gleeful fawn. Find your joy. Express your happiness. Think new thoughts. Get a happy new life.