If Hugging A Dog Will Help, Go Hug A Dog

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Walking with my pups in front of a hospital about 6:30 one morning, a woman I’d said hello to a few times on previous walks as she headed into work yelled from a few yards off, “Excuse me, I hate to be a bother, but can I snuggle your dogs a little?”

“Sure, they’d love that, but their wet from the melting snow and they’ll make a mess of your scrubs.”

“That’s fine. I’m in a foul mood and need to get my head in a better place. I have to change before surgery anyway.” With that, she smiled and patted her chest–inviting GeeGee and Zwa to jump up for some nuzzling, head rubbing, ear scratching, and comforting. They jostled, competing for her attention for a moment. Then they stilled. Eyes closed, she buried her face in their thick, warm husky necks. A minute passed. A smile bloomed on her face as tension visibly melted from her shoulders. “OK, gotta get to work. Thank you so much for that! I’ll be able to focus now.”

The dogs went back on all fours, ready to continue our walk. I saw she was a paw-printed mess, “Sorry about your…”

“No need to be sorry! I really needed that. They turned my day around.” And she was off in a brisk stride to the hospital entrance.

 

Whether you’re headed into surgery, managing a classroom of small children all day, or spending the evening with your toddler after a long day at work your mood matters. Our mood impacts our behavior and decision making.  And we’re not as good at hiding our fear, or anger, or frustration, or exhaustion as we think we are. Not even close. So our mood impacts those around us too. Our mood radiates out to those around us and impacts our interactions.

Knowing what will turn your mood around–and then putting in the effort to make that happen–is a great skill to develop. The woman in the above story knew a few minutes of puppy snuggles was one thing that would get her head right for work and when she saw us passing by she acted.

For me, a few quiet minutes with my wife, some yoga, a brisk walk with GeeGee and Zwa, or time in my workshop tend to do the trick when my mood grows sour or cloudy.

Here’s a challenge:

  1. Make a list of four or five activities that help turn your sour and cloudy moods around.
  2. Next time your mood is sour or cloudy, employ one of those activities.

It’ll take some practice, but chances are this simple practice will prove helpful as you navigate the world. For example, spending 10 minutes listening to your favorite music on the drive home from work is an investment in the quality of your interactions with others for the rest of the evening.

I’d love to see what clears up your cloudy moods in the comments section.

Content Creator and Curator at

Jeff is an early learning speaker, toymaker, podcaster, content creator, author, and founder of Playvolution HQ who is really bad at getting his picture taken.

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