A New da Vinci Code

I never had a dog growing up. In fact, for years I didn’t really understand what all the fuss was about. Pets seemed messy, expensive and illogical. And then, without planning or consideration, I came across a puppy that was irresistible. So in mid-July, a new member was added to the family — da Vinci.

Today, I’m amazed at how much wisdom can come from such a small creature. As this little pup brings joy, he’s also been an unexpected teacher of some important life lessons:

1) Shake it Off — After a setback (such as being alone for the last three hours or being jolted from a restful sleep), dogs give a big, full-body shake and then they’re done. They let go of the past and get on with living instead of dwelling on previous injustices.

2) Treat Everyone Equally — There’s no judgment when it comes to new people. da Vinci doesn’t care about your career path, circle of influence or fashion choices. He treats everyone with the same openness and extends the benefit of doubt.

3) Enjoy the Small Stuff — The simple joy of chasing around a blowing leaf or feeling the wind while running through the backyard is what this little guy lives for. Since his expectations are small, he’s never disappointed. He doesn’t long for what he’s missing; he savors what he has.

4) Live in the Moment — Rather than wallowing in regret from the past or anxiety for the future, da Vinci lives firmly in the here and now. He’s grounded in the present and can enjoy the high definition of every moment.

5) Explore — This curious creature loves to discover new things. With his nose to the ground, he’s constantly seeking out new smells, tastes and sounds. He realizes that life is an adventure, and new opportunities only emerge when they’re hunted down. He has the courage to lose sight of the house to uncover new fascination.

Da Vinci has also helped me further develop my own compassion. I realize it’s not the end of the world when he pees on the rug, and that forgiveness is much more productive than sharp criticism. Empathy trumps abrasiveness. Patience beats anger.

These principles are universal, and can help even the most stubborn human-folk live more fulfilling lives. It’s easy to get caught up in the challenges of the day, but sometimes reconnecting to the fundamentals can be liberating.

Give this back-to-basics da Vinci code a try in your company, career, and community. You’ll find, as I did, a renewed sense of peace and purpose. And as a byproduct, you’ll be happier than a dog with a new bone.