How my dog helped me to create a new normal

How many times lately have you heard someone say 'when we get back to normal'? Quite a few I’d guess. The thing is, will Covid-19 ever allow us to experience again what we considered to be 'normal’ before the pandemic struck? I’m hoping so but realistically I suspect what we used to consider to be ‘normal’ will be confined to history because, if it isn’t already, the post Covid world will almost certainly be a very different place. That got me to thinking if the 'old normal’ is likely to be something that future generations read about in history books, then what can I do to create my ’new normal’ for the here and now?

Stating the obvious I know but 2020 has proved to be challenging for so many people around the globe. It seems to me that so much negative energy has been expended on trying to find someone to blame. Believe me I’ve been there looking for a scapegoat. Coronavirus has meant I’ve been practically house-bound for 9-months and I’ve been made redundant. Surely somebody should be held accountable for what’s happened to me? But hang on a minute, isn’t this a narrow minded view? It’s a global pandemic after all and instead of looking for a fall-guy, should I not have spent more time searching for my ’new normal’? How did I reach this conclusion? Well I decided to look at the world though the eyes of someone who’s life had seemingly not been changed too much by the effects of Coronavirus restrictions or lockdowns and that unlikely someone bizarrely was…my dog!

In a dog’s world most things are simply based. When will I next get fed, when will I go out for my next walk and who will give me some fuss next? But there is more to it than this. My dog always treats me in the same way regardless of how bad a day I might have had or how low I might be feeling. He’s always pleased to see me no matter what - as his constantly wagging tail testifies! Creating a ’new normal’ based on my dog’s apparent view of life seemed to me to be a good thing to try and do. Time to adopt a canine approach!

Now I know a dog’s outlook on life might be simplistic but I thought why shouldn’t this work for me? He doesn’t spend time worrying about things he can’t change because that is just wasted energy. With this thought process in mind, I now try to focus more on those things I can possibly have an influence on. So I took a lot of my negative thoughts that had built up during the last few months and tried to turn them into positive vibes. How did I achieve this? By doing little things like...

Talking on the phone more to family and friends. It’s almost as if I rediscovered that a smartphone can actually be used to make calls.

Catching up with people I haven’t been in touch with for a while.

Writing letters or cards to friends instead of texting, emailing or messaging via social media. A hand written letter or card is so much more personal.

Letting my friends know that I am here for them should they need anything. A friend is one of the nicest things you can have and one of the best things you can be.

Tuning in less to news programmes which only seem to report doom and gloom laden stories. My dog gets by without hearing about the latest views of politicians or other so called experts!

Turning the TV off and listening to the radio more - thank goodness for Crew Radio!

Listening to music that I haven’t played for a number of years, some from my teenage years which, before you ask, is a very long time ago!

Reading books I’ve had for ages but for whatever reason I hadn’t got around to taking off the shelves.

Going out for more walks - with my dog of course but not to such an extent that I wear him out!

Listening to and enjoying being out in nature with a greater appreciation of the beautiful world I’m privileged to live in but had perhaps previously taken for granted.

Learning something new - I’ve started a foreign language course to see if I can remember some of what I learnt at school many years ago!

And importantly recognising that at times it’s also ok to want to be alone, to take a day off or just do nothing.

I could go on…and all because I began to see the world through the eyes of my dog.

Yes I know there is much more I can still do but I have made a start in creating a positive ‘new normal’ that will hopefully just become my ‘normal’ even if the world is able to go back to how things were before the coronavirus crisis.

It might not seem like it right now but 2021 will be full of opportunities. Time to grasp the moment and create that ’new normal’. We can’t change the past. Live for the present and help make a better future for everyone. Most of all be kind to one another.

With special thanks to my dog - truly man’s best friend.

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