Before my feet even hit the floor some mornings, my brain is like, Whitney, you need to start Shaun T’s Insanity workout today. And eat more vegetables. And get your acne under control. Also, stop watching TV, and read your Bible more. Oh, and try not to nag Asa about leaving his clothes everywhere. All of that today, ok? There are many bad habits I need to break and good ones I need to adopt. But today, instead of biting off more than I can chew, I’m starting small, going for a walk, and taking some tips from my cat, Azreal. Here are some good habits that he lives out perfectly every single day:
- Purr as soon as you wake up. I am not a happy “waker”. Probably the facts that getting to sleep takes me an hour and that anything can wake me up (being touched, light, noise, too much heat, too much cold…) don’t help either. So if my cuddly husband who can sleep through 3 am gunfire outside our window wakes me up, I can be pretty grouchy. Azreal, on the other hand, is the world’s nicest “waker”. When I pet him while he’s sleeping, he may not open his eyes but he will purr, just happy to have someone he loves close by. While I think it is good for me and Asa each to know and respect what irks the other, I also know that life is too short for me to be that selfish with my time and to start the day with angry words I don’t mean. Note to self: “purr” upon waking.
- Be proud of scoring even long-dead mice. Once, Azreal found a mouse that had been dead for months somewhere in the house (gross, I know). I was glad he found it instead of me, but it wasn’t as impressive as if he had hunted and caught it. “Nice try,” I told him. But he didn’t care. He pranced around with it in his mouth like a panther that had just taken down an elephant. Oftentimes, I discount my own little wins, especially if when I tell others it fails to impress them, which leaves me discouraged and unmotivated. Reveling in life’s little victories, no matter what anyone thinks, instead of choosing to see my accomplishments as “not enough”, is important for staying more consistently inspired and joyful.
- Cuddle often. I love cuddling animals, but have trouble being physically affectionate toward people. Asa’s primary love language is cuddliness. You see the predicament. For a while, I couldn’t see why it was so important to him. It even made me mad sometimes; he seemed so needy. Then I started to notice how I felt when Azreal spontaneously crawled onto my lap, wanting me to pet him. I didn’t get mad, but instead thought how nice it was that he wanted to be near me. It then hit me how much more important it must be to Asa if I, someone who isn’t so cuddly, feel that appreciated when a cat sits on my lap.
- Indulge your inner kid (or kitten) with confidence. Sometimes Azreal still chases his tail and bites it once he catches it. He also runs through the house as fast as he can, bouncing off and on furniture as he goes, and loves to play hide and seek. Although I enjoy abandoning myself to my inner child at times, I am sometimes embarrassed to admit this to adult friends. Like how I prefer animated films, or how I still love to capture caterpillars and watch them turn into butterflies.
- Bite people, and then forgive them. Sometimes people say things that hurt or just get on my nerves, and I don’t easily let go of their words. It’s so easy to let them cut deeper by replaying the situation over and over in my head, which doesn’t really make me feel better and definitely doesn’t solve the problem. When Azreal gets mad at me, he bites me, I pet him apologetically, and we are friends again with no hard feelings. I think it would be wise to begin modeling his process, though I might need to come up with an alternative to biting people. Hmmm…
I know that my cat doesn’t sit himself down each morning and plan the best ways to live intentionally for the day, but I do think God teaches us in all kinds of ways, including through the behavior of our pets. For that, I am grateful.
Also, mom and dad, I promise I’m spending time with humans and not letting the crazy cat lady in me take over. I still have human role models. Lots of them. But, every now and then, the furry ones that can’t quite talk are the ones I learn from. This is what happens when I have breakfast with Azreal. 🙂
Do your pets ever model good habits or inspire you to be a better person? I would love to hear about it!