By Dr. Becker
As 2016 rolls to a close, it’s good a good time to reflect on the blessings our precious animal companions bring to our lives all year long.
5 Everyday Blessings We Receive From Our Pets
Blessing No. 1: Unconditional love
Our pets offer us the very definition of unconditional love. They accept us just as we are, every minute of the day. They love us when we’re away, and when we come home. They love us when we’re mean, mad, sad or impatient. They love us when we’re attentive, and when we ignore them.
A pet’s love is consistent and eternal, and serves as an ever-present reminder that we are needed, valued and worthy.
Blessing No. 2: Friendship
It’s no surprise the title “Man’s best friend” refers to our canine companions. Our dogs (and cats, and hamsters, and birds, and turtles, etc.) are great company. They help us feel less lonely, disconnected and isolated.
We learn to communicate in ways our animal companion understands, and in return, they make great sounding boards when we’re confused or upset or just need a pal to talk to.
Blessing No. 3: Improved mental and physical health
Our pets can positively influence our health. Studies show pet ownership can help lower blood pressure and cholesterol levels, improve cardiovascular health, relieve the depression associated with serious illness and improve survival rates after a heart attack.
Pets also give us something to live for and focus on beyond ourselves. It feels good to be needed, and being needed motivates us to stay well.
Studies show that interacting with pets can be more beneficial than interacting with friends. Human friends can be judgmental, but your four-legged buddy accepts you exactly as you are in every moment of your life together.
Part of the reason we connect so deeply with animals may be their emotional depth. Many animals mourn, cry and demonstrate other emotions. If you share your life with a pet, you know the love he or she feels for you is intense and enduring.
Blessing No. 4: Relief from stress
Many of us live very busy, stressful lives, and while there are lots of good ways to reduce stress, coming home to a pet is certainly one of the best. Playing with your furry or feathered companion is a great way to relax and release all that pet-up anxiety.
Just the simple act of petting a cat or dog can reduce cortisol levels and trigger a release of endorphins.
Blessing No. 5: Living in the moment
Most of us tend to spend a lot of time looking back with regret, or feeling apprehensive about the future. Meanwhile, we miss the here and now. Our pets, by their example, help us to stay present — to live for today. Our animal companions experience each moment as it arrives with enthusiasm and joy, and so can we if we follow their lead.