What Cats Can Teach Us About Life
What is the best way to live your life? Should you try your best to make as much money as you can, buy a big house, or find some great cause and save the world? According to one writer, the answer is simple, “Be more like a cat.”
What Does A Cat Do?
In his recent book, Feline Philosophy: Cats and the Meaning of Life, John Gray explores the idea of imitating cats. Of course, he doesn’t mean literally. Chasing the occasional mouse and lying around all day certainly sounds like fun, but the heart of his idea is that cats are fundamentally happy creatures. We don’t know exactly how they see the world or what their exact thoughts are (maybe, “meow meow food meow meow”), but they have a particular and deliberate way of acting.
Oppositely, humans are naturally anxious animals. When they aren’t worried about their jobs, their families, or their planet, they manage to make themselves worried with cars, grocery lists, housing markets—all things difficult and disastrous! Moreover, countless companies seem to promise that you can maximize happiness, as if it were a product on a stock exchange. In today’s world, being happy sounds complicated.
It doesn’t have to be. The truth is, cats have survived just as long as us and they seem to have none of our worries. There are obvious differences between us, yes, but cats generally seem to do a much better job of using and balancing their emotions.
A Zen Feline
Cats have a very buddhist approach: calmness and acceptance. You don’t need to trouble yourself with the meaning of things. Your ambitions don’t define you. Worries are just that: worries, and you don’t need to waste your time with them.
Cats are forever in the moment. While a simple jingle of your keys might grab their attention for a second, they won’t spend the next five minutes worrying about where they left their keys. Jokes aside, cats don’t even worry about where their next meal will come from; they know when to act, and when to rest. Cat life is a balanced life.
Of course, it is natural to worry a little, just like it’s normal to have fear, annoyance, anger, and all sorts of emotions, so long as they remain in balance. Cats never let a single emotion guide them forever. They do, however, become fierce when provoked and evasive when threatened. But they never dwell on it. Once the coast is clear, they snap back to normal.
Without further ado, here are some quick lessons from cats.
- Stop doing things that, in the end, make you unhappy.
- Approach things (work or otherwise) with a sense of playfulness.
- When you feel bad, sad, or mad, acknowledge the feeling without letting it control you.
- The meaning of life could just be life itself: the experience, the joy, the feeling.
- What about dogs?
- How do you stay calm? What’s a technique you use for unwinding and staying relaxed?
- Is it good to be calm all the time? Think of a time that an extreme reaction was a good thing.
- Are children a bit like cats in the ways described in the article? What can we learn from our youngsters?
- What’s something you would do if you followed the advice, “Be more like a cat”?