Gary Gower’s guide to a happy work life

A guest blog by Gary Gower, a wire fox terrier that likes to be heard.

A guest blog by Gary Gower, a wire fox terrier that likes to be heard.

For many of us the traditional five days a week working 9 to 5 is in the past. Good riddance? Or did you rather like the routine and greater feeling of certainty? Whether you work from a home or an office or somewhere in-between – what are the ingredients for a happy work life?

To be honest, days of the week have never made that much difference to me. I’m a dog. I’m used to hanging out at home, I’m used to sleeping at random times of day and I’m used to always wanting snacks. That’s why I thought I’d write this blog (with the help of my PA, Lucy Gower) to help you humans better manage uncertainty and be happier at work.

Have a routine for the basics. I get up every morning at the same time. I have breakfast and dinner at the same time. I go to bed around the same time. This way I know where I am. It’s important for me to have a routine for the basics otherwise it can be easy for time to wander, for days to merge into each other and to feel a bit discombobulated.

Stretch. Part of my morning waking up routine is as soon as I’m up I do my stretches. Downward dog is my favourite. There are no sudden movements until I’ve stretched out.

Exercise. Go for a walk every day. I think it’s helpful if you go in the morning, that way you can start positive, have a think about what you want to achieve, make a plan and set yourself up for the day. My PA calls it her ‘fake commute’. This week we have been walking very early because it’s so hot in the daytime.

Eat well. If you can, eat a healthy, balanced diet and have your meals at about the same time each day. That helps you to establish a routine. I know that it’s breakfast first and after that its walks and in the evening it’s dinner and then a walk round the block. Don’t miss meals and snack instead. I see my PA opening and closing the fridge all the time and it’s worse if she misses a meal. I find it annoying because I don’t know if I’m getting extra snacks or not. I don’t like snack uncertainty.

Keep things simple. I’m a dog so that’s how I see life. Simple. Humans have a real knack of making things complicated. The simpler you can make your life the better. Part of this is appreciating the simple things right now in the moment. Things like having a good place to sleep, access to snacks and smelling good sniffs. Appreciate the simple things that you do have.

Look on the positive side. I have a good life. Even on the boring days when I have to do things I don’t enjoy, like having a bath, going to the vets or walking past a scooter with scary wheels, I just forget about it instantly and find a good sniff or something else that’s positive to focus on. Find your positive things to focus on. Make them simple. It can also help to list them in your head in the morning when you’re doing your stretches. Sometimes my PA writes this down and it makes her feel better. I can’t write things down because it’s difficult without thumbs. I just do deep thinking.

Good days and bad days. Remember we all have good days and bad days. I think this is just the natural flow of things. On the bad days, (like bath day) just remember that these feelings will pass. One the good days, (like when we went to the beach and I rolled in a dead seagull) focus on the positives in the moment. If you can, remember how it felt on the good days (stinky and sticky!), and know too, that more good days will come.

Connect. Me and my PA chat to lots of people on our walks and I have several doggo friends that I like to hang out with including Buddy, Jake, Bella and Alfie. My PA also chats on her laptop a lot. Often I don’t want to go for a walk and see my friends and I hide upstairs, but when I do go out I normally feel much better. Connecting with others is important for a happy life, it can give us an opportunity to talk through worries, help others, and get a different perspective. It’s one of the reasons my PA set up the Lucidity Network.

Notice. I love sniffs. I spend as much time as possible sniffing the air and really breathing in all the smells around me. It helps to relax me. I think humans are usually in a big rush and forget to take time to notice. Remember to stop and sniff the air, breathe slowly and deeply and just notice what’s going on around you as well as noticing how you’re feeling.

Do what you want. I please myself pretty much all the time (even though my PA thinks she’s trained me, I’m just playing a game with her). Sometimes if you’re struggling to get motivated, give yourself a break and do something you want to do.  Put your ‘to do’ list to one side and do what you fancy doing, until you feel motivated again.

Play. Sometimes life can feel very serious. Like when my PA shouts ENOUGH at me when I’m testing her. But it’s important to play and have fun. My best game is sausage tug. I have a string of plastic sausages and I get PA’s to dance around with me and them and see who wins. There is even a leaderboard now it’s become so popular. It’s super fun to play. Contact my PA if you’d like to compete.

Be heard. Following on from getting motivated, it can help to tell others how you’re feeling and be heard. Personally I like to go out in the garden and bark at the neighbours. But we’re all different. My PA connects online and on the phone and in the Lucidity Network. It depends where your tribe is. Let others know you’re there, ask for help when you need it, and when you can, help other people too.

Get inspired. I love David Attenborough. When he is on the telly I sit up and take notice. It’s like nothing else matters. He inspires me. What inspires you? Tune into it. Keep your inspiration levels topped up. Be deliberate about finding a bit of inspiration every day.

Be curious and learn. Are there things that you’d like to learn? Take that online course, read the book, watch the documentary, you could even ask your friends and family to teach you. Just keep learning.

My PA is a rescue diver and a little while ago she was teaching me life saving skills in my paddling pool. I wasn’t very good and I accidentally drowned Christmas Pig. I am however, going to give it another go. It’s important to learn from mistakes and improve and keep learning.

Give. Helping others can help ourselves feel better. Apparently my Instagram makes people smile and sometimes helps them get through days when they feel sad or bored. That makes me happy. What can you give back? For example, finding volunteering opportunities in your local community or a charity that might make good use of your skills, time or donation.

Gary time. We all need our own time and space. Slow down. Take some time out each day on your own to think, breathe, notice and reflect. Even if it’s only a few minutes it can make a difference. I often take myself off somewhere quiet. My PA calls this ‘Gary time.’ I feel much better and ready to play again after a bit of time on my own. The simple truth is that if we don’t make time to think it’s very difficult to break the cycle of ‘being really busy’. I’m really busy with sniffing everything, waiting for treats, sleeping and rolling in poo but I still make space in my hectic schedule for ‘Gary time’. 

Take one day at a time. There is no such thing as ‘back to normal’. We are all on a massive learning curve and adapting to a new world where the only certainty is uncertainty. The habits and mindset you adopt now will help you build your resilience and capacity to manage the uncertain times ahead.

Gary Gower is a wire fox terrier. He loves sniffs, tummy tickles and rolling in fox poo. You can check his words of wisdom and daily activities on Instagram.

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