Pets: Means to a fulfilling life

Pets: Means to a fulfilling life

"If having a soul means being able to feel love and loyalty and gratitude, then animals are better off than a lot of humans." ―James Herriot.

Most of us have watched and fallen in love with the movie “Hachiko: A Dog’s Tale.” The movie is an example of the wonderful bond that human beings share with their pets. The dog (Hachi) waited until the last day of his life at the same place (railway station), expecting his human best friend to return. There is an unconditional love between a human and their pet animals (dogs, cats, horses, cows, fishes) which is hard to find in human relationships nowadays. It’s a different kind of bond which is completely based on the understanding of the other being, it does not involve any verbal communication, and our pets understand us even when we don’t speak a single word. It’s a selfless loving relationship, a pure form of love unlike what we experience in most of the human relationship these days.

According to a 2015 Harris poll, 95% of owners think of their animal as a member of the family. About half buy them birthday presents! Having a pet has mutual benefits for both the human and the animal. Several types of research provide evidence for the physical benefits of living with a pet which varies from improvement in cardiovascular health and increased physical activity to lower cholesterol and decreased blood pressure (Levine, Allen, Braun, Christian, Friedmann, Taubert, ... & Lange, 2013).

Pets provide us with support and a great relief from the stress and daily hassles and we always have a loving being eagerly waiting for us at home. Especially, Dogs are our best friends. After all,

A dog is the only thing on earth that loves you more than you love yourself.” –Josh Billings

Life is filled with stressors and to-do lists that never seem to end. A study by Randolph and colleagues (2012) show the psychological benefits of having a furry friend coming to work, and a growing number of companies — Atlantic Health System, Mars Inc., Amazon, and Etsy, to name a few, offer a dog-friendly environment to reduce stress among employees.

Apart from helping us in coping with several psychological and physiological illnesses, animals play an important role in our development throughout the lifespan. They assist in the healthy growth of the children by encouraging more physical activities. They are a reliable source of love and friendship for teenagers, who can tell their issues and emotional ups and downs to no one but their pets, and pets also serve as a companion for adults going through the “empty nest” phase. Also, in later stages of life, when people are lonely, their career comes to an end, the spouse is no more… pets provide a purpose to their lives.
If we take a look on the kind of life we as humans have today, it’s quite disappointing that our own inventions (technological advancements, gadgets, etc.) have become a source of distress for us. Our so-called ‘modern’ lifestyle is good for nothing. On one hand, there is a negative impact on the environment and on the other hand, we are losing our values. Pets are of much help in this scenario, they keep us closer to the environment and thus make us more sensitive towards it. They encourage us to spend some time with them and thus we spend less time on our gadgets. They encourage us to live a healthy stress-free life and make our place lively and cheerful!

In another study based article by Harvard medical school, it was mentioned that “Perhaps one of the greatest psychological benefits of interacting with a dog is the opportunity it provides to be more mindful — to purposely focus your attention on the present moment.” And mindfulness, as we all know, is a great tool for mental peace. Hence, pets are indeed a means to mental peace and healthy living. D. Helen Brooks from the University of Manchester in the United Kingdom – in her study indicates that “The findings revealed that having a pet offers people a deep sense of "ontological security" — that is, the feeling of stability, continuity, and meaning in one's life.”

Animals are better at reading our face, emotional gestures and are also highly empathetic. They are the ones beside us when no human is, no matter what the situation is your pet will never forget that you have been nice to them. The idea of having an animal as our pet is great as it will make us a human, it will keep us close to nature. It will help develop qualities like compassion, altruism, and care.
Thus, right from giving us a better physical, psychological and social health to helping us recover from traumatic events and stressful times, pets are our best friends who love us unconditionally and provide meaning in life. They don’t judge us, they don’t hurt us.

"Let’s talk about the most loving and compassionate being on the planet and learn from animals, how to become a social animal. Adopt a pet.. Spread love! Happy living!"

About the Author

Sarika Patel
Research Scholar.

Sarika Patel is working as a research assistant with a private counselling space in Indor

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