Ready? Get It!
Dog Life Unleashed Calming the Chaos: a 30 Day Experiment to breakthrough anxiety, stop yelling (and most of the time that is going on in you head not out loud!) and start playing for high energy dog people.
1. Our full attention is the hardest thing to get.
In 2010, Harvard psychologists Matthew Killingsworth and Daniel Gilbert conducted a study with 2,250 subjects, checking with them at random times (via a phone app) to record what they were doing at that moment and what their mind was focused on. A quarter-million datapoints later, they determined that the test subjects (and all of us by extrapolation), had wandering minds, i.e. were not paying attention/fully engaged with what was right in front of them -- a whopping 47 percent of the time.
In the last two days while I continue to study anxiety and how we can get ourselves and our dogs to a better place this study has come up twice. Once on Andrew Huberman's podcast and the other written in a post by @PowerofTruth
2. Dogs are picking up the same inability to focus because we aren't showing them how
We're distracted from the get go in the morning. Frequent distractions affect everything, including our dogs.
In this world of social media and digital communication, our lives are increasingly lived on screens. We check emails upon waking up. We're on Instagram when we go to the bathroom. We check text messages while waiting at a red light. We are not present. The constant switching between these various apps has become an integral part and means of communication today rather than having conversations.
Dings and notifications go off and your mind wanders. You can't concentrate. You get less done. In fact it interrupts you taking the dog for a 20 minute walk because you got too distracted.
3. Dogs pick up on energy before anything else
You're a bit scattered and can't pay attention. Ever wonder why your dog is doing the same thing? A "notification" goes off for your dog and all bets are off when it comes to doing something you asked him to do. Like don't jump, race out the door, eat holes in your new Bomba socks. Thank goodness that company has a guarantee to replace a sock when it accidentally becomes your dogs new chew toy!
You get the idea. Our dogs are scattered too and it's up to you to un-scatter them. One of my favorite ways to do that is to teach a very basic fundamental focus game I call Ready? Get It!
Best time to do it?
In the morning. Right before feeding your dog breakfast. I call it a 3 minute morning routine to gain focus so that your dog can learn to drop things they shouldn't have, stop jumping on you and everyone else or run away when you want them to come to you. Stay tuned... I've got a couple more things to go over and I'll give you the link to a video on exactly how to play this game with your dog to stop all the notifications and start learning how to focus.
4. Some days it seems like our concentration is under attack from all sides
We're constantly blasted with distractions. Research has found our brains are so primed for this that just seeing your mobile phone impairs your concentration ability. They call them smartphones when they are actually dulling our ability to concentrate in so many ways.
We constantly assess whether the information is useful, sufficient, or meaningless. And all of that actually stops us from doing fundamental things that are proven to make us more efficient and happy.
5. Help to gain your focus (and your dog's too!)
Sufficient physical activity. It has been proven over and over again, exercise, even vigorous exercise will find you more relaxed and energetic throughout the day.
Dogs were born to move. It's in their DNA. Exercise is a vital part of any dog’s life. Dogs are simply happier and healthier when they have physical exercise – just like people! If your dog's home all day laying around it's even more important that they get exercise at least once a day.
Key component of Calming the Chaos Experiment: Walk your dog for 20 minutes (minimum) a day!
Your dog most likely gets plenty of sleep. Lucky for your dog. You most likely don't.
Here are some factors that are cutting into your sleep which is affecting your focus. You look at your phone before you go to bed. You look at your phone when you get up. In fact, you look at your phone in the middle of the night when you wake up. Ask me how I know?!
Since putting the phone away, turning off notifications from 8 pm to 8 am, restful sleep has returned.
Though it's not part of the Experiment, give it a try! This simple thing makes big waves in your ability to focus. It also gives you those 20 minutes to get out with your dog and move in the morning.
You won't miss the 20 minutes of scroll time that actually scatters your brain and leaves your dog wandering around the house un-constructively looking for attention.
7. Recognize "Alarms" going off in your head
Dr Russell Kennedy goes in depth in his book Anxiety RX about the Alarm/Anxiety cycle. Again I highly recommend you get this book (its on audio too)
Anxiety, anxious thoughts, and chronic worry are all synonymous. They are all activities of the mind.
When you start your day with social media feeds full of extremes, leaving you concerned you're definitely going to run out of money or the world's probably going to end, there's no hope you aren't living with a sense of alarm all the time.
It stops even the most successful person from the simplest of fundamentals to calm the chaos carried around in the mind.
8. Practice presence
Between stimulus and response there is a space. In that space is our power to choose our response. In our response lies our growth and our freedom. ~Dr Vicktor Frankl
We're accustomed to background alarms going off in our heads all the time. We respond in anxiety. We don't actually do anything to shut the alarm off. We automatically respond.
Practice presence with your dog.
Seriously, how often to I hear people (and I've been guilty of it) chattering away, even yelling at their dog when they've done something wrong, somehow thinking it's going to change the situation. How often have you hoped that your dog is going to make a different decision because you reacted on an alarm that has been going off unconsciously on repeat?
It looks like this... you're rushing around the house trying to get organized for the 2 million things you've got to get done today and someone opens the front door.
Your dog starts to run out. You start yelling. NOO, stop, come back. Come HEEEERRRRE! and the dog keeps on running. Fun game for your dog. Not fo you.
Had you practiced the Ready? Get It! Game with your dog (how-to video link below) you could start practicing the moment you take pause. You don't react. You stay present, use your marker word, "Ready?", your dog stops and looks at you. "Get It!" Your dog follows your directional gesture.
It's the perfect way to think about training your response to everything. Practice staying present. Don't react to practiced alarms of the past, and know you've got all you need to make a good choice right now in this moment.
9. Ready? Get It! Game
When I first introduce this game to people with dogs that just aren't listening to anything well, they think it's crazy that something so simple can transfer to focus in so many situations. It certainly doesn't happen on the first day, but that's the point of the Experiment. What happens when you practice a few simple things that take little time consistently every day?
I can tell you from seeing it happen over and over, you can make big change that way. You can calm down. You can let go of raising your voice to be heard. You can pause in the moments between stimulus and response and find the power of calm confident response.
You'll lead your dog right down the same path with you. Turn off the alarms about your dog losing focus in the moments you need it and start playing this game ➡️ Ready? Get It! Game
10. Calm the Chaos Experiment
If you've got a dog and you're a busy high performing person, an entrepreneur, you're in charge of a family that's trying to do it all, you're single and managing it all ... and you find yourself waking up at 3 am with anxiety racing around your mind... You're handling it, but you wish you had a little more time to just be content with your life. Your dog is your mirror. You both most likely need a little more #playeveryday and a lot less practice at repeated anxiety practices...
Join us at Dog Life Unleashed Calming the Chaos!