My parents’ dog, Buttons, tilted his head from side to side, looking at me with adoring brown eyes. Would I please give him a little morsel of my dinner, pretty please?
My cat, Rosa, scratches on the side of the bed, catching my arm in the process. Would I get up already and get her some breakfast?
These two approaches to getting what is wanted have lots of lessons for us humans, who often find getting what we want challenging. Why? Because unlike dogs and cats, we are a hodgepodge of learned behaviors and a melting pot of conflicting interests. By applying some wisdom from our animal companions perhaps we too, can effectively get what we want.
Dogs are descended from an Asian, now extinct, grey wolf. While they have moved a long way from their wild counterparts, they still exhibit some of wolf-like instinctive behavior. Wolf pups will use licking and fawning behaviors to get the attention of the adults in the pack so they’re fed. The pack instinct is to provide food based on rank and to ensure the survival of the pack as a whole. Buttons has learned that when he does the cute head tilt, the humans in his world (or at least some of them, my father remains unmoved) will give him what he wants. He also knows exactly what he wants. He’s angling for a bit of chicken, not for a walk in that moment. His clarity of intent and single focus has a good chance of succeeding, just as his wild ancestors would choose an animal in the herd to target when hunting. Also, Buttons is dedicated and loving to his human family. His affectionate attention also means that the humans in his life want to make him happy. Like wolves, dogs operate from a pack mentality. They want the whole to thrive, not just the individual.
HUMAN APPLICATION – Like Buttons, we too could benefit from being kind, sweet and charming to others. If you want someone to help you with the dishes, asking in a playful or loving manner is a good way to get some help! Having clarity of focus and a community mindset is also a winning strategy. Learning to focus less on our human wants and more on what is needed for a thriving ecosystem for all living things is essential for our survival. Finally, being focused is neccessary. Buttons isn’t easily distracted in that moment! He wants a piece of chicken and he’s using all his charm to get it! When we are clear and put all our energy toward a single objective, we have a much higher chance of getting it.
House cats, and their wild counterparts, are ambush predators. This means they aren’t looking for direct confrontation, but instead prefer to attack from behind. This is why cats love to stare at you, until you stare back, at which point they usually look away. They want to observe, unseen, and unnoticed, until they are ready to pounce! Rosa applies some of her wild instincts, to scratch the bed in the morning until I wake up. She knows that I don’t want her to scratch me or the bed, which usually means, I get up and get her some food. Cats are not pack animals. They are less concerned about their human companions needs being met and more concerned with their own. Rosa wants food, so she uses a quick and efficient method to get it. Cats are very charismatic. Because they are often aloof, when they do bring attention to you, it is hard to resist! They also are very confident. They aren’t going to beg you for anything. In fact, they expect to get what they want and they usually get it!
HUMAN APPLICATION –
Like cats, we can benefit from expecting to succeed at whatever our goals are. When we boldly and confidently pursue what we want, our energy sends out a powerful message to the people around us. Being direct is also a good strategy. Instead of hoping someone will guess our needs, directly asking for them to be met can work really well, though perhaps employing some dog charm in the asking might be helpful too. Rosa is also very content in her own company. She will wander around near us, but is completely content doing her own thing. When we give off a vibe of being self-assured, this sends a message to others that we are capable. Employing a little cat confidence can go along way to getting what we want!
So how about you? Do you use dog charm or cat confidence to get what you want? Or do you use a mixture of both? Share in the comments! I’d love to hear what works for you!