Don’t judge a book by its cover

I am sure many of you know that we are the proud owners of an adorable Shih Tzu named Bella. In case you weren’t aware, she is the light of our life and the princess of the house. Bella wears a top-knot and can always be found sporting an adorable hair bow. She is also a competitive AKC Agility dog. This surprises some people.

They see the fluffy little white dog with the hair bow and make an assumption…probably a number of assumptions actually. Some about the dog and some about the owners. The point being that we all have a tendency to think we know the story, the situation, person or dog by what we see and observe at a quick glance. But we are often wrong in these assessments. Usually it is our tendency to categorize and judge that is at work in these moments. It isn’t our fault, our human physiology is set up to quickly scan the environment, decide what the deal is and then take action or in fact make a judgement.

But we are more than our physiology, and therefore we have the ability to step back and be willing to open ourselves up to the curiosity and exploration of not knowing. Not knowing can be the most exciting thing ever! Just look at how kids navigate the world. They are so excited to wake up and greet the day because they bring an open-minded spontaneous energy to everything they do.

The key to recapturing that energy in our adult lives is to be willing to admit we don’t know as much as we think we do. The question really boils down to this – Are we teachable and willing to be wrong? The truth is that many people would rather stay stuck in painful patterns then to admit they are wrong or that they don’t have the answers. Our willingness to get comfortable with the idea of “not knowing” is really the first step to recapturing the joy and elation of life.

As an interesting sidenote, Bella received an invitation to compete in the AKC Agility Invitational this month in Florida. The top five dogs in the country from each breed are invited to compete. When we started competing in agility with Bella, we never had any aspirations to reach this level. We had in fact made a number of assumptions about her, and the likelihood of her reaching this level of success competing as a Shih Tzu in agility. Bella has taught us an important lesson about not judging a book by its cover. She reminds us every time she steps in the ring to compete that she makes her own rules, lives life on her own terms and to expect the unexpected.