Recently, I’ve been feeling a bit down so my girlfriend decided to leave her adorable cute dog, Chewbee, spend some time with me. Fast forward about two weeks, scan my heart and my brain and you’d see connections light up like 4th of July fireworks.
I promise you no doggo has been harmed in the writing of this article, I didn’t manage to bum her out as Joey did with Mozzarella when Rachel didn’t reciprocate his feelings. I sincerely felt that with the emotional support of Chewbee the sky was the limit.
The Positive Effects of Pets
You’ve probably heard by now about animal-assisted therapy. It is used in a wide variety of medical and behavioral fields, from patients with terminal diseases to individuals on the autism
This meta-study looked at 250 individuals studies on animal-assisted therapy and they’re all hopeful, promising and insisting on the positive emotional support animals provide.
So in my personal experience, with each walk around the block I noticed that my neighbors who I’ve never ever exchanged more than hellos with were walking their dogs too. Since animals are more drawn to each other and social, when our dogs would start interacting, my neighbors and I too would start talking. An instant familiarity and an invisible bond I’ve never quite experienced before soon developed.
I was finding a lost sense of community, people were smiling more around me and no matter how low I was feeling a particular day I would get up and go out with my loyal buddy by my side.
The responsibility, the joy of daily walks, that morning and evening routine that pulls you out of bed, not to mention, that warm fuzzy feeling you have when they curl up next to you, accounted for so much in what I had accomplished the previous weeks.
But just by how much? I wondered.
Pets’ Effect on Productivity Results
As my work scheduled progressed naturally, I literally felt an invisible defensive barrier around me repelling stress. A Mayo Clinic study actually highlighted that the effects of petting a dog are quantifiable and that “they include increases in serotonin, dopamine, prolactin, and oxytocin.” At this point, we all know that these are the happiness hormones.
I was feeling stress-free and happy.
This Virginia Commonwealth study actually pinpointed stress reduction by indicating how a group of workers with dogs by their side had reduced stress levels compared to those who did not. A study conducted by the University of Warwick found that happiness made employees about 12% more productive and for Google, that percentage rose to 37.
With Pets by Your Side the Sky is the Limit
Feeling more energized, more outgoing, overall happier, obviously also made me feel more productive. At work, my intrinsic and extrinsic motivation felt aligned and I saw myself completing more tasks, thinking clearer, and going to more events.
I was rediscovering topics I’m passionate about, such as computational cognitivism and affective science. I got to read about how math can help us take simpler and faster decisions and how we are not at the mercy or our emotions.
However, productivity doesn’t just come from feeling social, joyful or… bookwormy.
Sometimes, the emotional support of pets comes in the form of routine, algorithms, and responsibility. Chewbee’s mess, her, at occasions, incessant barking, her resistance to let me put the leash on, often made me think “well, what else can you do now but accept it’s not going your way and be okay with it?”.
It was my very own form of meditation.
As Brian Christian and computational cognitivist Tom Griffiths explain in their book “Algorithms to live by,” you shouldn’t always consider all your options. You don’t have to go all the time for the best outcome. You can make a mess on occasion and let things wait.
Ever since I noticed my mood starting to improve with having a pet in my care, I’ve been dying to find out what else besides the joy of snotty kisses, furry hugs and long walks can these amazing animals give us.
And my conclusion is that if you’re pondering whether or not you should get a pet, don’t. They’ll change your life. You’ll feel happier, make better decisions and become more productive. What’s your experience or lack of it tells you about the effect of a pet’s emotional support on productivity? Comment below or get social with us on social media via the outlets found somewhere on this page. And thanks for reading!
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