10 simple ways to turn a bad day around

“Happiness depends upon ourselves.” –Aristotle

We all have bad days—those days when everything seems to go wrong. Even when we strive to live mindfully and cherish the gift that is today, sometimes life has other ideas, and everything turns upside down and sideways.

It’s easy to give in to the negativity. But when we do, our bad day often becomes worse. It doesn’t have to be that way. What if we could turn our bad day good again?

Here are 10 simple ways to cheer up next time you find yourself stuck in a bad day:

How to transform every dog walk into a meditation

After practicing meditation daily for many years, I made a startling discovery: Meditation doesn’t require one to light a candle and sit pretzel-like on a cushion with eyes closed and your hands in a formal position. Informal forms of meditation—taking a walk or riding a horse, for example—can be just as powerful (if not more so). That’s because meditation aims to bring all of our energy here to this present moment, and open our hearts to the peaceful power that exists in the now—something animals instinctively know how to do. It matters not how we do this, but rather that we do it.

Once we realize this, fitting healing meditations into your busy days becomes that much easier. Especially for those of us with dogs. Imagine if every dog walk could transform into a walking meditation. It truly can! Here are six easy tips you can try today:

Dare to be bold: Shelters and sanctuaries need meditation

Last year, I wrote “How to Transform Skeptics Into Believers,” an article about my five best tips for breaking down barriers when bringing Reiki and meditation to shelters and sanctuaries. Though holistic approaches are starting to gain wider acceptance in recent years, many of us still encounter pushback from critics when attempting to share Reiki with animals in need.

But as the article points out, don’t let that stop you! As Reiki practitioners and firm believers in the healing effects of meditation, we must be bold. We must rise above skepticism so that we may offer Reiki, a form of meditation that creates a healing space for animals, to the homeless and the suffering. And in case you need some really bold examples to jumpstart your inspiration, here are three:

The amazing before and after of a street dog from India

“Listen to the mustn’ts, child. Listen to the don’ts. Listen to the shouldn’ts, the impossibles, the won’ts. Listen to the never haves, then listen close to me … Anything can happen, child. Anything can be.”Shel Silverstein

The following story comes from one of my SARA shelters, TOLFA (Tree of Life for Animals) sanctuary in Rajasthan, Northern India. For those of us who work with shelter animals, where navigating heartbreak and hope is an everyday occurrence, stories like these—of animals who beat impossible odds—remind us why we do what we do.

“She has a severe blood disorder. She’s so emaciated, she’s going to need a blood transfusion to survive.”  The vet’s words confirmed the rescuers’ worst fears: The condition of Twiggy, as she was later named, looked dire when she first arrived at TOLFA.

Why rescued canines make the best service dogs

Dogs from shelters aren’t usually the first choice when it comes to organizations looking to train service dogs. But I hope one day that can change: Nearly 4 million dogs are euthanized in shelters every year, and many of those are breeds best known for making wonderful service animals—golden retrievers, labs, German shepherds and the like. (But did you know pit bulls and “mutts” make great service dogs, too?) Here’s another factor worth mentioning: Dogs rescued from shelters know what it means firsthand to be abused and neglected, easing that connection with people in need who have found themselves in similar life circumstances.

As animal lovers know, companion animals often surprise us; they melt hearts, break barriers and make miracles. And as you’ll see, the following dogs do just that. Read on to see how these seven smart canines went from shelter dog to service dog—and now dedicate their lives to making this world a better place.