At least five of the seven days of the week, Christy, Kai, and I, start the day off with a run. As parents to a 100 lb. Rhodesian Ridgeback, not doing so isn't an option. At nearly 11 years old, he's still got it, albeit a little pokier than before. The running keeps him trim, keeps his world expanded, and is the foundation of his ongoing high-quality of life.
Yet all of the above was rarely my focus with the run. My focus was on me. My health. My fitness. MY RUN. The pokiness, the Sir-Marks-Alot, all challenged the quality of the run and was met with narrow-minded judgment of Kai. For example, a recent run with Kai had me feeling like, "yeah, he's really cruising today, good boy!" Yet reflecting with greater accuracy, my sense of positive judgment wasn't focused on Kai and his new-found energy––it was focused on the fact that I was feeling fulfilled with my own run. As long as I felt I was getting something good from the run, I was able to pass positive judgment onto Kai. And that's not fair. Understandable, perhaps even expected, but not fair.
Where we set our focus is crucial to how we use judgment to orient in life and ultimately, to how we engage with life. This awareness came when shifting focus towards the fact that every single run with an old(er) dog is an absolute gift, knowing that all the sniffs and marks and dumps are some of the highlights of his day, and changes the motivation of the activity from self-focused to bigger-than-self.
Accepting that we innately seek to fulfill our own needs gives us space for self-compassion instead of judging ourselves harshly. The ability and choice to use judgment to see all sides, to shift our focus to a perspective that best aligns with who we are and who we're striving to be, is a gift.
Just like our morning runs with Kai.