For six years I have been living with someone with whom I wasn’t properly communicating. That’s six years of misunderstood interactions and thinking I was doing the “right” thing, when really I was causing more suffering.

Of course, I’m talking about my dog, Willow.

We tend to think that our furry friends have it made. They don’t have to go to work or pay bills. They sleep and play and get pets whenever they want.

Except, lots of them don’t want what they’re getting. In Willow’s case, her fear and anxiety around new people, other dogs and certain noises is her way of saying, “Help me!”

And what have I done but taken her to dog parks and allowed strangers to pet her, all in an attempt to get her to be more “social” — more like the dog I hoped she could be.

Thanks to a dog trainer, I now see my little friend as she should have been seen all along: As a companion who is incredibly good at doing what I ask her to do, despite living with me who has no clue (sometimes) what she wants.

I have unknowingly triggered her anxiety many times, and then expected her to stop the barking and the whining because it annoys me.

I can’t think of a better metaphor for any relationship we have with another being — be it furry or only slightly hairy.

Expect more

We expect so much out of each other. In 2014, it’s time to expect more out of the universe.

To break our cycle of “I want things to be different, but I don’t know how” we have to be more patient. With ourselves, when change doesn’t happen fast enough. With others, when we realize we can’t change them.

When we expect more out of the universe, we’re inviting in the “how.” It truly is enough to say, “I want things to be different. Help make it so” and leave it at that.

Because after you do that, you call up the dog trainer. You go see the therapist. People come into your life who support you exactly the way you are.

If your car’s headlights have gone out, you notice all the other car’s headlights on the road that have done the same.

14 intentions for a mindful New Year

In the New Year, take advantage of the collective energy for change. Here are 14 intentions for all of us who want to live in a world of less suffering, or just houses with quieter dogs.

1. Listen more — to yourself and others.

2. Before you ask someone to change, look first at what you’re willing to alter.

3. Let more in.

“It’s not about asking for more. You’ve already done that. It’s about letting more in.” -Abraham Hicks

4. Say “Help me” openly, unabashedly and often.

5. Expect everything to work out in the best way for all involved.

6. Do the things you wish others would do for you, but without the expectation that they be reciprocated.

7. Meditate.

8. Eat plants — a lot of plants.

9. Be happy first. Then, tackle your to-do list.

10. Say “thank you” before you go to bed.

11. Reconnect daily with something that makes you feel alive. The kind of alive you once felt and have never been able to forget.

12. Move your body regularly. One yoga stretch a day is better than none.

13. Make it a priority to speak your truth, even when you don’t feel like it.

14. Make something good every day. Leave “make” open to interpretation.

What are you calling in for a mindful New Year? Use one of these or leave your own in the comments.

Try it: Sphinx Pose, Salamba Bhujangasana

How to do Sphinx Pose, Happy Momentum

This gentle heart opener is where it’s at when it comes to new beginnings. It’s a preparatory pose for greater back bending, but shouldn’t solely be viewed as a stepping stone. No matter where you begin back bending on the mat, you can always find a sense of freedom and opening.

  1. Lie on your belly on the mat, legs slightly separated and toes pressing down and away from you.
  2. Inhale and press your palms into the mat to lift your torso. Place your elbows underneath your shoulders and palms flat on the mat. Your forearms should be parallel to one another.
  3. Draw your navel in toward your spine, and firm the glutes (but don’t clench). Allow your abdomen to be loose enough to breathe deeply. Toning the navel in like this can remove tension in the low back.
  4. Energetically press your palms into the floor and away from your torso to broaden the collarbones. Stay for four to six deep breaths.
  5. Exhale and carefully lower yourself down to the mat. Release your arms by your sides and turn a cheek to the mat. Breathe into the back of the heart and observe any lightness in the mind. Take two more rounds if you like.