Feline mindfulness: staying in the present

John Gray, the philosopher, says that we should not live in “an imagined future”. The reason? To avoid anxieties because the future is uncertain. The experts believe that humans are the only creatures who spend time thinking about the future. This can lead to a flight or fight response with no real danger creating unnecessary anxiety. Cats live in the present. It’s a kind of feline mindfulness. Mindfulness means being aware of the present and not allowing our minds to obsess about something that just happened or to fret about the future as to do so makes us unnecessarily anxious.

John Gray and Julian
John Gray and Julian. The photo of Gray is a screenshot from a YouTube video and the photo of Julian was provided by Gray and his wife Mieko.
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John Gray has written a book about philosophy based on his observations of the four cats that he lived with. He lives in Bath, UK with his wife, Meiko, and at one time also with four cats. They were two Burmese sisters, Sophie and Sarah, and two Birman brothers, Julian and Jamie. Julian died recently at the good age of 23. Julian had flame-pointing, a very handsome cat. The Birman is a semi-long-haired cat breed.

John Gray suggests that people live in the moment and avoid attaching “ourselves too heavily to some overarching purpose” because if we do we are “losing the joy of life”. He wants people to “live for the sensation of life” as cats do. Of course, philosophy is a difficult subject but my simplistic interpretation of his advice is that humans should spend less time fretting about the future and do their best to live in and enjoy the present because the future is too uncertain. If you have plans for your life there is a good chance that they will be upset by events. I’m sure that this doesn’t mean that people should not plan because this is a human trait (and a useful one) but I guess it should be tempered with the reality that events will intervene.

This doesn’t mean that domestic cats can’t be anxious. It just means that they are anxious about real-time events rather than imagined events. Former Prime Minister Harold Macmillan’s famous saying “Events dear boy, events” encapsulates the philosophy. He was referring to how events can push government objectives off course. For the sake of clarity, it is not completely sure when he said it.

Some more on cat emotions

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