After years of living with and observing his own cat Ziggy, author Stéphane Garnier decided people would be much happier if they adopted the calm, wise, and self-assured characteristics of cats. In How to Think Like a Cat, he shares key tips for following their lead — and explains why doing so might build a much more satisfying life. Below are some of our favorites.
1. Think about yourself and your well-being. Look after yourself. Nobody will do it better or do more for you than you.
Cats devote most of their lives to ensuring their own well-being. And in order to do that, you sometimes have to know how to be a little selfish and think only about yourself. That doesn’t mean being a navel-gazer, narcissistic, or egocentric, but giving yourself permission to place your personal happiness above that of others at times. You can’t give to others if you don’t know how to give to yourself.
2. Be curious! About everything!
Cats have an unbridled curiosity, which makes them constantly reexplore their world. Every day is a new discovery, a little scrap of extraordinary fueled by this boundless curiosity. We can all benefit from learning a little each day, and being amazed more often. Learn something new every day: One moment of curiosity per day means 365 new pieces of knowledge per year, and believe me, it makes all the difference, not only to your ability to perform well in pub quizzes, but above all, to your happiness.
3. Learn to say “no,” as a cat does.
Cats hate being told what to do. Obey orders? Not for them! Learning to say “no” means knowing how to preserve your time, your capacity for action, and your life, as well as winning the respect of your family, friends, and colleagues.
4. Fill the space around you with your presence and charisma by being sincere, discreet, plain, and true.
A cat’s discretion and personality oblige us to look in their direction every time they pad into the lounge. Classy, very classy. Who hasn’t dreamed of possessing such magnetism? What does your cat do to give off such positive vibrations and become the focus of so much admiration? Nothing. YOUR CAT SIMPLY IS. And that’s the cat’s biggest lesson: If you wish to acquire a little more animality and charisma, simply be.
5. Cultivate the comfort and aesthetics of your little gilded palace, and you’ll feel so much better.
Cats adore their home, whatever the size. Their home is their domain, and they are the sole masters of the place. But what interests us here is the love, attention, and protection that a cat accords to its house, its territory. How do you feel at home? What are the walls and furniture like? Do you enjoy having friends around for dinner? Are you proud to show off your home? Have you created all of the conditions for your own well-being?
Your home should also be a sanctuary, somewhere for you to truly relax, recharge your batteries, and cut yourself off from the hustle and bustle outside, just for a while.
6. See the fun in everything.
Play is one of your cat’s main occupations, and hunting is a part of that, as cruel as this can seem. But it’s your cat's way of amusing itself, just as we humans have invented myriad ways of laughing and having fun.
Know how to laugh (and above all, how to laugh about everything), know how to not take yourself too seriously. Self-image, cultivated pretenses…we must forget everything — all of those human traits that prevent us from having fun and laughing.
7. Maintain your friendships.
If your cat accepts you into its world, it will become your faithful, steadfast friend. Consequently, your cat will take care of you each day. It will pad up to you, meowing gently, to see how you’re doing, will listen to your complaining, and will know how to reassure and console you. Your cat will be there for you at every moment.
We should follow the example of our cats, and take the loyalty, tenderness, and friendship they show us and apply it to our friends almost to the letter.
8. To be loved, you must start by accepting and loving yourself.
Cats are proud of what they are, as is proven by their almost haughty attitude to other animals — humans too sometimes. Knowing how to accept yourself shouldn’t be complicated once you adopt the attitude of your cat, who considers itself to be great just as it is. Just try this: Stand in front of the mirror in the morning and say “You know I love you?” while laughing. Seems simple, but try it. You’ll have no choice but to smile.
Text adapted from the book How to Think Like a Cat by Stéphane Garnier. Copyright © 2018 by Stéphane Garnier. Published Feb. 1, 2018, by Harper Wave, an imprint of HarperCollins Publishers. Used with permission.