i don't rate dogs anymore

from evy's notebook

I used to rate most dogs I saw on a scale of 1 to 10. This wasn't like those twitter accounts that describe every dog as perfect and beautiful and 15/10; they were "honest dog ratings" and the average score was around a 6. I thought it was fun to decide how cute a dog was after a brief glance, and I would cheerfully share these ratings with friends. But one sunny day towards the end of 2021, I got high at a dog park and saw a dog in a new way. The dog was joyful and soft and friendly. It brought me so much joy that I just wanted to appreciate its existence without rating it, without determining what percentile cuteness it was. It had transcended the scale of 1 to 10. And, remarkably, I've never rated a dog again.

Since around that time, I've been trying to move away from judgement and especially from forming quick and negative opinions about things. I've also been creating more distance between me and people who regularly express these sorts of judgments. I still enjoy exploring ideas and forming opinions, but I prefer connection and curiosity over anger or condescendence. When I'm angry, I try to keep a nuanced perspective beyond "good" or "bad". When I don't want to spend time around someone, I try to create distance with as much kindness as I have the bandwidth to give.

This has helped me be a happier person in several ways. When my friends and I express harsh judgement less often, I become less afraid of being judged. When I have the emotional safety to explore or express ideas without bracing to defend myself, I have more space to be vulnerable and creative and curious.

I've had trouble moving away from judgement. I sometimes end up upset at myself for speaking harshly about others - judging myself for judging. But this is a process. I surround myself by people who look at things with kindness and nuance. They help me see more ways I can learn from the world. They help me see more ways to find joy in the world. The help me appreciate the many, many ways that a dog can be wonderful.