And we all need to attend.
I don’t know about you, but lately I’ve been feeling burnt out and overwhelmed by all the small day-to-day choices I have to make. That’s why I’ve been letting a chunky, dignified pug on the Internet make them for me.
I’m referring to Noodle, the 13-year-old rescue pup with a new cult following on TikTok. Every morning, his human, Jonathan Graziano, props him up on a doggy bed. If Noodle decides to sit up, it’s a “bones day,” which means that luck is on my side and I have to make the rest of the day productive.
If, however, Noodle collapses back onto his bed, it’s a “no bones day,” which means it’s perfectly acceptable to cancel plans and prioritize my mental health. It’s like a way cuter Groundhog Day and I, along with millions of other loyal followers, eagerly await Noodle’s verdict every morning.
With shorter days and the general existential dread I’ve been feeling, I’m particularly taken by Noodle’s TikTok. A couple of days ago, I was exhausted and needed to see if it was a bones or no bones day. In that video, Graziano talks about how tired he’s also been feeling. He holds Noodle and props him up on the doggy bed. Immediately, Noodle collapses and falls back asleep.
“It’s a no bones day. You know what that means,” Graziano says. “Get out the jade roller, bust out the heated blanket … build a fire, do something nice for yourself.” Even though I was nowhere near getting my work done, I decided to take a nap. Since I’m not a billionaire, I had to eventually get around to work but I needed a break and took it. And I’m a better human for it.
Since August, Noodle has gotten so big on the Internet that having a “no bones day” is becoming part of the Gen-Z lexicon. “People have told me it's a reason they buy lottery tickets and they've won a ton of money,” Graziano recently told CNN. But why the hell are so many of us letting a squishy, retired pug make potentially consequential day-to-day decisions for us?
My theory is that following Noodle’s daily verdicts gives us permission to rest without the overwhelming guilt that we’re being lazy, unproductive, or like less of a functioning adult. We’re not making the choice; Noodle is. And that’s freeing.
See, each day, we are confronted with so many options that we there’s a scientific term for it: choice overload, which describes the type of burnout that comes from feeling like there’s too much to choose from (what to wear, what to post on social media, who to go on a date with from that app) and subsequently wondering if we made the right choice. At least in my life, this has led to a perpetual search for better alternatives along with a lingering feeling of dissatisfaction. What is seldom included in our roster of possible choices, however, is the choice to take a break.
Even during the pandemic, we still glorify the hustle and look down on having too many “no bones” days. We are socialized to believe that there’s no good reason to rest just for rest’s sake. The magic of Noodle is that he reminds us that it’s okay to take a break for no other reason than “a pug on the Internet decided he didn’t have bones today.” There’s a lot we can all learn from Noodle about radical rest.