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6 Things Dogs Can Teach Us About Happiness

Our dog’s name is Aria and she has a wonderful influence on the family.  She loves to play with the kids and is excited and happy whenever any of us walk in the door.  She adapts to each family member’s mood and has enough love to spread among everyone in the family with some left over for visitors.  As I learn and write about happiness, I noticed she already knows most of what I am learning and provides great examples for how to be happier.

 

  1. Gratitude comes natural to her.  She is grateful when we get home, grateful when we take her on a walk, grateful when she gets fed and really grateful when we throw a ball she can chase and bring back.
  2. Positive Relationships – she connects and gives unconditional love to anyone who is willing to spend a few minutes with her, as long as they pass the sniff test.  She notices people’s moods and adjusts her actions to fit their mood.  When we are excited to see her, she shares that excitement and when we are quiet and thoughtful she lies down and patiently waits. Her expectation is that she will love and be loved back, so she ignores any actions that don’t support that belief.
  3. Forgiveness – she never holds a grudge.  No matter how forgetful or thoughtless we are, she will immediately forgive us and be ready play and love and just hangout.
  4. Positive Attitude – She believes everything is going to turn out right and ignores any evidence to the contrary.  She never stops and worries, what if they don’t feed me.  She just keeps expecting that at some point she is going to be fed.  If someone in the family is in a bad mood, she waits patiently with the expectation they will eventually transition back to a good mood and she does everything she can to help them get there.
  5. Owns Her Happiness – If we are not around or are too busy to play, our dog will sit in the sun, chew on a bone, or chase squirrels as they jump from tree to tree.  She finds a way to be happy and enjoy herself no matter what the circumstances.
  6. Higher Purpose – she knows her purpose in life is to make us happy.  You can see in her eyes the joy she gets from making someone in the family smile. The happier we get, the happier she gets.  She is never angry or upset.  She stays focused on her purpose; making us happy and being happy with us.

 

So, if you need a quick reminder about how to be happy, talk to your dog.  Her response will be happiness itself.

“Happiness is a warm puppy.” – Charles M. Schulz

What have you learned from your dog about happiness?

About 

My Passion is helping people become successful and happy. I have found that many people want to be successful but just don’t know how. More importantly, people want to be successful because they feel that reaching some success pinnacle will result in them becoming happy. The research and my experience has shown that just the opposite is the case. Success does not lead to happiness. Happiness leads to success.

How to get Happy – 4 Concepts connected to Leadership and Success

Over the years I have had the opportunity to study leadership and success.   I am struck by the connections between each area and how those connections are similar for happiness as well.

 

Your first test on happiness:

  1. Do you want to:
    1. Receive happiness like winning the lottery or receiving a gift?
    2. Experience happiness as a state of mind?

If you choose A, then you may be waiting for a while, possibly forever.  However, if you choose B, then we, the team at Pursuit-of-Happiness.org, have a lot to share that may be helpful.

 

Sonja Lyubomirsky, in her book The How of Happiness, explained that happiness is created through our daily intentional activities.  This is consistent with Leadership and Success as well.   Happiness is within our ability to control with what we do in our daily lives and how we think.

 

Here are 4 concepts that will provide a framework for exploring happiness.

The first concept is understanding the difference between Pleasure and Happiness.   Are you chasing immediate pleasures like sex, decadent foods, couch time, and video time, or are you nurturing relationships, maintaining your health through diet and exercise,  finding ways to improve yourself, and being thankful for what is working in your life.  The pursuit of pleasure involves feeling good in the short-term at the possible risk of negative long-term outcomes; the pursuit of happiness consists of intentional activities and habits that promote long term health and well-being.

 

 

The second concept is taking control of your life.   George Bernard Shaw although a little gruff, was headed in the right direction when he explained pursuing happiness as, “…being a force of Nature instead of a feverish little selfish clod of ailments and grievances complaining that the world will not devote itself to making you happy. “  Do you own your decisions and the consequences of those decisions?  Are you deciding every day to invest in the habits and activities that will lead to happiness or are you waiting and hoping that happiness will find you?

 

The third concept is cultivating close positive relationships.  Do you have a few close friends you can talk to and share tell about your failures and successes? People who know and appreciate the real you, the good and the bad?  Are you caring and sharing in the community? Is there a person, group, or cause that you care for and give to?  The acts of sharing our true selves with others and caring for others are the most important things we can do to generate happiness and contentment in our lives.

 

The fourth concept is finding and expressing purpose and meaning.  The full George Bernard Shaw quote is:

This is the true joy in life, the being used for a purpose recognized by yourself as a mighty one; the being thoroughly worn out before you are thrown on the scrap heap; the being a force of Nature instead of a feverish little selfish clod of ailments and grievances complaining that the world will not devote itself to making you happy.

 

Do you have something bigger than yourself to focus on?  Is there something bigger that you believe in or something that you know you were meant to do?  For many people this can be expressed in their religion or other spiritual pursuits.  Others may focus on their children or their meaningful contributions.

 

In summary, if you are choosing to pursue happiness:

  1. Understand the difference between Pleasure and Happiness
  2. Take control of your life and your happiness.
  3. Develop close positive relationships and care for others.
  4. Find and express purpose and meaning in your life.

 

As described above for happiness, leadership and success require a long term perspective, action and ownership, strong relationships, and a sense of purpose.

 

Also like Leadership and Success, happiness is not a possession that can be acquired.   It is a state of mind resulting from the cultivation of intentional daily habits.    It has to be pursued, explored, and experienced on an on-going basis.   Find out more about how to cultivate Happiness Habits at Pursuit-of-Happiness.org.

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