Lessons About Happiness This Holiday

blog 5 Profound Lessons Dogs Can Teach Us About Happiness This Holiday
Early this year my dear cousin asked me to watch her dog for a month while she traveled overseas. We quickly became inseperable, and soon I knew why dogs are described as man’s best friend. With heart-warming gaze, playful knicks and unfluctuating flexibility, the little guy quickly won me over. 

 Whether we were sleeping on the couch, napping in the car, riding round the block or headed out on a four hour drive to the Bay Area for a hackathon, Chase happily hops in and comes along without a complaint. This holiday I am reflecting on what that our most faithful companions can teach us much about finding happiness and fulfilment...

Here are 5 profound lessons dogs can teach us about happiness this holiday:


How to make and keep friends


Surveys suggest that the thing people value most about their dogs is the welcome they get whenever they come home. We are glad to see dogs because they are glad to see us. This seems obvious, yet in our human-to-human interactions we frequently fail to let those close to us know how much we care for them. How many times have you had a phenomenal time with a friend and let them know unguardedly how much you truly value them?


Of course, it’s hard to rival the dog’s wagging tail, eager eyes and joyful barks when it comes to expressing affection, but even a smile which says “I like you, you make me happy” can make a difference.


We can find our own rewards by choosing friends we really like, and always behaving towards them in a genuine and honest way — just like dogs do.


Prominent people often find it difficult to distinguish true friends and those who are using them for their own ends. In dogs, we find true and faithful companions, who love you whether you are a vagrant living under a bridge or the richest person in the world.


Dogs are true through thick and thin - and that’s the art of making and keeping friends.


Trust your instincts


Dogs are exceptionally good at making rapid and very good decisions based on their gut instincts.


Chase always let’s me know as soon as he catches a whiff of unusual movement in near my residence, which helps me feel safe.


“During the 2004 South Asian tsunami, dogs that lived on the beaches in the affected area began running inland long before the first waves hit,” says Ryan O’Meara, author of Amazing Dog Facts and Trivia. “They were way ahead of even the weather forecasters, and they didn’t hesitate to act on what they felt.”


Same is true of service dogs which send seizure or medical alerts and sniffer dogs, which signal their owner the moment they get a whiff of drugs or explosives. They don’t hang around questioning what their noses are telling them.


Humans have good intuition too - yet in many areas of life we tune out our gut instincts. When options appear we suddenly start to question our initial response. We are so paralysed by this constant over-analysis that we frequently end up making poor decisions. 


O'Meara points out that successful military leaders such as Caesar, Napoleon and General Patton were all known for their willingness to make big decisions very quickly.


‘Remember that your first instincts are, in many cases, the right ones. Do what dogs do and learn to trust them.’


Take the lead


Look at the behaviour of alpha males in dog packs. They are often the calmest, quietest and most docile members of the pack — the ones most likely to put up with nonsense from puppies.  But they carry themselves with a certain confidence which commands respect, and they maintain their position by being consistent, trustworthy and leading by example. 


“An alpha male would never ask another dog to do something he wouldn’t do himself,” says O'Meara. By contrast, human bosses often say one thing and do another, and leave their staff feeling let down. If we show those who place their faith in us that it will always be repaid, then we should never have to prove ourselves by being aggressive and overtly dominant.


Be Tenacious


In ancestral times, finding solutions was a matter of life or death. The ancestors of both humans and dogs knew that to survive they had to solve problems such as where to find food, and how to evade predators.


Lab studies suggest that dogs are still hard-wired to keep worrying at something until they have resolved it. Faced with the task of getting food out of a specially constructed puzzle box, they will disregard all distractions. For a few minutes, that is their entire world. 


No wonder we still use the word ‘dogged’ to describe such tenacity.


Adopting the same “at all costs” approach as dogs might just make us better problem-solvers,’ O’Meara says.


Live in the moment


One of the most remarkable stories to come out of the recent Japanese earthquake concerned a group of children who had survived for days in the rubble of a building.


‘It later emerged that they had passed the time with games like counting drips of water and this focus on the present moment, rather than on what had happened to them, is what kept them going,’ says O’Meara.


This is exactly how dogs approach life. Chase always walks down the street with zeal and zest, stopping to sniff every rock, and plant like he has all the time in the world. What strikes me is how present he is in the moment. He walks with his ears back and his tail wagging.


As humans we tend to be preoccupied by the past and to worry about the future.  Chase makes me try to live in the here and now, inspires me to breaking my days down into many enjoyable and worry-free moments. After all, if we have good health, food and shelter, then everything else is a bonus.


Robert Michael True Success Plan Life






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