What dogs can teach us about happiness.

Anyone who’s shared their life with that cheerful species known as canine has borne witness to their remarkable good humour. Dogs are happy. Sure, there may be a cranky fellow or a neurotic chick in the mix, but for the most part, they’re tirelessly upbeat.

Dogs are probably some of the happiest people you know. And they’re not people. Not technically.

Man’s best friend has a lot to teach his master about life. Here’s what I’ve learned from my pups (I have three, at the moment) about happiness:

Happiness is in the now.
This moment is all we’ve got, and dogs are all about it. They don’t ruminate in the past, worry about the future or ruin their present by hopping backwards or forwards in time. They live here, now. They’ve adopted the zen practice of mindfulness without even trying. Lucky ducks dogs.

Money can’t buy happiness.
Dogs don’t own anything other than an occasional tennis ball. Rich dogs aren’t happier than poor dogs. Dogs aren’t constantly seeking to acquire stuff. They’re not concerned with the brand of their dog food or the prestige of their pet-sitter or whether their collar is Swarovski-studded. Joy stems from someplace much deeper, and dogs are smart enough to know so.

Self-acceptance is everything.
Dogs don’t engage in constant self-comparison. A Doberman doesn’t long for a poodle’s curly hair; a chihuahua doesn’t envy a Saint Bernard’s hefty paws; a mutt doesn’t long to be pure-bred. The AKC might make these kinds of judgments, but the dogs don’t. Dogs accept themselves as they are — they embrace their unique physicality and make the most of the furry form they’re given. They lick, sniff, jump, roll, play and bask in the joy of being, no matter what they look like on the outside.

Happiness is about what we have, not what we don’t have.
Dogs with three legs, missing eyes, hell, even half a body are just as happy as any other. Deformity schmormity. They carry no burden of loss or self pity. Canines love life; they embrace their imperfections without a second thought or a backwards glance.

Complaining gets you nowhere.
I’ve never heard a dog complain. Have you? To be fair, the fact that they can’t talk *might* have something to do with it. Nonetheless, complaining isn’t in a dog’s disposition. They always seem to see the bright side, be it a bowl of food at an ungodly hour or splashing in puddles during a torrential downpour. They know the futility of complaining and the wisdom in being happy with what you have.

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