The Puppiness Project – Don’t Just Be Thankful. Show It.

Gretchen Rubin wrote in The Happiness Project about the year she spent “test-driving the wisdom of the ages, the current scientific studies, and the lessons from popular culture about how to be happy.” The Puppiness Project is my attempt to learn the same from Honey, my Golden Retriever.

As Americans prepare to celebrate Thanksgiving this week, I’ve been thinking about gratitude.

And I’m wondering what I can learn about it from Honey the Golden Retriever.

If you’re happy and you know it, be a dog

Golden Retriever running at the dog park

I'm so happy to be at the dog park, I can hardly contain my joy. Thank you!

Honey is a demonstrative  pup.

When she’s happy, you know it. When she’s frustrated, you know it.

I don’t know if dogs experience gratitude the way humans do. But I think they show appreciation of things that are meaningful to them.

When Honey shows her appreciation, she really shows it.

Scratch Honey’s butt and she’ll display a look of pure, puppy rapture. Give her a big smile and she’ll dance and frolic like you are the best person in the whole world. Throw Honey a stick and she’ll bounce back to you with her tail expressing her joy.

Gratitude makes people happier

I don’t know which topic is more popular online—making money or being happy.

Considering how many people think that making money will make them happy, it might not matter.

But I have seen a lot of research over the past few years on how to become more happy. Including news that expressing gratitude can increase your happiness by 25%.

The sad thing about the study is that the research subjects expressed their gratitude by making a list. They didn’t have to share it with anyone so the only recipients of the resulting happiness were the people in the research study. And possibly the researchers who now had something interesting to publish.

Sharing gratitude

But wouldn’t it be better to not just feel gratitude but to share gratitude with others? Why make one person happier when you have the potential to make two people happier?

That’s the lesson I need to learn from Honey—to be more expressive with my gratitude.

It’s hard. I’m not a very demonstrative person, or at least not in anything meaningful.

I get so drawn into what I’m working on that I lose track of the people around me. I have to work very hard to remember that not everyone shares my “well of course we’re going to work our butts off for absolutely no reason at all except for our own pride” attitude. And that some people need a little thanks to keep them going.

Expressing gratitude like a Golden Retriever

I’m going to try doing it doggy style for a while. No, not that doggy style. Get your mind out of the gutter.

I mean I’m going to try to be more expressive, like Honey.

It will be hard. I’m not nearly as cute as Honey is. And I don’t have an expressive, floofie tail.

But I’ll try to surprise people with my gratitude instead of surprising them with my lack of it.

And if you came here today and read this piece all the way to the end, thank you.

Monday Mischief Blog HopThank you to Alfie the Entelbucher for inviting us to join in the Monday Mischief blog hop even though Honey is rarely mischievous. It’s a fun chance to see what everyone else is up to. Check it out.


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  1. I want to thank you for your blog, especially the Puppiness Project. It is so well written and always makes me think…and smile. Honey is certainly a wonderful example for anyone to follow.

  2. I want to thank you for bringing a smile to my face, even though my mind WAS in the gutter. 😉

  3. Showing gratitude is something that I have always tried to do, but lately I think that I have slacked a bit, especially with the people that are closest to me. I just assume that they know by now that I am thankful. I need to work on this!!

    Wonderful post today, thank you for the reminder to show some more gratitude, doggie style of course:))

  4. Golden retrievers are just the happiest. I’ve taken to calling Tahsis “Happy” and “Smiley” instead of the usual “Weiner Mobile”.

  5. We should all remember to live more like our dogs do. They are so happy for everything.

  6. I’m so embarrassed! I didn’t mean to be in the hop 3 times! Egads? Anyone know how to reduce my participation down to one? Though I do like the pic of Danny Quinn….LOL.

  7. Thanks for writing this. I have been having a tough time lately so I need all the positivity I can get! Your happiness posts help remind me of what is important.

  8. Hi There,

    So glad Honey is having such a fun time – us Dogs are great at expressing our happiness – I have a big fluffy tail just like Honey, well, actually I am all over fluffy – I love to wag my tail – I feel bad for humans cos they don’t have a waggy tail like us!!

    Glad you’re all having fun,

    Your pal Snoopy :)

  9. I think I have the opposite problem: I am so effusive in my expressions of gratitude that I make people uncomfortable :) It’s another reason I love dogs–they are never put off by the intensity with which I kiss their noses and thank them for having such extraordinary paws.

    I do find that my thank-yous contribute most to my own well-being–and maybe that of others?–if they are suffused with the sense I have of gratitude to the universe for all the intangible, amazing things that it surrounds me with every day. Thanks for the great reminder!

  10. I love how dogs wear their emotions on their tails. I’m grateful for his daily reminder to show affection and love with gusto. You’re right, we should all do it doggie style ;0)

  11. So true! We can learn a lot from our pups! Honey is such a beautiful dog.

  12. Mike Webster says:

    MY mind is STILL in the gutter. Hope springs eternal.

  13. Followed the link on the hop and came over to say “Hi”. Very nice post and something to think about.

  14. This is something that I think is very important! I think I just need to remember to draw on that well of gratitude that I have when I begin to feel frustrated and stressed. It’s easy to say when you’re not in the midst of it, but it’s much harder to remember to put into action when you need it.

  15. Having had the opportunity to feel a lot of gratitude lately, I can share that it does indeed overwhelm you and make you humble. I can’t say happy yet, but I hope to soon. I like the idea of showing gratitude doggy style – the not so naughty kind. :)

  16. Tis true!! My dogs make me a more compassionate person. I try to live up to their expectations of being a better person everyday. In other words more dog like.

  17. Thanks for reminding the world to thank the world. 😉 Honestly, I’ve never had a problem expressing gratitude. Now would someone teach that attribute to my ungrateful kids???

  18. I’m going to join the crowd and thank you for all of these Puppiness Project posts. I’m commenting AND increasing my own happiness at the same time. :)

  19. Dogs are so good at living in the moment :) Thanks for all of your Puppiness Project posts!!

  20. Gratitude is something I take for granted and truly need to work on. I truly believe my pups help me with this. Your Puppiness Project posts are wonderful. : )

  21. Excellent idea- I’m in, too!