The Puppiness Project – Jump for Joy

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.

Starting out as a really geeky kid, I developed a bad habit the cooler I got. I became so good at the “bored-out-of-my-mind-I-am-way-too-cool-for-this” attitude that I forgot to just have a good time. (The really sad thing is that for all that attitude, I never got to be very cool at all.)

So the beautiful, hand-designed sign my husband made for my door this Valentine’s Day that makes me smile every time I look at it? “Gee, Honey, that’s nice. Thank you.” Instead of “Wow, that is the best present ever. Thank you, thank you, thank you.”

Golden Retriever in Snow

I'm having so much fun, my back legs can't even keep up.

Honey is never cool about anything she likes. If she sees a stranger walking toward us on the sidewalk, the front paws start to dance a little, the tails begins to wag. Soon, all four paws are bouncing off the ground and the tail is wagging enough to generate electricity for the entire eastern seaboard. She cannot contain her joy. And that’s for someone she’s never met before!

Recent studies have found that if you pretend to smile, you can actually make yourself happier. I wonder if I’ve done the opposite and made myself less enthusiastic by pretending to be so.

So it’s time for me to take a lesson from the Book of Golden Retriever. I’m going to really show my enthusiasm and stop pretending I’m cool. And who know, maybe I’ll get just a little taste of Honey joy.

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  1. Dogs have so much to teach us. If they can be so happy over a piece of dried liver, we should be able to show appreciation for what is given to us.

  2. Very true Pam! What a great post to remind us humans to have the same attitude, to stop and sniff the roses.

  3. Those “recent experiments” actually started in the 1800s with William James, widely credited as the “founder” of modern psychology in America. He used to spend hours practicing smiling in a mirror to mask his depression, and eventually he became as happy as he looked! (Disclaimer– I am not a licensed therapist, don’t sue me if this method does not work for you!)

    It’s hard to change our inherent nature, or even ingrained habits. Baby steps, Pamela, baby steps, so you don’t take on behaviours that feel unnatural and are eventually abandoned. Start with hugging– physical contact is good for the body as well as the soul! Jumping for joy can come later! :)

  4. It is absolutely true. Forcing yourself to smile even when you feel like screaming actually does help. I discovered that after too many years working in the restaurant industry. After a little while, I really did feel more cheerful. But then again, that may have been due to the increase in tips. 😉

    While I don’t like to fake emotions I don’t feel, I think you have a good point. I am still stuck in that “want to be cool” rut a lot of the time myself. But sometimes, even if it is just for something small, I let myself do the happy dance.

  5. I think it is definitely worth giving a try to! I need more smiles in my life right now, and I know that the dogs are always happy to provide them for me, but I need to remember how to produce those for myself at times. It seems like such a simple thing, but it’s not easy.

    I needed to read this one today! Thank you! :)

  6. ok, time for another little secret.

    when i first moved to my neighbourhood, i was determind to be little ms friendly. so i endorphined my face big time and smiled at everyone, from the mad cat lady down the road to the postie and garbo. i think i scared everyone around me alright. i didn’t make many friends at all, it’s hard to make contact with averted sidelong looks.

    so i duly went back to my grumpy disagreeable self. and VOILA! now, everyone wants to talk to me because i look like a killer and they want to get on my good side. or maybe, just maybe, it’s because they see a giant fluffy dog by my side that looks like a polar bear.