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…
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.
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.
Express 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.