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.
Golden Retrievers have a “Soft Mouth”
While researching Golden Retrievers, I kept reading that they have a “soft mouth.” On You Tube, you’ll find videos of folks putting their dog’s mouth to the test by having them carry an egg.
Honey demonstrated her soft mouth recently.
We were waiting for Mike to pick up sandwiches at a local deli. It was hot so Honey and I headed over to the shadow of a tree. When we got there, we found a dozen tiny apples fallen from the tree.
Ahhh, play time. We spent a few minutes playing fetch with one of the apples. At the end of our game, there wasn’t a mark anywhere on the apple.
The soft mouth is the result of generations of breeding. And although Honey loves to play tug, she’ll never have jaws that support her while hanging from a tree. Some things are not within our power to change.
Nature vs. Nurture
Dogs and humans are a mix of nature (born that way) and nurture (raised that way).
But non-scientists in this country have strong opinions about how much we can change or improve ourselves.
Blame it on the myth of the self-made man. Americans are a sucker for a story about someone who came here with just the clothes on his back and made a life for himself (at least if they came here a few generations back; current immigrants have never been welcomed as warmly).
And if someone can remake himself in “olden days” why not now?
If you are misfortunate (or dumb) enough to read comments at mega websites, you’ll find that if you’re poor, fat, wrinkled, shy, or whatever else, it’s all your fault. You’re just not trying hard enough. All it takes is willpower and you can transform yourself into a new and better (whatever that means) person.
In an economy hammered by the recession, one sector keeps growing: self-help. In 2008, companies promoting self-improvement made $11 billion off us trying to change things about ourselves that probably didn’t need to be changed. Perhaps, things we couldn’t change even if we tried.
Born That Way (and OK with It)
Like a Golden Retriever with a soft mouth, some of us have strong traits. Maybe they’re genetic. Maybe they came from our upbringing. But they’re as much a part of who we are as floppy lips are to a Golden Retriever.
According to Scientific American magazine 90% of women have cellulite. Why aren’t the 10% of women who don’t have it trying to get it so they look more “normal?”
And I’ve heard some of my blogging friends lament their introversion (Should I boost an introvert’s blog by linking to it here? Or should I respect your shyness by not mentioning you by name?).
But what’s wrong with being introverted? Being the kind of person who thinks before she speaks is a good thing (and a skill I hope to learn some day).
Maybe it’s time to question whether everything can or should be “improved.”