8 things NOT to do if you want to be happy

Our great Pyrenees Bella  likes to gnaw on the drywall in our sunroom in the middle of the night
Our great Pyrenees Bella likes to gnaw on the drywall in our sunroom in the middle of the night

It’s been almost a year since I started this blog. I hope you’ve enjoyed reading my posts on Sundays, thinking more about what makes you happy and doing each week’s Happy Act.

After almost a year of happy acts, and being more aware of what makes me happy, I’ve also learned what doesn’t make me happy. Here is “the list”.

Eight things NOT to do if you want to be happy

  1. Offer to drive four 8-year olds to summer camp for an entire week
  2. Get a Great Pyrenees as a pet
  3. Go bathing suit shopping unless you’re a size 6 or less
  4. Leave your interior car light on at the Watertown airport while rushing to catch an early morning flight and coming home to a dead battery at 11 p.m. at night
  5. Hang out with negative people
  6. Pick white berries for your holiday wreath (I learned the hard way poison ivy has white berries)
  7. Wear nylons
  8. Challenge your kids to a farting or burping contest

This week’s #HappyAct is really easy—don’t do any of these things! Have a happy week!

Hug a dog

Girl hugging dog
Grace giving Bella a bear hug

There’s an incredible story circulating on the internet about a seven-year old German Shepherd in Italy and its devotion to its owner (watch this one-minute video).

It made me think, what makes us so devoted to our dogs and pets? I think the answer is simple. They are devoted to us, and like children, they give us unconditional love. They also instinctively know when we need comfort or companionship. Whether we’re laid up in bed sick with the flu, in tears after an emotional day, or curled up on the couch enjoying a coffee on a snowy Sunday morning, they are always there by our side. (Even now as I write this, I say Murphy’s name and he starts thumping his tail, raises his head, looks up at me with his big brown eyes and groans in contentment.)

Studies show that pet owners tend to be happier people. Pet owners exhibit greater self-esteeem, are more physically fit, less lonely, more conscientious and socially outgoing, and have healthier relationship styles. I swear that my father lived longer because of our old dog, Bailey.

Most hospitals or long-term care facilities have programs where they bring dogs in to visit with the residents, and there have been some inspirational stories about the positive effects dogs have with children with autism. From a practical standpoint, they are also one of the best home security systems you could ever have (I used to work for a home and property insurer, and I can unofficially tell you we’d rarely get claims of stolen goods from houses where there was a dog.)

Yes, dogs are incredible creatures.

This week’s Happy Act is to hug a dog (or cat if you have one). If you don’t have a dog, offer to take a neighbour’s dog for a walk, or better yet, drop in to your local animal shelter. Most animal shelters are looking for volunteers to help exercise their clients. And when you’re finished, don’t forget to give them a big hug and a pet. Leave a comment, what do you love about your pet?