There’s a science background to being healthy and happy.
Especially as one gets older.
It’s Jean’s birthday today and we are grateful for our lot. I’m 75 now and Jean is a few years younger. But more importantly we are so grateful to have met and, subsequently, fallen in love.
As well as Jean’s love in return we have our gorgeous dogs as well (not to count in addition the two horses, the two parakeets and the cat) and they reinforce the feelings of happiness that surround us.
All of which is an introduction to an article on The Conversation that caught my eye yesterday.
I’m afraid it doesn’t mention dogs but then again we dog owners know for sure how they benefit us humans.
Are you as grateful as you deserve to be?
November 26, 2019
By Richard Gunderman
Chancellor’s Professor of Medicine, Liberal Arts, and Philanthropy, Indiana University
As a physician, I have helped to care for many patients and families whose lives have been turned upside down by serious illnesses and injuries. In the throes of such catastrophes, it can be difficult to find cause for anything but lament. Yet Thanksgiving presents us with an opportunity to develop one of the healthiest, most life-affirming and convivial of all habits – that of counting and rejoicing in our blessings.
Research shows that grateful people tend to be healthy and happy. They exhibit lower levels of stress and depression, cope better with adversity and sleep better. They tend to be happier and more satisfied with life. Even their partners tend to be more content with their relationships.
Perhaps when we are more focused on the good things we enjoy in life, we have more to live for and tend to take better care of ourselves and each other.
When researchers asked people to reflect on the past week and write about things that either irritated them or about which they felt grateful, those tasked with recalling good things were more optimistic, felt better about their lives and actually visited their physicians less.
It is no surprise that receiving thanks makes people happier, but so does expressing gratitude. An experiment that asked participants to write and deliver thank-you notes found large increases in reported levels of happiness, a benefit that lasted for an entire month.
One of the greatest minds in Western history, the Greek philosopher Aristotle, argued that we become what we habitually do. By changing our habits, we can become more thankful human beings.
If we spend our days ruminating on all that has gone poorly and how dark the prospects for the future appear, we can think ourselves into misery and resentment.
But we can also mold ourselves into the kind of people who seek out, recognize and celebrate all that we have to be grateful for.
This is not to say that anyone should become a Pollyanna, ceaselessly reciting the mantra from Voltaire’s “Candide,” “All is for the best in this, the best of all possible worlds.” There are injustices to be righted and wounds to be healed, and ignoring them would represent a lapse of moral responsibility.
But reasons to make the world a better place should never blind us to the many good things it already affords. How can we be compassionate and generous if we are fixated on deficiency? This explains why the great Roman statesman Cicero called gratitude not only the greatest of virtues but the “parent” of them all.
Gratitude is deeply embedded in many religious traditions. In Judaism, the first words of the morning prayer could be translated, “I thank you.” Another saying addresses the question, “Who is rich?” with this answer: “Those who rejoice in what they have.”
Gratitude also plays an essential role in Islam. The 55th chapter of the Quran enumerates all the things human beings have to be grateful for – the Sun, Moon, clouds, rain, air, grass, animals, plants, rivers and oceans – and then asks, “How can a sensible person be anything but thankful to God?”
In his 1994 book, “A Whole New Life,” the Duke University English professor Reynolds Price describes how his battle with a spinal cord tumor that left him partially paralyzed also taught him a great deal about what it means to really live.
After surgery, Price describes “a kind of stunned beatitude.” With time, though diminished in many ways by his tumor and its treatment, he learns to pay closer attention to the world around him and those who populate it.
Reflecting on the change in his writing, Price notes that his books differ in many ways from those he penned as a younger man. Even his handwriting, he says, “looks very little like that of the man he was at the time of his diagnosis.”
“Cranky as it is, it’s taller, more legible, and with more air and stride. And it comes down the arm of a grateful man.”
A brush with death can open our eyes. Some of us emerge with a deepened appreciation for the preciousness of each day, a clearer sense of our real priorities and a renewed commitment to celebrating life. In short, we can become more grateful, and more alive, than ever.
When it comes to practicing gratitude, one trap to avoid is locating happiness in things that make us feel better off – or simply better – than others. In my view, such thinking can foster envy and jealousy.
There are marvelous respects in which we are equally blessed – the same Sun shines down upon each of us, we all begin each day with the same 24 hours, and each of us enjoys the free use of one of the most complex and powerful resources in the universe, the human brain.
Much in our culture seems aimed to cultivate an attitude of deficiency – for example, most ads aim to make us think that to find happiness we must buy something. Yet most of the best things in life – the beauty of nature, conversation and love – are free.
There are many ways to cultivate a disposition of thankfulness. One is to make a habit of giving thanks regularly – at the beginning of the day, at meals and the like, and at day’s end.
Likewise, holidays, weeks, seasons and years can be punctuated with thanks – grateful prayer or meditation, writing thank-you notes, keeping a gratitude journal and consciously seeking out the blessings in situations as they arise.
Gratitude can become a way of life, and by developing the simple habit of counting our blessings, we can enhance the degree to which we are truly blessed.
That reference to Reynolds Price and his challenges make one think. I have been fortunate that nothing really dreadful has happened to me; apart from my father’s death when I had just turned 12. I’m getting a little hazy in terms of certain memories but that’s an old age thing rather than an illness. But to go through what he did; I just don’t know the person that I am, in terms of how I wold react to that.
But to the general tone of the article, I would hope that I can get better and better.
For it’s splendid to cultivate that disposition.
One is to make a habit of giving thanks regularly – at the beginning of the day, at meals and the like, and at day’s end.
This is about a dog that lives near a golf course.
This was a story that appeared on The Dodo website in September. Unfortunately I can’t seem to republish the video nor the entry in Instagram but it is still a cute story and worth sharing with you all.
Friendly Dog Who Lives Near Golf Course Loves Begging For Pets
Loni Gaisford was out golfing with her family last Sunday at the Mick Riley Golf Course in Murray, Utah, when she saw something unusual by the fourth hole.
Golf balls were attached in a ring to the metal fence separating the green from a neighboring house. Gaisford decided to investigate, curious why someone would make such a strange display.
“When we pulled up to the tee box … we noticed the golf ball ring in the fence with a sign next to it,” Gaisford told The Dodo. “I walked over to read the sign thinking it was a memorial for someone.”
The sign read: “Hi! My name is River. I’m a 5 Y.O. female. When I find your lost ball, I will add it to my necklace. Good luck!”
Gaisford finally understood the hilarious meaning behind the golf ball ring — and then she spotted the dog from the photo, playing nearby.
“We noticed River was in the backyard with a toy,” Gaisford said. “[She] walked over to the hole in the fence but the toy was too big to stick her head through the window so she just let us rub her back.”
After Gaisford teed off, she returned to say goodbye to River. The dog suddenly dropped the toy and stuck her head through the “necklace” to receive a few head scratches
Gaisford posted the video to her Instagram later that night, and as the comments came in, she realized that River was something of a local celebrity. “Every time I play that course she never does that … Jealous,” one commenter wrote.
Another commenter couldn’t resist making a few golf puns: “What’s the best type of fence for a dog who lives next to a golf course!? A fence with a hole in one!”
When the video made it to Reddit, more golf lovers shared stories of their own special experiences with the pup: ”One day, I was at McRiley and the owner of that dog was walking her (no leash) and she jumped right into our cart and sat down,” la_fern72 wrote on Reddit. “She was super friendly.”
Gaisford couldn’t be happier that her video has reached so many people — including those who will never set foot on a golf course. “Meeting River brightened my day,” Gaisford said, “and I knew the internet would love meeting River as much as I did.”
Well I tried ever so hard to find a way of showing you the video, and unfortunately it is not on YouTube, so you are going to have to go across to the website to watch it. Sorry!
I was pondering that I really should return to sharing stories about dogs. After all this is a blog that is called Learning from Dogs.
Then I recently saw this story from Turkey. It’s about a stray dog and it is in Turkey and it’s from The Dodo so is republished with permission.
That did it!
Security Camera Catches Man Sharing Adorable Moment With Stray Dog
In the early hours of Saturday morning, Metin Can Şener was walking home along a street in Turkey when a figure emerged from the darkness in front of him.
It was a pup — his tail wagging eagerly at the sight of Şener approaching.
Şener had seen the dog before, but apparently only during the day; he often hangs out at Şener’s local coffee shop, where this random encounter at 2:51 a.m. took place.
“He comes to that street all the time,” Şener told The Dodo. “I always see him by the café.”
On this particular early morning, however, Şener and the dog became much better acquainted. As if compelled by the same joyful spirit upon seeing a familiar face on that empty street, the two of them reacted in the sweetest way: “We started dancing,” Şener said.
The adorable moment was captured on video.
Şener and the dog were passing strangers no longer.
“We became good friends,” Şener said. “I already have four dogs, so I couldn’t take him home.”
Fortunately, despite apparently living as a stray, the dog appears to be well-fed — perhaps having endeared himself to people in the area. Their random meeting this particular morning certainly had that effect on Şener.
Neither Şener nor the dog knew at the time that their heartwarming encounter had been caught on film. The owner of the café had evidently reviewed the security footage and shared it with Şener the next day.
And since posting it online, the happy scene has gone viral.
“I was surprised to see it had been caught on camera. I thought it was so much fun,” Şener said. “I always like to dance with animals like this. I love animals even more than people.”
The video on YouTube follows. But before I go let me comment about that last photograph, the one just above, because this is what having a dog in your life is all about!
Ninety-nine percent of the time it’s a match of dog and human.
Today, Tuesday, Jean and I went to visit one of the retirement homes in town. The woman who saw us at this particular one, Cindy, was a dog lover and had two dogs. But while we toured the home and saw this and that all three of us were much more interested in speaking about our dogs.
It came to mind while we were talking about our dogs, and remarking how we loved them and how life wouldn’t be the same without them, that dogs occupy a place in our hearts that is so special. Now it’s not unique; cats and horses to some are also special. (And there are some dog owners who don’t really endear themselves to their dogs.)
But there’s something about the dog that for most people is magical.
This came to mind when I was reading this post; something magical about the humble dog. Taken from The Dodo.
Frightened Shelter Dog Completely Transforms When She Meets Her New Human Brother
After Tricia Carter and her family lost their beloved dog Bailey back in November, it was hard to imagine another dog could ever take her place. But when Carter’s friend texted her pictures of a sweet pit bull/bulldog mix, just like Bailey, at their local shelter, she decided maybe her family was ready to adopt again.
The shelter didn’t know much about the dog’s past except that she’d passed through more than one shelter, and that she was likely used for breeding by her previous owner and cast aside once she was no longer useful. The poor dog, named Lola, seemed defeated as she came out to meet Carter, but Carter could tell that she was so sweet and just needed to find the right family to love her.
“She had a very quiet, calm nature at the shelter,” Carter said. “Didn’t really react one way or another to other dogs, seemed to hang her head for the most part.”
Poor Lola had already been adopted and returned to the shelter once before, and after meeting her, Carter knew she wanted to give her a chance. The official deciding factor would be if Lola got along well with her teenage son. Two hours later, Carter headed back to the shelter with her son — and as soon as the pair met, Lola’s demeanor completely changed. It was as if this was the person she had been waiting for all along.
“The moment she looked into his eyes, they both fell in love,” Carter said. “She had the biggest grin and it hasn’t gone away since.”
It was such a beautiful moment, and no one could believe how much the pair connected right away. Carter immediately made the adoption official, and sweet Lola couldn’t stop smiling the whole car ride home.
Lola arrived in her new home and settled in immediately, and slept the whole night with Carter’s son. The next day, her personality really started to shine through, and it was as if she knew she had finally found a place to stay forever.
To this day, Carter’s son is still Lola’s absolute favorite person, and she spends most of her time snuggled up with him. She also loves playing with the family’s other two dogs, and seems to feel more like a part of the pack every day. At the shelter, poor Lola could barely lift her head, but now she’s found exactly where she belongs, and she’s never looking back.
“She’s so happy and fun-loving — I can’t help but smile every time I’m around her,” Carter said. “No matter what her backstory might be, she’s a sweet girl who just wants to love, play and be loved.”
And there’s something more to this story of love and friendship – we can only guess at what the dog is thinking.
For sure this dog is very happy, and shows it, but for an animal that for years and years has bonded so closely with us we really don’t understand what’s going on.