By Deana Luchia
My dog Harry is a little one-eyed Bichon Frise. Despite being kept for seven years in terrible conditions on a puppy farm, Harry is always happy. This is some of what I’ve learnt from him:
Live in the moment. Harry, like all dogs, doesn’t waste any time worrying about the past. He lives very firmly in the present because he knows that it’s NOW that matters. So I’ve stopped worrying about what happened yesterday or what I said or did years ago. Instead, I focus on making today the best, happiest day I can.
Take more naps. Harry naps a lot: After long walks, after a busy day, after a meal and when nothing much is going on. It’s a way to recharge. It’s a chance to wake up and start over. Instead of trying to cram a hundred activities into one day or working through ever lengthening to-do lists, I’ve learnt to take my cue from Harry and incorporate more naps into my day.
Love hugely and be hugely loved. Harry may be pint-sized but there’s nothing diminutive about his love: He throws himself at me each and every time I walk through the door, even if I’ve been gone for mere seconds. He’s always ecstatic to be with me. Feeling loved like this never fails to make me happy and I’ve learned that it’s the only way I want to love and be loved.
Let it go. Harry never sulks. Not ever. He doesn’t waste a second of his day holding grudges or plotting how to pay someone back. If something doesn’t go his way, he just shrugs it off and carries on being his happy self. When I do the same, it’s fantastically freeing.
Make time to play. Unlike humans, dogs never consider themselves too old to play. Harry’s nine, which is well past middle-aged for a dog, and always makes time in every day to chase his own tail, to run with me through the house, to dance on the rug...all just for the fun of it. And now I do the same. I run down hills, I skip and hula-hoop, I make snowmen and splash through puddles, because I’m 48, because it’s fun and because I can.
Go for more walks. Harry is thrilled to go for a walk: All that space, all those smells, all that fresh air. He runs giddily up and down the hallway at the appearance of his coat or lead. Walking is an instant mood enhancer. Whether I have to don wellies or sunglasses, being outside, walking through trees, or across a park or by a river, is always instantly uplifting. EVERYTHING feels better after a walk.
Have an adventure. Harry is a huge fan of the new. Getting in the car and going somewhere different – having an adventure – makes him beam with happiness. It works for me too. Every couple of months we set off to find a new beach or a walk we’ve never done in places we’ve never been before. Sometimes I find a dog-friendly hotel and we stay for the night. It’s exhilarating exploring somewhere new. It always feels like I’ve been away for a week, rather than a few hours.
Spend time with your real friends. Harry likes every dog he meets but he’s good friends with just a select few, dogs that make him dance and bounce on the spot with joy. He is never too busy to hang out with these friends. And so I make time too, at least once a month, to catch up with the people who make me laugh, the friends who don’t judge, who cheer me on and make me feel loved.
Know you are fabulous. Harry doesn’t give a second’s thought to what other dogs think about his hair or his collar or whether he has had a productive day or how many friends he has. He knows he is utterly fabulous exactly how he is. And I’ve learned to be more Harry-like. Who cares if my hair is wild, my socks are mis-matched, my productivity levels have plummeted again? I’m fabulous, just as I am.
Choose to see the positive. Nothing ever brings Harry down. My little dog sees the happy side of everything. A storm means no walk but more cuddles on the sofa. Bath time means he gets to run around drying himself on warm towels. There’s a positive in everything for me too if I look hard enough and that’s what I try to do every day. I may not yet be as successful at this as Harry, but I’m a work in progress and I will get there soon.
Happy as Harry is a guide to human happiness. With Harry’s tips and advice on everything from dating to work-life balance, from parenting to goodbyes, Harry can help you find happiness in your daily life.