A few Sundays ago, we decided to give Cowboy the BEST.DAY.EVER. and I just have to tell you...it impacted me in BIG ways I had not anticipated.
I think it all started when I was rounding up the family for a hike. The leaves had turned here and it was too beautiful outside to be inside...or grocery shopping.
My daughter asked if Cowboy could come. And to be totally honest, the last thing I wanted was to be carrying a child on my back AND holding Cowboy's leash.
I knew I SHOULD take Cowboy....so I told her he could come if she held his leash.
She told Cowboy he was going to have the "BEST DAY EVER!" And this slowly turned into our theme for the entire day.
We took him for a LONG hike. (click the "read more" link to see pictures of people hiking with NO PANTS)
Some of us wore pants.
We spread out our picnic blanket after the hike and gave Cowboy the crusts of our sandwiches.
We thought about what Cowboy likes, and he likes people. Ok, we also took into consideration the FREE glass of wine waiting for us at Chandler Hill Vineyards as a part of our membership.
We headed to the wineries. Wineries here in Missouri are more like restaurants on beautiful land with house-made wine. I took uber-friendly Cowboy off his leash by the vineyards and he made no less than 80 new friends. He looked so HAPPY! He was literally frolicking with a huge dog-smile on his face.
Giving Cowboy the best day ever felt so good, it united us as a family with a common goal, it was fun, and was so cheap ($3 at the winery in tip money and $13 at the ice cream place).
I found myself seeing and appreciating things through our dog's eyes. I started scanning the world for the positive instead of thinking about the negative (mostly my to-do list).
I felt more appreciation for the beautiful day and amazing scenery than I usually do. I felt more connection and positive feelings for the people (even strangers!) who surrounded us. I even got teary just talking to my husband about how great of a dog he is as we watched him run with our kids down the hill by the vineyards. I was really, unintentionally, focusing on gratefulness.
And all of this really got me thinking, If you have the resources to give your dog the best day ever...you probably have everything you need to give yourself the best day, too.
And research on happiness agrees. Most of us assume that our outside world is predictive of our happiness levels; that happiness is on the other side of success, completion, or more. This formula is broken and backwards. Actually 90% of happiness is dependent on how your brain processes the world and only 10% is based on what's in your world.
Nothing UBER-fantastic happened on this day; we weren't at Disney or on the beach. But it was seriously one of the best days with my family I can remember.
Ways to RETRAIN YOUR BRAIN for HAPPINESS
1. Gratefulness: write down 3 things you're grateful for everyday
2. Write thank you notes more
3. Create a meditation practice
4. Exercise moderately for 30 minutes per day 5 days per week.
5. Perform random acts of kindness
Give yourself the best day ever, you already have all the ingredients.
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