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On Charles and Happiness

Img_1196_1                                     I pondered having another contest: $100 for whoever could guess what happened to Charles’ foot. Img_1193_1But I promise you, unlike the last contest, which ended in 24 hours, this one would go on for quite some time and involve me answering a slew of e-mails each day, and no one would win. That’s no fun for anyone.

The answer is: He bent his pinky nail all the way back and his quick (the vein in the middle of the nail) came out and is exposed. I couldn’t figure out what the red, bloody thing was, and the nail had flipped back and was more-or-less in place. Yet the vein was out for all the world to see, and if I so much as looked in its direction, Charles flinched in pain. I couldn’t get anywhere near it. And he couldn’t walk on it.

When the vet told me what it was, she added that it was extremely painful and would have to be wrapped for about a week, during which time he shouldn’t go running (not that he could). My poor, handsome boy! He walks at a glacial pace, limping and sometimes tripoding, and it’s just heartbreaking. He’s desperate to run, and I’m sure if I let him he would try and injure himself further. The upside is that the visit was under $100. That’s a new low for me.

Charles licks his bandage (the tape on it says "ouch") all day long, and anyone with a dog knows that for some reason, the licking sound is nauseating for people. And I can’t escape it because he follows me (slowly) wherever I go, trying to get me to puke up my morning green drink, which needs no help upsetting my stomach.

Here’s some trivia: When he stops licking it, it’s no longer bothering him. If the bandage bothered him he’d try to rip it off. When the licking stops, I can remove the bandage. Who knew?

How does Charles’ excruciating pain relate to Happiness? Rather circuitously.

Dr. Sanjay Gupta, whom my husband adores and refers to as (in an Indian accent) "The Gupta," did a special called Happiness and Your Health. We were both interested in the show because we are meditators (Transcendental Meditation), and are acutely aware of the effects of meditation on the brain and on mood. I’m also interested because I support  the Mind and Life Institute, which studies the effects of Buddhist meditation on the brain (I also do some Buddhist meditations).

The Gupta reported some fascinating facts:

  • People who have children are not happier than people who don’t.
  • Happiness may be far more genetically determined than environmentally (twins separated at birth are always handy for studies like this).
  • Money doesn’t buy happiness.
  • You can become a happier person (and this is gonna sound ridiculous) by surrounding yourself with things/people/animals that make you happy.

This is where Charles comes in (and Violet and Emily). They make me happy. I smile every time I look at them, and I can barely walk by them without stroking them or kissing them. I’m home all day, usually in my pajamas, and I’m in a constant state of bliss.

If you’re miserable, you can change that by changing your habits. If you can’t adopt an animal from a shelter, volunteer to be the shelter’s dog-walker or cat-petter. Stepping outside yourself, particularly into the company of anyone who is needy, is the best prescription for sadness.

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