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All In, All the Time

I’ve written here before about our dogs Remy and Nugget. They provide us with endless joy and entertainment—and they are a constant reminder of the value of being present in the moment. There isn’t a better model of equanimity than Nugget when she lies in the sun and enjoys whatever passes by. I feel like I am learning some kind of lesson from both of them all the time. As much as I always admire Nugget’s ability to just be where she is, today I realized that I could also use a good dose of Remy’s enthusiasm. Whatever is going on, the guy is all in—all the time.

Why not focus on how happy that first cup of coffee makes me and go from there?

I understand that Remy is a dog, and doesn’t fully grasp the notion of full-on gusto, but I absolutely love the fact that everything in the world seems to interest him. Whether it’s a squirrel on the back fence, a friend of ours who has come to visit, a dog barking outside, a doorbell ringing on television, a piece of popcorn that’s dropped next to the couch, or our neighbor standing near our front yard—he loves every single thing there is to see, smell, hear, and be curious about. He has lots of gross things he’s interested in, too—none of which I’m eager to take on—but I decided today that I’m going to give his general attitude an honest try.

From the moment Remy wakes up, he’s in a good mood. He runs eagerly to the back door and then just as avidly back in when he has peed and surveyed the yard. He waits patiently and happily for breakfast, which is always exactly the same—a quarter cup of kibble with some canned green beans (no salt) and a few cooked carrots. He is as delighted to get it as if I were serving him Eggs Benedict. He then races back to the bedroom to lie on the lap of whichever of us didn’t get up to feed him. He is as thrilled to be there as if he hadn’t been allowed on the bed in months (even though he was there right before I put him in his own bed the night before).

His whole day is like this. On his morning walk, he greets every person we pass with fervor. He sniffs practically every inch of the canal path—now with the special feature of thousands of wet leaves to be inspected. He naps many times during the day, too—the kind of sleep I might have if I hadn’t slept in weeks. His worries don’t keep him awake and his to-do lists and other obligations don’t eat at him. He just rolls onto his side or back and he’s out. He’s happy when it’s dinner time, when we go out to get the mail, and when we relax on the couch at night and watch television. Even evil squirrels please him, probably because they remind him of his job to protect us all from potential marauders.

I don’t have any crazy idea that I could become as passionate and interested in the world as Remy is—partly because I, of course, know a lot more than he does. But, I can definitely take on just a little of his approach. Researchers say that if you smile more, it will actually make you happier. I doubt that Remy has read this advice, but I still think his approach has a lot going for it. Why not focus on how happy that first cup of coffee makes me and go from there?

I have a lovely life. For the most part, there’s nothing to keep me from approaching this life with the same interest and enthusiasm that Remy does. Just watching him makes me laugh and feel so grateful. I can’t imagine what emulating him could do.


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