The Gospel According to Tandy: Ten Lessons I’ve Learned from my Dog
Lesson Six: Everything is Awesome
If Tandy had a theme song it would be the theme from The Lego Movie. The minute Tandy walks into a room, goes outside, gets a new bone, or meets a new friend, it’s as though “Everything is Awesome” blares from every speaker in the neighborhood.
A week of rainy days? Awesome.
A stick? Score! AWESOME!
A bumble bee? New friend = awesome.
Going to the vet? More like Dr. Awesome.
Belly rub? Are you kidding me? Stupendously awesome!
Mashed potatoes, rawhide bones, or an ice cube? Awesome, awesome, and so totally awesome.
Tandy is the most consistently positive creature I know. Joy exudes from her. When Tandy is feeling happy, it’s hard not to notice it. A wagging tail, a lolling tongue, a white toothed grin can accompany anything from a long walk to spotting a rabbit to having her Nana say hello to her. No matter the situation, Tandy chooses to find joy in all of her circumstances, from the mundane to the controversial. (I’m looking at you, Snow in April. Tandy may have thought you were awesome. I was not so keen.)
This is not to say that she doesn’t have moments of quiet solitude or childlike pouting. Take a bone away from her or reprimand her in any way and you’ll see the shifty, puppy dog eyes. You’ll hear the chronic moaning and sighing that accompanies her “But, Mom!” tantrum of falling onto the floor and rolling around in angst. But on most days, Tandy actively chooses to find the happiness in her life. She chooses to celebrate her little victories, whether it’s witnessing the funny waddle of a duck or being fed a scrap of turkey from Christmas dinner.
Tandy reminds me daily that happiness is, in fact, a choice. It is our decision whether we live a positive existence or don’t. Joy is within us to accept or deny.
Let me tell you two stories.
I woke up early after a good night’s sleep. After waking up the dogs to take them out, I was greeted with kisses and snuffles on my face and neck. We were the only three awake on the lamp-lit street, save for the morning birdsongs that seemed to surround us.
I got a hot shower and put on my favorite springtime skirt. It’s cheerful and bright. Every time I looked down at it, it made me happy to see the bright pinks and oranges and yellows against the black background.
I munched on a bagel and some tea as I got into my car, the sun just peeking up over the mountains. The trees looked beautiful on the mountainside, so alive and green in the color of the rising sun.
I couldn’t wait to get to work and share the donuts I just bought with my students. It was their last class and I would miss seeing them every week.
My alarm clock tore me from the only good night of sleep I’ve had all week. It was 4:45 AM and the sun wasn’t even up yet and there I was, dragging the dogs out of bed to go out. Willy was so excited to see me, he peed on the floor which I had to clean up before I even had my first cup of tea.
The street was dark and cold. It’s May. Why do I need to be bundled up in a warm jacket in May?
When I put on my makeup, I saw a huge zit on my chin that couldn’t be covered up by concealer. My hair did not look good and my scalp has been so dry and itchy all winter.
I had to use a credit card to buy my students donuts because a lot of bills were coming out of my account this week. I’ve been afraid of overdrawing ever since I had to pay $90 in overdraft fees. When I handed the girl my card, it dropped and I had to back up my car and get out of it to give the card to the cashier.
After trying to take off my jacket, I pulled a muscle in my neck all before I had to teach my 8 AM class. I knew I couldn’t get a massage to help alleviate it or the pain in my lower back which had been bothering me for two weeks. Jesus, I was putting donuts on a credit card! How could I afford a luxury like a massage?
Both of these stories are accurate accounts of my Tuesday morning. All of the above facts are true, but put them together in different ways and you get two entirely different perspectives. When relaying these incidents to a friend or a co-worker, I could choose which events to include. My stiff neck and the Herman Munster walk that accompanied it was just as noticeable as my pretty, springtime skirt. The donuts were shareable, but so was my lament that I may never have a group of students as positive and hardworking as the group I just taught.
My narrative is my choice.
And so is yours.
There’s plenty of information out there about the law of attraction and the benefits of positive thinking. Personally, I have found that focusing on what I want rather than what I don’t want has yielded more positive results than when I focused on the negatives. I’ve read The Secret and books similar to it and I definitely believe there is some validity to the practice.
Whether you subscribe to the idea or not, what I would like to focus on is this: Happiness is a practice. It is a choice. It’s something that requires training akin to lifting weights or running a marathon. Hell, achieving happiness is more like training for a decathlon when you don’t even have sneakers or a sports bra!
There are so many hurdles that stand between us and living a positive life. Turn on the news if you don’t believe me. If the television shows where people treat each other poorly doesn’t alarm you, then the images of tornadoes, recording flooding, and terrorist bombings will.
I am not here to argue that the world isn’t scary. It is. It most definitely is.
But the world is also awesome. For every reality TV show where rich people inject the fat from their butts into their faces, there are videos of soldiers returning home to their families. For every celebrity photograph and the resulting trolls, there are photographs of lakes and rivers and waterfalls and canyons and stars. For every flat tire you have or cold you suffer from, there’s also a piece of chocolate to savor or sunset to enjoy.
It’s all about choice.
Suffering will always be there. People will leave us, whether through death or some sort of discord. Illness will happen and pain will be felt. You will get rejection letters, important people will forget your name, and dogs will pee on your floor.
But if you spend one day, one twenty-four hour period, and name all of the things you’re thankful for, you’ll begin to see that everything is pretty damn awesome.
For more lessons from Tandy, click: