A special introduction from the author: Lessons From Lucy is about my dog, Lucy, and the things she has taught me. Lucy and I are both getting on in years — I’m 71, and she’s 11 — but while I’ve tended to become crotchety, Lucy has somehow managed to remain playful and happy, even joyful. So I decided to try to figure out how she does it, and to see if I could improve my own happiness by doing the things Lucy does, except for drinking from the toilet.
Excerpt from Page 89:
Mindfulness, according to its advocates, makes you
more relaxed, more at peace. Mindfulness training, which
includes meditation techniques, is said by many to reduce stress and make you healthier and happier.
So mindfulness sounds like a pretty good idea.
You know who’s really mindful, in her own way?
She is always in the present moment. She lives for
now. She doesn’t dwell on the past or worry about the
future. She definitely doesn’t overthink. She spends most
of the day in a serene, semimeditative state that I would
call Dog Snooze, but she’s always aware of what’s going
on around her, and the instant anything happens she is
right there, totally into whatever it is, intensely aware of
the sounds, the sights and of course the smells.
She accepts her feelings; she does not second-guess
herself. Sometimes these are not happy feelings: for example, when the man comes to take our
garbage, Lucy objects vociferously, because—she cannot believe we allow
this to happen—he is taking our garbage. But the instant
the man is gone from our driveway, he’s gone from Lucy’s
mind, and she’s on to the next moment, which usually
means back into Dog Snooze. She does not stress, and I
But what I really admire about Lucy’s mindfulness—
and here we are getting to the lesson for this chapter—is
the way it enables her to be such a wonderful companion. It’s a cliché, but only because it’s so obviously
true: nobody loves you the way your dog loves you. When you’re
with your dog, you may mentally be elsewhere, but your
dog is not; your dog is always right there with you. When
you’re gone, your dog is waiting for you to come back, so
it can be with you again. Because being with you makes
your dog happier than anything else.
I spend most working days at home, and Lucy is always close, moving from room to room as I do, waiting
to see where I settle and then finding a spot on the floor
a few feet away. When I walk in her direction, her tail
thumps the floor, a Geiger counter of happiness. When I
pet her, her entire body quivers with joy. When I talk to
her, she listens to me as hard as she can, staring at me
intently, head cocked, ears flexed, eager to pick up every
sound, especially if one of the sounds turns out to be
She’s not just near me; she’s with me. And being with
me makes her happy. It’s the simple pleasure of being in
the moment with somebody you love.