There’s a great meme about the difference between dogs and cats, describing how we think they see the world through fake diary entries. To me, they aren’t just about the difference between dogs and cats, but the difference between people who are happy and people who are not. Here I quote the meme in full:
The Dog’s Diary
8:00 am – Dog food! My favorite thing!
9:30 am – A car ride! My favorite thing!
9:40 am – A walk in the park! My favorite thing!
10:30 am – Got rubbed and petted! My favorite thing!
12:00 pm – Milk bones! My favorite thing!
1:00 pm – Played in the yard! My favorite thing!
3:00 pm – Wagged my tail! My favorite thing!
5:00 pm – Dinner! My favorite thing!
7:00 pm – Got to play ball! My favorite thing!
8:00 pm – Wow! Watched TV with the people! My favorite thing!
11:00 pm – Sleeping on the bed! My favorite thing!
The Cat’s Diary
Day 983 of My Captivity
My captors continue to taunt me with bizarre little dangling objects. They dine lavishly on fresh meat, while the other inmates and I are fed hash or some sort of dry nuggets. Although I make my contempt for the rations perfectly clear, I nevertheless must eat something in order to keep up my strength.
The only thing that keeps me going is my dream of escape. In an attempt to disgust them, I once again vomit on the carpet. Today I decapitated a mouse and dropped its headless body at their feet. I had hoped this would strike fear into their hearts, since it clearly demonstrates my capabilities. However, they merely made condescending comments about what a “good little hunter” I am. Bastards!
There was some sort of assembly of their accomplices tonight. I was placed in solitary confinement for the duration of the event. However, I could hear the noises and smell the food. I overheard that my confinement was due to the power of “allergies.” I must learn what this means, and how to use it to my advantage.
Today I was almost successful in an attempt to assassinate one of my tormentors by weaving around his feet as he was walking. I must try this again tomorrow, but at the top of the stairs.
I am convinced that the other prisoners here are flunkies and snitches. The dog receives special privileges. He is regularly released, and seems to be more than willing to return. He is obviously retarded. The bird must be an informant. I observe him communicate with the guards regularly. I am certain that he reports my every move. My captors have arranged protective custody for him in an elevated cell, so he is safe. For now …
The dog is representative of a happy person, while the cat is representative of an unhappy person. The dog views every experience positively and joyfully, declaring that every thing that happens is his favorite thing. The dog is an optimist. The cat, on the other hand, views every event negatively and imagines that everyone is out to get him.
Now, the dog in this story does not seem very bright, but you don’t actually have to be stupid to be happy.
We can choose to act like the dog or the cat.
When we have to do something we don’t want to do, we can find some way to make it more positive. Commuting to work is not my favorite thing, so I listen to scriptures, books on tape, or my favorite music, so I feel I’m getting something out of my commute.
When something bad happens, we can just accept that bad things happen sometimes, rather than assuming that someone, or even the universe, is out to get us. For example, I hate getting lost. And, since I have zero sense of direction, it happens fairly predictably. Usually, this is a very stressful experience for me, but I try to look at it positively. I tell myself well, at least I’m getting to know the area better, or, well, I’m having an adventure!
So that’s where happiness is really found. It’s found in what we tell ourselves. We can be optimistic or pessimistic. The important thing to note is that we choose it for ourselves.
Not to say I’m some sort of expert on happiness. I think of myself as an optimist with a (large) pessimistic streak. Sometimes it seems I can’t help but expect the worst! But I’m trying to tell myself positive things. Life is better that way.
Be the dog. Not the cat.