When I decided to quit my job and make my first cross-country trip, I could picture it perfectly: a mix of taking in beautiful mountain and water scenery, visiting monuments and museums, consuming unhealthy and fresh food alike, hiking through our national parks and walking through new cities. Transportation would be in my four-door sedan and accommodations in rented homes and motels. And right there, riding shotgun beside me, would be Reuban, my chocolate lab.
At less than a foot tall and under 25 pounds, Mr. Jackson might not seem like the powerhouse that he is in our family. His floppy ears and big brown eyes make him adorable, but it's the intelligence and sensitivity that are apparent through those eyes that have made him my constant, loyal and vital partner in caregiving for my parents over the past five years. As caregivers, we all need to build a caregiving team - no one can do this alone. But I couldn't have predicted the crucial role this four-legged team member would play. I can't imagine my caregiving journey without him.
In 1964, then New York Times reporter and later book author Gay Talese wrote a short profile of a man who had embarked on what seemed like a unique, exotic profession. Jim Buck walked other people's dogs - 30 or 4o of them a day - while their owners were at work.
Everyone wants to be happy - it's a no-brainer. But what is happiness? The Greek word for happiness is "eudaimonia" which means "having a guiding angel." In 1776, the Founding Fathers felt it important enough to mention the" pursuit of happiness" in the Declaration of Independence. By the 19th century, economists felt they could measure happiness in units of pleasure, but they learned that money could not buy happiness because a person with twice as much income as another was not necessarily two times happier. They learned that deep inner happiness was not measurable. Recently, AARP looked at measuring happiness on a three- point scale (very happy, pretty happy and not too happy) and other researchers have compared responses over time or among difference demographic groups or even countries. Trying to understand what makes people happy gives us an opportunity to help people achieve inner happiness and well-being.
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