Choosing to be Happy – The Example of Gigi
The winter of 20013/2014 was brutal in Chicago. We suffered several enormous blizzards and two blasts from the bone-chilling polar vortex. We were blessed to have a warm home, plenty of food and some sturdy shovels. But at the same time, a little dog named Gigi was on the streets of Aurora, IL, fighting for her life.
Gigi would eventually teach us an important lesson about choosing to be happy.
It was 20° below zero on February 3, 2014 when animal control was alerted to a stray dog in distress. They saved her and turned her over to The First Step Rescue. The kind, loving people at the rescue service quickly realized that the little dog was pregnant, in labor, and in terrible pain. They rushed her to a skilled and compassionate
When she was released from the hospital, one of her puppies had survived. She was too weak to eat, but had to nurse her baby. Her foster-mother fed her by the spoonful. It was then that she noticed th
veterinarian who had to perform a complicated, dangerous C-section. The doctor realized that the puppies were too large for her to birth naturally. At the moment she was turned over to The First Step Rescue, the little dog was 12 hours from death. She would never have survived labor on her own, let alone in 20° below zero weather on the streets.
at the little dog always wagged her tail and appeared happy and grateful, despite being in terrible pain. They gave her the name “Gigi.” It was a sort of acronym – GG standing for “Good Girl.”
Gigi Gaining Strength and Choosing to be Happy
As Gigi slowly gained strength, everyone came to recognize that she was choosing to be happy. Her tail was in constant motion. Anyone who came close to her face was likely to get quite a licking! Barely able to stand, she cared with great gentleness for her puppy
and constantly exuded joy as she worked through the pain. She might have chosen to be fearful. She might have chosen to complain about her pain and disorientation. Instead, Gigi was choosing to be happy. She let her foster family know that she was not only willing to accept their love, but to return it in spades.
Eventually her puppy grew and was happily adopted. He is now twice her size and has her personality. Shortly after he was adopted, we began the process of adopting little Gigi. We already had one rescued Bichon but the time was right for us to bring a new dog into our lives. All of us have been transformed by the incredibly positive personality of the dog who had been 12 hours away from death only a few months earlier. Gigi offers love unconditionally to everyone. To see her today, you would never believe that she had been an abandoned stray trying to survive the harshest winter in many decades alone, pregnant, and on the streets.
Choosing to be Happy in Hard Times
All of us have to overcome difficulties in our lives. Some people are given an enormous a burden to carry. My friend, Marge, grew up in a dangerous, violent home. She has endured more pain than almost anyone I know. She has watched family members suffer terribly and has ended up raising her granddaughter. She and her granddaughter are choosing to be happy. They don’t complain about their difficult circumstances. They don’t complain about money, family members, or hardships. Instead, they offer kindness to all. They are choosing to be happy. Like Gigi.
Happiness is a choice. Our former first lady, Barbara Bush, watched her little daughter Robin die of leukemia. When asked by a friend how she managed to maintain such an upbeat personality, Mrs. Bush said, “You are going to live your life and be miserable. Or, you are going to live your life and be happy. But either way, you are still going to live your life.”
The other night we noticed that Gigi was limping. Somehow she had hurt her paw. We rushed her to an emergency clinic. After treating her with great tenderness and skill, the doctor said to me, “This is one of the sweetest dogs I have ever met. Even in pain, she is just filled with love.” Fortunately, the injury turned out not to be terribly serious. Gigi didn’t like the cone she had to wear and she definitely missed going for her long walks every day. But she never missed the chance to give anybody a kiss and a wag of her tail. She couldn’t control the pain on her own. But she could control her attitude. She was choosing to be happy.
Gigi, like my friend Marge
and her granddaughter, recognize that life is often unfair, painful, and difficult. But by choosing to be happy, they use their optimism to find the good in every situation, express gratitude, and celebrate every good thing that happens, no matter how small. It’s a lesson we all need to learn and relearn. We can’t control circumstances. But we can control our attitude and reactions. Choosing to be happy will make even the most difficult circumstance easier to endure.
It has been said that laughter is nothing more than emotional chaos remembered in tranquility. No matter what your circumstances are today, follow the example of Gigi by choosing to be happy. It will never make anything worse and it very well might make things better.