Unburied Nut from 3rd December 2006; "Thoughts on Happiness and Chasing After Puppies"

on Tuesday, July 08, 2008

Every once in a while, I uncover an old post that I feel could do with another brief moment in the sunlight. Many of these are my early posts which existed at a time when the Realm of the Lone Grey Squirrel was an extremely quiet place with virtually no visitors. Ah, the good ol' lonely days.

“Felicitas est parvus canis calidus”. This is Latin for “Happiness is a warm puppy.” It is actually a quote from the cartoon strip, Peanuts from the 1950’s. I’m not that old, but I probably came across it in my early teens and somehow that phrase has stuck with me all these years. It is clearer to me today, than all those facts on human metabolism that I spent months revising for my final university exams.

Happiness is a warm puppy. Is this statement true? How many of you would agree with it? The fact that I remember it so well through the flight of time must imply that it has struck a deep chord with me. The pursuit of happiness is enshrined in the American Declaration of Independence as one of the unalienable rights of the people. Honestly, there is a lot of pursuing happiness going on in the world today and it’s not just the Americans but everyone that’s doing it. But are most of us looking in all the wrong places? Might we finally find it in a warm puppy?

Singaporeans used to be told that they need to have the 5C’s in this life and this consideration should guide them in the choice of a life partner. The 5C’s has today increased to 7 C’s and are Cash, Car, Certificate (i.e. University degree), Country club, Credit card, Career and Condominium. (Ladies might even have the 8th C which is Carat, i.e. insist on a diamond ring). The idea is that happiness comes from wealth, prestige, elitism, superior intelligence (with a certificate to prove it), achievements at work and the best creature comforts at home. Singaporeans are also famous for not wanting to keep up with the Joneses. No, Singaporeans strive to be ahead of the Joneses and to rub the Joneses noses in it.

Before, Malaysian-Singaporean relationships deteriorate further, let me say that I use Singaporeans to describe a phenomena that is really spreading throughout much of the world and especially so in Asia. Happiness is cold hard cash, a cool reputation and a classy lifestyle. The pursuit of happiness as envisaged above lead many to put career and wealth ahead of family and friends. Fathers who work hard for their children’s future but do not have time to know their children and for the children to know them. Reminds me of a song called “Cat’s in the cradle” by Harry Chapin.

I have worked with native, jungle dwellers and been part of efforts to assimilate them into modern life so that they might have a better standard of living. While it is true that many will benefit from better health care and better schooling for their children, it is equally clear that they were very happy living in the ways of their ancestors in the jungle and transferring them out of the jungle into settlements has not brought them joy. Often, peaceful communities are torn apart by the introduction of money and the concepts of property amongst peoples who used to share the forests bounty with each other. Some of these projects have improved their economic situation but I really do not know whether it has brought happiness.

So, I return to “Felicitas est Parvus Canis Calidus”. I think it is a beautiful metaphor that all of us need to feel warm, secure and to have the feeling of loving and being loved. It has to do with people; friends and family. Happiness comes from being secure and content while surrounded by the mutual love and support of friends and family. If we are loved and supported for who we are, we do not need wealth or any other trappings to be happy.

So, Snoopy, I think you were right but it was not just because puppies are warm and cute. Perhaps you were more profound than you thought. Cat lovers, I can’t help you.


squirrelmama said...

LGS, thank you for an important reminder. There is so much truth in what you write. If only our economies were based on the puppy system instead of present monetary values, I do believe the rest of our values as human beings would fall nicely in line. I don't suppose happiness is a warm squirrel, but perhaps EXUBERANCE is a warm squirrel!

Odat said...

Keep It Simple......that's what it's all about....


Molly said...

All the fancy "C's" in the world can't give you the feeling you get from a warm puppy. Because you know the puppy cares nothing for your social standing, or your pedigree, or your expensive education, and your more expensive car. He loves you just because you're you [and ok, maybe because you scratch him behind the ears too!]We need to simplify, to remember what is really important. I'm glad you resurrected this, LGS!

blackcrag said...

"Happiness is a warm puppy."

I agree completely. As you know, I recently lost my family dog. I related some stories on his post of how he would wait for me to come home if I was out, or how he would search for me if I wasn't in sight.

My roommates have two dogs, an Airedale and a Schnauser. I enjoy coming home in the evening to their enthusiastic welcomes. I like getting up in the morning and have them run up to me to be petted.

Happiness is a warm puppy because pets, particularly dogs as they are more expressive, bring us out of ourselves, make us care for something beyond our daily woes, and help us leave our problems behind, if onlly for a while. And we need the break.

I have also found walking the dog is good thinking time, whether about something that's bothering me or nothing at all.

As you say, we all get too caught up in all this 'status' stuff; it is good to be accepted as you are by someone in the world, even if he is furry and four-legged.

Janice Thomson said...

Wise words my friend. Materialism has indeed taken the world by storm - and along with it are the consequences of crime, greed, power and unhappiness.
This reminds me of how the show "The Gods Must Be Crazy" started with a pop dropped into a loving community of bushmen that fought over it and turned into a warring community.

Jocelyn said...

The light you cast onto modern Asian culture--at least in some countries--is very interesting...and sad...to live under such hollow values.

Thanks for the re-airing.

Lone Grey Squirrel said...

Being accepted unconditionally by a squirrel would be quite the thing. You may have had that experience with your squirrels but unfortunately, squirrels can be a little stingy with the love for other mere human mortals! :)

Precisely. Peace.

Lone Grey Squirrel said...

That scratching behind the ears does both species good. Ahhhh.

your reply from the heart is worthy of being a post in itself. I am sorry about your recent loss but I imagine that is all the more why it is so real to you at the moment. Unconditional acceptance. That's what all of us really want.

Lone Grey Squirrel said...

The cult of the leader type of communism is in dramatic and possibly final decline but in its place the world is succumbing to the insidious power of rampant consumerism. The latter may turn out worse than the former. Some notable politician said recently that "Wealth is not the solution to poverty but wealth (for some) is causing poverty'"

Unfortunately, for many in Asia, the pursuit of happiness and security is the same as the pursuit of wealth. While some countries like Singapore are beginning to realise that it results in an uncaring society and have taken some actions to reverse the tide, Chinese by the millions in China are only just getting the opportunity of exposure to the open market system and are quick to fall into this trap.

Joyce's Ramblings said...

Less money, less things and a pet to love me and family I see once in awhile. No "C"s there but I am happier now than a few years back. I still lose my cool once in awhile but life is good.

Dr.John said...

Now that was a post worth repeating.
I never believed that money equalled happiness. If it di why do those that have it seem to live such miserable lives?

Marja said...

Oh bagger i don't have a dog and also not many C's I did grow up in a family with all of that stuff but they indeed had no time to be happy.

Lone Grey Squirrel said...

It's good that you are happy and life is good where you are at now. It does seem you have what you need.....that and the secret of contentment will give us happiness.

dr. john,
If only some benefactor would give me a lot of money so that I can prove definitively that money can't buy happiness! (I'm joking of course. I fully agree with you).

Lone Grey Squirrel said...

Sorry about you're not having a dog. They are the best at unconditional love. However, in a pinch, you could try a squirrel or in your case, a possum!

Josie said...




That is the cutest thing I have ever seen. You're right, stuff doesn't make us happy. The best things in life are free - love, laughter and a warm puppy, milk breath and all. :-)

meggie said...

A wise & thoughtful post LGS. I often think that by imposing our 'western, greedy' ways upon those happy people, we ruin their lives forever. It is one of my pet peeves, that arrogant 'white' people think their values are superior to the Aboriginals in Australia, & other lands of course.

the walking man said...

Good thought squirrel. yet in my world it is best to never feel to secure. The feeling of security breeds complacency and complacency can easily lead to very bad circumstances.

Pam said...

Oh my goodness LGS.We lead by example and what messages are adults giving little children by indoctrinating with a mantra of "cold hard cash,a cool reputation and a classy lifestyle".There must be many of these little people who long to be loved and supported for who they are.As teachers, my partner and I see the results when this greed indoctrinaton is finally imbedded, and it is not a pretty sight.

Anonymous said...

Absolutely. And what a fabulous photo of that monkey hugging the pup!

Marja said...

Thanks for the tip great squirrel I will try a possum. I've got an award waiting for you Mr Squirrel

Lone Grey Squirrel said...

tonight I watched TV news cover the long lines queuing for the new i-phone. It would appear some people find happiness in electronics.

It is tough to know what is the right thing to do. Modern living can bring benefits like better health but it also brings unhappiness to these aboriginal peoples. Perhaps the best thing is to listen to what they want.

Lone Grey Squirrel said...

In a sense, I understand what you mean.....that is, there is no real security in this world. What ever security we think we have could disappear like mist in an instance. Yet even then, God is our security.

We are failing our children, leaving them with a poisoned environment and a sick society.

Lone Grey Squirrel said...

Thanks. Unfortunately, I can't claim credit for the photo.

Tell me how the possum turns out. And thanks for the award. Much appreciated.

Claire said...

You are preaching to my choir Squirrel! Happiness has never been about material possessions for me.

Urban Animal said...

Great post, I enjoyed reading it.

I used to have a saying on my messenger: "money doesn't bring happiness but it's easier to cry in a Porshe than in a Hundai" We all are materialistic to a certain degree. But I do think that how you value it determines your level of happiness.

I also agree that feeling loved and secure give you happiness. And yes, having an exhuberant dog welcome you, having your partner hugging you and asking about your day are things that add so much to your life.

A cat can do these things, of course, in their own special way :) my cat talks to me, ask me about my day, wakes me up in the morning. And sometimes, not often, she gives me that special loving and the world is good.

leslie said...

'Felicitas est parvus canis calidus' was the extent of my Latin!
Oh, and we used to say 'semper ubi sub ubi', too.

I am a die hard Snoopy fan.
Used to say 'cowabunga' alot, too.
Snoopy said it way before Bart Simpson said it!

Related Posts Widget for Blogs by LinkWithin