Pets and happiness

Animals are such agreeable friends. They ask no questions, they pass no criticisms.
George Elliot

Humans have valued animal companionship since the beginning of time. Animals are valued in different cultures. In India, cows are considered sacred. In Ancient Egypt, cats were thought to be the protectors of the underworld. Today, in many American households, it is common to have a cat, dog, or other domestic animal as a family member. I have a dog myself, and I love her dearly!

As I was petting my dog today, I started to wonder if pets contribute to our levels of happiness? If so, how do they contribute to our happiness? I know I always have a sense of contentment and joy when I spend time with my dog (just like Zack and Michael feel happy to have Rover in their lives), but what is it about pets that make us happy?

Pets have many therapeutic benefits. They are brought to visit retirement homes because they bring the seniors joy and relieve their arthritis. Children with Autism enjoy the company of pets because they can interact with them on a social level that they find difficult to do with many humans. Studies show that animals provide social support for everyone, not just people who are dealing with health issues.

According to a study, conducted by McConnell et. al., pet owners exhibit the following qualities:

  • High self esteem
  • High levels of physical fitness
  • Experience less feelings of loneliness than non-pet owners
  • Are conscientious
  • Are socially outgoing
  • Have healthy relationships with family members, friends, and romantic partners
  • Are happier than non-pet owners
  • Feel a sense of belonging in the world

The type of pet that people own had no effect on the owners’ level of happiness. I encourage everyone to spend time with their animals, and if they don’t have one, go to their local shelter and adopt one!

Zack and Michael adopt a German Shepard who has special abilities in my novel, “Mr. Breeze”. You can buy it on on Kindle for only $0.99!

McConnell, A. R., Brown, C. M., Shoda, T. M., Stayton, L. E., & Martin, C. E. (in press). Friends with benefits: On the positive consequences of pet ownership. Journal of Personality and Social Psychology.

Category(s): Gratitude, Kindness
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