"I am still determined to be cheerful and happy, in whatever situation I may be; for I have also learned from experience that the greater part of our happiness or misery depends upon our dispositions, and not upon our circumstances."
- Martha Washington
- Martha Washington
In my life, there is one thing that I have been called that I relish more than any other compliments that have come my way. It was not being called “kind” or “nice” or “hard-working. “ Instead one day my grad school classmate in passing said, “You are my perpetual ray of sunshine.” That was the most meaningful compliment I have ever received.
It does not come easy being “a ray of sunshine.” It takes a lot of effort, especially on days when I don’t get enough sleep or have done poorly in work or in school. However, partly by nature and partly by sheer will, I am as cheerful as I can be. I smile, keep my eyes wide, laugh, listen and try to be kind no matter how I feel on the inside or what someone is saying or doing on the outside. I love it when people I was speaking to leave with a smile on their face and spring in their step. This feeling helped me find my interest in counseling.
I wasn’t always this way. In high school my main goal was to get the best grades possible, so I didn’t worry so much about what kind of vibe I was giving people. Somehow though, I began to realize the comfort friends took in my positive attitude, my being on top of things, and how I was always just a little bit clueless, so as to provide a good laugh. I never realized I was doing it, but I always noticed other peoples’ negative attitudes (that I couldn’t stand) and the fact that whenever I was having a bad day, people were annoyed at me. As if I was never allowed to be down in the dumps? “No,” they said, “You are the one that pulls all of us together!” (They never said it in those exact words, but I took their looks to mean that). I hated the look on my friend’s faces when I was not myself. I tried with all my might to never have them look at me like that and to keep myself bright and cheerful. Of course that never completely happened, but it made me check my attitude at the door more often than not - no promises when the 5th million person asks for a piece of gum from my stash, though.
I learned quickly that being happy was so much more fun than being mean or sad. Even when I was sad on the inside, or in a “funk” as I call them, I tried to bring myself out of it whenever I was around people. Even throughout college, I still loved when my friends brought up stories of things I did or said that made them laugh. I like to think that I brought them joy during those years, and hold a special place in their heart. It makes me feel unique and loved.
Needless to say, I believe that while some people are naturally more cheerful than others, happiness is a choice. You can choose to be happy even when you feel bad, even when it is the hardest thing to do. There is always something to complain about (believe me, I know). But there is so much more to be grateful for. So forget that your waiter messed up your order- enjoy the people you’re with for that meal. Forget that you got a bad grade- let it motive you to do better next time. I’m sorry you don’t like your job- at least you have one. Mad that you’re having a bad hair day? Well…(that sometimes does really stink)…put it up in a new do and wear great clothes! Don’t complain about the card you’re dealt- it could always be worse. You don’t want to ever look back and think, “Man, if only I’d known how good I had it.” At my age, I already see people doing that- we’re too young to regret what we did or didn’t do! Enjoy where you are and make the most of it. Happiness is more than a motto or a mood- it is a way of life. I know that if I am happy, even if there is no reason to be, I will make someone smile that day. And that makes the world, and my life, better and a heck of a lot more funJ.