When I was eight years old, I joined the Boy Scouts, and looked forward to many adventures, including hiking, camping, and – of course – competing in the soap box derby! I still remember how excited I was to enter my first race and how devastated I was when I finished dead last! The members of my troupe laughed at me, and I cried as I walked home from the meet.
I decided to “get even” with them and quit Scouts. But doing so didn’t hurt anyone but me as I gave up the opportunity to grow as a person through a time-honored youth organization. As I continued to sulk and feel sorry for myself, my father (a former Eagle Scout) invited me to stand in the corner for an hour and consider my attitude. “Be miserable or be happy. It’s your life,” he said.
I am reminded of an experience that occurred while driving on Florida’s turnpike. We were enthusiastically greeted by an employee wearing a Hawaiian shirt at the Wildwood tollway plaza as we traveled south to Orlando. He advised us that, in addition to visiting Disneyworld, we absolutely had to “hit the beach” and see the Kennedy Space Center if we had time. Wahoo!
While leaving the state several days later, we greeted the northbound toll plaza employee with smiles and excited comments about how much fun we’d had while visiting the Sunshine State. I suppose we were “babbling,” but he just frowned as he handed us our toll-road entry ticket and told us to “move along.” Hmmm…
We all know people who raise our spirits whenever they’re around and others who choose to be miserable and spread gloom wherever they go. Some add joy to our lives while others seem to suck the oxygen right out of the air. The difference, of course, is the attitude they’ve chosen.
Happiness is a function of both thought and action, and is, therefore, within our control. Feeling happy, being grateful, and doing meaningful work enhances our wellness and increases our satisfaction with life. As James M. Barrie said, “Those who bring sunshine to the lives of others cannot keep it from themselves.” Clearly, one of the turnpike employees understood that while the other did not.
As my father once wisely advised, “Be miserable or be happy. It’s your life!” Let’s choose happiness! Life will be longer, healthier, and more fulfilling!
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“There are always flowers for those who want to see them.”
from “Life is Good: Simple Words from Jake and Rocket”