Happy laughter filled each room. The thunder of footsteps racing up and down the stairs was never-ending, and the constant chatter never stopped. All that noise and activity might have made every day at my house seem like one big family reunion for some, but to me that was normal.
I have one older sister and four older brothers. All of them are 29 and older, so there is quite a gap. Over the years they have moved on and moved out making me feel as if I am an only child. Every time they would come back I would jump for joy, but when it was time for them to leave the tears started flowing. I was always very angry and very sad, until now. I have learned that such is life, and I have learned that I believe in being happy for others.
It was always so hard for me to put on a happy face whenever it was time for one of my siblings to head back home and get back to their own life. The minute they were out the door I would race down to my room, dive onto my bed, smother my face with a pillow, and cry for hours. As I got a bit older, my dad felt that it wasn’t a very good idea for me to be crying so much every time they left. He would say to me, “Kate, they know you cry and it really hurts them.” Ouch. I never thought that I was making them sad. To me, it was them that hurt me. However, my dad then went on to explain that even though they lead their own lives away from us they still love us and that I should really try and be happy for them. Still, I had trouble grasping the idea, but again I grew older and now, as I am nearing the moment of my departure from this home, it has all begun to fall into place.
I spent a couple of nights just lying on my bed in the quiet darkness and contemplating how many times in my life I spent crying and being frustrated, and then I thought how much better those times would have been if I had just been happy for the other person. It is kind of like when someone receives a gift on their birthday. You wouldn’t want to be mad at them and you wouldn’t want to throw a fit and ruin the night just because they got something really cool that you may have wanted. Instead, if you can celebrate with them, it will make for a much happier birthday for that person and everyone attending, including you.
There is so much in life that will make me upset or sad, I understand that, but there is also so much to be happy for. When it gets tough to be happy for myself, I find somebody else and celebrate with them. I am no longer jealous or angry because of what they have. They are my friends and my family, I love them, and now that I understand the joy that being happy for others can bring me, I practice that belief every day, and that makes each day a true gift.
If you enjoyed this essay, please consider making a tax-deductible contribution to This I Believe, Inc.