This I Believe

Dylan - West Bend, Wisconsin
Entered on January 9, 2008
Age Group: Under 18

As a teenager living in the twenty first century, I find that the biggest problems lie within me. Every problem I seem to have comes not from my inability to fix it, but my unwillingness to fix it. Almost anything these days is possible, so why then should anyone spend their time complaining about simple problems? Why should anyone wander about as if in a haze, their face becoming a caricature of gloom? I strongly believe that even in the darkest of days it is possible to smile.

In my younger days (now I know coming from a teenager this sounds silly), I myself was a hopeless pessimist. Every day I was far too harsh on myself, oftentimes for no reasons. One of my best friends is a helpless optimist, and in my pessimism I tended to snap at them. I thought to myself, “How could anyone be so happy ALL THE TIME?” In hindsight I realize that of course this is possible, but what is possible is making the attempt to be happy. At my lowest point, I had decided to read a series of self-help novels. In this search for optimism I found a book by the Dalai Lama all about improving not your mood, but your thought processes that lead to your mood. After reading this, I found almost instantly my mood changed. I felt more energetic a person, happier. Now when I received a bad grade on my tests I didn’t worry about my parents’ reaction, but learning from my mistakes instead. I began seeing the positive side to everything—and those things I couldn’t find a positive side to, I simply removed from my mind.

I once heard a quote that states 10% of a person’s life is the events that occur within that life and 90% of a person’s life is how they react. As I live my day to day, I find this is extraordinarily true. When something bad happens to me, I try not to focus on it but instead everything I love about the world around me. It sounds cheesy and cliché but life is what you make of it. People who smile are just genuinely happier. I know being sad and depressed seems tempting, but whenever I get that way I think: what would being sad help?

I’ve come to the conclusion that the only thing accomplished by acting sad is dragging down everyone around you. Meanwhile, the energy that a simple smile or an energetic person brings is infectious. I now realize that people like me more when I’m upbeat, it even brings up their mood. My smile can bring happiness to others, and their happiness in turn brings me the true happiness. When you focus on the good, the bad doesn’t seem to matter anymore. That’s why I believe that with the right mindset, anyone can learn to smile in the darkest of their days.