Hardship is Fuel for Happiness

M. - San Diego, California
Entered on May 1, 2008

I remember running around the confetti-filled floor on my fourth birthday. The children were playing and eating candy they gathered from the piñata while the adults watched over them. In my playful four-year-old self, turning to look at mom and dad filled me with joy. I also remember my brother and I jumping on the bed while dad whistled and sang and mom laughed. These memories are fresh in my head sixteen years later, still providing the sense of happiness I had back then. Now as a young adult I know that life is comprised of good times as well as bad times and even hardships. I believe hardships are a reminder of what is important in life.

My life has been full of change. My family moved to the U.S. when my mom married my step-father. My dad lived in Mexico and called my brother and I every week. One day, out of the blue, the news came: my daddy had cancer. The sound of the very word hit me so hard I could not believe it. My brother and I flew to Mexico to see him, expecting the worst.

I lost my dad to cancer. At the time I was going away to San Diego for college and leaving my family –there were a lot of mixed up emotions involved that had a powerful impact in my life. My dad’s death is the greatest hardship I have gone through, but it is also the event that has given me the most strength.

One of the most fascinating things I have learned is that the virtue that human beings admire the most in others is the ability to overcome adversity. The task to consume adversity and convert it into positive energy is a great challenge, but I strongly believe that it can be achieved. I see hardship as a lens that helps us see what has the utmost importance in life. Hardship reminds me of two things: the frailty of life and the people who care.

In an ever-changing world, it is easy to get things that matter most and other things mixed up. Seeing the frailty of life through my dad’s death made me cherish the people who care about me, my family. My mom, step-father and siblings are what keep me from falling apart. More than a good education, more than all the money and fame in the world, more than all the respect the wisest man on earth could receive…my family matters more.