This I Believe

Christopher - San Antonio, Texas
Entered on July 26, 2007
Age Group: 30 - 50

I believe you should smile going to work and smile coming home from work. I clearly remember this advice from my father when I was a young boy not even considering a career or a family. He does not remember giving me this advice, but I have seen him live it. He has lived it well, and I hope I can make choices that result in the same happy, fulfilled life he has had.

Smiling on the way to work insinuates that you enjoy your job. You feel satisfied, appreciated, and despite the inevitable daily grind, you are having fun. Work is not always what you do to make a living. It can be staying home with the children, a retirement passion, or any recurring endeavor. Having a goal keeps you engaged in life.

Smiling on the way home from work is evidence that you enjoy your family. You are excited to see your spouse, your children, the pets. You enjoy hearing the day’s events, helping with homework, eating dinner together, and settling into the rhythm of life at home.

My father worked as a large and small animal veterinarian in a small Wisconsin town. He enjoyed the characters he met on the dairy farms. He would smirk telling us stories of odd pets and their owners. It was clear he enjoyed his job.

In my teenage years, he gave up the large animal half of his practice. It was hard to see all my basketball games with emergency calls early in the morning and late in the evening which is when the farmers checked the cattle. He says it was time to scale back. I know better; he was not smiling as much and he made a change.

When he retired, his daily “work” was gone. He is not a golfer or a tennis player. He did not have a daily activity to engage his smile. Over the next few years, he talked my mother into joining the Peace Corps, took care of his ailing father, took up woodcarving, decided to learn Spanish, and takes part in short medical mission trips. It took a few years, but he is smiling going to work again.

I have always tried to live his advice. I chose the rigorous road of attending a military academy. The challenge made me smile. I chose to be a surgeon, a career I enjoy despite the long hours, the late night calls, and the heartaches. The work, however, is only half the key. I found the love of my life, have three beautiful daughters, and can’t wait each day to get home to them. Just the thought of the 3 bouncy blonde girls running up to hug me and yelling “Daddy, your home! We made cookies!” makes me smile.

I believe that making choices resulting in a smile on the way to work and a smile on the way home creates a life that is rich, full, meaningful, and most of all, fun.