Something to Smile About

Niamh - Hinsdale, Illinois
Entered on February 12, 2009
Age Group: 18 - 30
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I trudged heavily down the dark, dismal hallway, basking in my unhappiness. I was having the worst day ever, and there was nothing anyone could do to change it. Expecting to fall and break a leg or to suddenly become infected with a terrible disease, I braced myself for a tough practice. Ironically, the second prediction came true, but it wasn’t as terrible as I thought. When I walked into the locker room, I was first greeted with the smiling face of one of my best friends. I tried to maintain my gloom, but I could feel myself being infected by the highly contagious smile virus. It worked quickly, and before long I was spreading the virus to other members of the team.

Days like this one have taught me to believe that being around happy people makes me happy too. Smiling is contagious, and even the worst problems never seem as bad when talking to an especially optimistic person. Though this may all seem obvious, it makes a huge difference when applied to life. In the last year or two, I have made an effort to adopt a more positive attitude, and surrounding myself with optimistic people has been the key to doing this. When somebody smiles at me, I find it close to impossible to restrain myself from smiling back, and the same idea holds true for happiness. My best friends are all extremely optimistic, and I have gradually attained a much more positive outlook on life from being with them.

This new way of thinking has also helped me to manage a busy lifestyle much better than I could ever have imagined. Instead of groaning about how much work I have to do at night, I convince myself that it is perfectly manageable, allowing myself to approach it with a worry free attitude. It has proved particularly useful in cross country running because without staying positive about the long distance runs and the strenuous practices, I would not be able to finish them. Even in every day situations like passing somebody new in the halls at school, a friendly smile goes a long way.

At this point, a negative person may interrupt me to say that all of this can also be said about spreading pessimism and sorrow, but for this person, I have good news: happiness spreads more quickly and is more long lasting than negative energy. To make this even better, a 2008 Harvard study revealed that happy people can affect not only their friends, but also people who are separated from them by up to three degrees. To me, it seems too easy that by merely being happy myself, I can make people I have never even met happy too. If this is all I have to do to gradually make the world a happier place, I will gladly attempt it, one smile at a time. This is one virus for which I hope there will never be a cure.