When I was a kid, I loved reading those “choose the path” books. For instance, you could choose to have the little girl run across the street to see her friend, or she could stay home. Depending on which one you chose, you were then directed to “go to page 34” or “go to page 173”. In other words, that one choice would change the whole book.
We, even as adults, are faced with these choices every single day. To take the freeway to work, or to take the backroads. One gets you in the middle of traffic backed up due to an accident, while the other gets you stuck behind a trailer pulling a million pounds of hay. One might lead you to see an accident, whick migh lead you to being called as a witness, which might lead you to meeting the man of your dreams – the guy who works the metal detector at the Courthouse. The other might lead you to see a baby calf on your way to work, which leads you to remember Heifer International, which leads you to make a donation in someone’s honor or just because, which leads someone in a foreign country to be able to afford to send his kids to day school in Uganda. Every single day, we make choices. Yes, some are not as mind-boggling or event-forcing as these examples, but they do have an impact on someone’s life – yours or another person’s.
Over the holiday weekend, for example, a friend of mine was in the drive-thru behind someone at a restaurant. The person in front of him paid for my friend’s food, kind of like that time a few months ago when 250+ people kept the “pay it forward” going until a grinch gummed up the works. (Okay, maybe not a grinch, maybe the person just couldn’t afford whatever the person in front of him/her purchased, or maybe the grinchy person was just in a bad mood that day.) Because of the person’s generosity, my friend posted the news on Facebook. In turn, several people commented how nice that was, and some others liked his status. In turn, someone on his status had a smile they might not have otherwise had for that day. It is the holiday season, and even though most people think the holidays are a happy time, there are many for whom the holidays bring out bad feelings or thoughts of lost loved ones, loneliness, or just general sadness. Either way, my friend’s pay it forward driver gave many of us a smile on that day. It’s not something that’s easily forgotten, either.
I write this, because, even though my life has not been totally easy, it could have been much worse. I have made some bad choices. Everyone has. I have made some great choices. Most people have. I try to smile a lot, because it’s just as easy to smile and laugh at something as it is to frown and grouch. The last year and a half were not easy, and the smile had all but disappeared. It’s back again. Because I choose it again.
Everyday you make choices. You can choose to be happy. You can choose to be sad. You can make the best of a cruddy situation. You can make the worst of it. I choose to be happy now, somewhat because I am tired of being unhappy. Somewhat because life is too short to waste it worrying about what someone in administration thinks. What someone might say or not say about my presentation skills. What someone may or may not say about my 9-year old car. (Yes, it needs a good wash.) What someone may complain about their job, even though it’s federally-funded with a pension, while yours is neither.
Choose this day to be happy. Choose to make someone else smile. That smile will make that person happier, which in turn may brighten someone else’s day. Sadness, angst, or unhappiness is just as, if not more, contagious than happiness. Choose happiness. It’s a much better path.