Would you believe a 12-year-old wrote this:
“By choosing to be happy we let ourselves be friendlier and more human to one another.”
I recently had the honor of being a judge for The 2012 Good Life Award Writing Contest. It was open to students from seventh to ninth grade; 522 kids entered from 34 schools. The contest was created to honor the life of Dottie Yeck, a champion of children, who believed that one is never too young to have an impact on the world. Her Life Philosophy and premise for the contest is: Being Good + Doing Good = Having Fun + Being Happy. Clearly Dottie was not a native New Yorker. Listen to this BlogCast!
The kids were instructed to write a 300 – 500 word essay describing a time when they chose to “be happy” even when others around them were not. Did that choice make a difference? Did it influence others? What lessons did they learn in that situation about the power of choosing their attitude? How will their attitude be influenced in the future?
I agreed to be a judge because quite frankly I felt like I could really use some good advice on attitude and happiness. And sometimes kids see things in a way that adults just can’t. I was not disappointed and I think you too will be impressed with the insight these younguns have:
"I learned a positive attitude can make any situation better."
“I hold the power to choose my attitude and completely turn something around.”
“I learned that happiness is a conscious choice, regardless of one’s circumstances. By making choices that bring happiness into our lives, it allows us to feel empowered rather than overwhelmed by our current life conditions.”
“I learned choosing to be positive and happy is a powerful thing. Not only did it help me, but it set an example for others to be positive and happy too.”
“I explained how short life really is, and how I wanted to spend as little of it as possible only focusing on the negative.”
"When someone dies it is not a happy time of your life, but it’s how you deal with it that makes the difference."
"I have learned that without flexibility, it is hard to change anything, especially an attitude. The power of choosing your attitude is priceless. You will never know when you might need to cool your anger or keep persevering."
“I learned that hope always exists, waiting for someone to take it and find true happiness. From now on, I’ll keep an eye out for it.”
“Pain is inevitable, but misery is optional. We cannot avoid pain, but we can avoid joy.”
“Next time somebody says something stupid, remember the last time you said something you regretted, and then move on. Laugh about it, choose to be happy, and move on.”
“Instead of obsessing over ‘he said-she said’ we have fun together, and forgive each other for not being perfect.”
“I realized that you can never be the best forever.”
And although it is hard to choose a favorite, if it had to, mine would be:
"Whose life will my attitude change today?"
That one question beautifully acknowledges the affect we have on each other and our world. I know grown folks who don’t possess that depth of perception, much less the capacity to articulate it so succinctly. It will be interesting to see if these young people can hold on to this wisdom as they wade through hormones, heartbreak, and house payments.