November 25, 2020

How to become the poster child for happiness

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This archived article was written by: Dixon Woodruff

The path of my life has taken me on some interesting journeys. Most of these adventures would simply be memories that would fade with time if I did not write down exactly what happened. I am a faithful journal writer and have not missed writing in my journal the events of every day for more than six years. As I read past entries, my soul is filled with deep and tangible nostalgia. On February 6, 2013, I had a small moment in time that guided my path to where I am today. That day I found myself surrounded by a group of people who were asking me for advice on love. Shortly after that evening ended, I began to fantasize about continuing my love advice. Then I had an epiphany that I should write a love advice column in the school newspaper and another journey in my life began. Once the instructor gave me the green light, I began and was happy.
I first killed all my inhibitions and told myself that I would not let anyone hinder my freedom of speech. I shattered the precedents of what a typical newspaper article should be. I aimed for controversy and rudely took joy in the anger of others about what I wrote. I received threats and compliments regularly. I never before considered myself a writer, but the words I utilized attracted attention. I was happy.
In my articles I have hidden many Easter Eggs. My articles contain dozens of inside jokes and riddles. I have encrypted messages for friends and family to find. I have secretly expressed my love for some and disliking for others. There have been ridiculous statistics and not so factual facts. Sometimes, I would put a simple statement in my columns that was irrelevant or stupid, but it didn’t matter. It was my article. For one of the first times in my life, I had something that I took pride in. I would quote friends just because they would jokingly suggest it. For instance, our valedictorian this year, Elise Vogel, said to me, “Dixon, you should quote me in one of your articles.” She has now been quoted and my point has been proven. I hope that me fulfilling her wish makes her as happy as it makes me.
My articles have all given advice, both good and bad. This may be my last newspaper article ever written and I know what I want to say to everyone. I have referred to being happy multiple times in this article and that is what I intend to give advice on. I want everyone to be happy.
I feel at times as though I could be the poster child for happiness. I have a few tips to help anyone frolic in this same joy, regardless of their circumstances. The first tip is to fake it until you make it. My sweet mother, who I love with all my heart, gives me this advice regularly. I have been on the phone with her many times when the trials pile up. She reminds me that I cannot change what happens outside of my control. The only thing that I can do is decide how I act and react in every situation. Life will rarely be easy, but that does not mean that we have any right to complain. Slap a smile on your face because trials are temporary and the human spirit cannot be conquered, it can only be surrendered.
The next tip is to be yourself. My precious articles would give me little joy if I was consigned to stick to the norms. I march to the beat of my own drum. I am unconventional at all times because I can be. Even the people who love me the most have opinions of what I should do to be “better.” The greatest people who have walked this planet were different from the societal norms in which they lived. We should not be shaped by the cookie-cutter ideals of our times no matter what our culture and leaders tell us. All the power we will ever possess in the world is based off our ability to choose. To be happy, we must also avoid vices that restrict out ability to make decisions. We have to find standards that we know to be right and live by them. This is where we find real happiness.
The last piece of advice to be happy is found in loving unconditionally. Hate and happy only have two letters in common and other than that, they are polar opposites. We must learn to love others, especially when it is hard. The people who are the hardest to love are the ones who need it the most. When we learn to love others, we learn to love ourselves. How exactly do we love others? To put it simply, you serve those you love. We need to put our wants on the backburner to take care of others’ needs first. I can say I love my friends and family, but until I do something to show that love, I am simply talking. Service and love are key ingredients in happiness.
I am who I am, I do what I have to do, I love who I love, and that makes me happy.

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