Pillar 3: Share Joy - 5 Years of Happiness is..
The longest relationship I’ve ever been in is the one I have with joy.
On November 9th 2011, I posted a Facebook status.
Aspiring to be an author since age 8, I’ve always revered the importance of words. And I’ve always respected the influence a single sentence can have. I just figured my life changing sentences would be along the lines of: “congratulations on graduating college” or “here’s the keys to your first apartment” or “we’d like to extend the job offer to you.” And while all of those are life-changing, radically beautiful sentiments, I don’t think they can hold to a flame to that crystal clear thought I had on a calm November day five years ago.
Every single day of my life since November 9th 2011, I have found a reason to smile. Every single day of my life since November 9th 2011, you have allowed me to share that with you. And I feel very blessed to have been given that opportunity.
The Smile Project – most specifically the “happiness is” posts have changed my life in more ways than I can ever imagine. I began the project with no plan and no hope, in some sense. I was 17 years old, a senior in high school, and just trying to stay on top of school work, athletics, and extra-curricular activities. On top of that, I was massively depressed.
I had allowed myself to fall apart, to engage in self-destructive behaviors, to hurt those closest to me through my words and my actions.
I was the last person, in my mind, who had any right to talk about Happiness. But there I was.
And over the course of the last five years, I watched what began as simple Facebook statuses transform my mind and perhaps most importantly my heart.
Some time ago at an interview, I was asked to put myself back in that place. I tried to remember what it was like to be in the place of dark unhappiness. And truthfully? I couldn’t.
I thought about middle school all the way up through high school. I thought about hopelessness. I thought about everything that was so all-consuming back then but I couldn’t fathom that I was the same person. I thought about how - even when I had initially started The Smile Project - how hard it was to find something positive in every day.
I know that was my life.
But I struggle to accept that.
Because for the past 5 years, I have found a reason to smile every single day. And somewhere on the course of this journey, I have found a reason to sincerely believe in that.
The Smile Project completely transformed who I am... and for that I will always be grateful.
That being said, recent events have left me feeling hollow, numb, and hopeless. Today was supposed to be a day of celebration and yet some hours ago I found myself texting my friend how I wasn't sure if I could do it. Five years was a perfect stopping point. I couldn't handle what was happening.
"We need you. We love you. We need reminders that we are truly better than this, even if we aren't. We need hope, and you give that to a bunch of friends and strangers on Facebook. I know that you feel hopeless, but you did when you started this. There is good in the world. There is love in the world. Showcasing that might be important now more than ever."
He's right. Now is not the time to give up. Now is the time to rise up.
I have spent the last five years of my life dedicated to finding Happiness is every single day. I don't much see the point in stopping now.
Happiness is.. the way one indisputably average sentence can change your entire life. Five full years ago today, I posted a one sentence Facebook status with the headline of “Day One.” That single unimportant sentence became the mantra for my very existence. That one liner five years ago led to 1,827 more days… and counting. Thank you for allowing me to share my joy and my story.