This week's blog post comes from the Vice President of the Slippery Rock University SPARK Club in Slippery Rock, Pennsylvania. SPARK stands for Strengthening Positivity and Reinforcing Kindness and these groups act as Happiness crusaders (okay, and ambassadors), supporting The Smile Project and promoting random acts of kindness in their communities.
I will be the first to admit that in middle school and high school, I may not have been the nicest person. I said rude things, I did rude things, and I probably hurt a few people too. I did not always hangout with the right “friends” or have the best attitude about life in general. I had a boyfriend who ruled my entire life in a really unhealthy way and made me a completely different person. I hung out with the wrong crowd because I wanted to be noticed, liked, and understood.
I found out that the boy I was dating didn’t treat me the way I should be treated. He belittled me, fought with me, blamed me for his unhappiness, and I only continued to try and “fix” him. I realized that after almost 3 years my happiness was more important and waiting for him to change would never happen. I was with him from freshman year until junior year in high school and in those years, I completely transformed into the person I didn’t want to be. I was completely dependent on someone else and the moment I realized he wasn’t the right one, I was gone. It was the first step in changing to someone I would be proud of. I, then, realized that the friends I was surrounding myself with only brought me down and took my life in the wrong direction. I realized the way I lived my life was something I should think about changing. I tried to help others, heal someone who didn’t want to be healed, and became broken myself. None of this worked out for me, but I can say now that it was all for the better.
In college, I decided to change and become a better person for myself. I realized that doing those hurtful things was my way of coping with my own insecurities. I started being nice to everyone, meeting new people, and making Happiness my main goal. During my first year at college, I changed myself for the better. It wasn’t easy, because my entire life was changing. I was living away from home for the first time, starting college, living with a stranger, and dealing with new stresses. I had meltdowns, I had breakdowns, and I cried a lot. I tried to hold others up while I fell down. I have always put others before myself. I smiled at strangers, I held doors for classmates, I paid for the next person in line, and I helped others with homework. With that being said, I wasn't always that nice. I said hurtful things to my roommate, I didn’t always feel like helping others, and I didn’t always put others first. I’ve broken down. I’ve told myself I’ll try again tomorrow. I’ve woken up determined to do better and yet, fall short. I’ve told myself, “I’ll try harder today” or “I’ll be more productive”, and each day, I continue to improve, one small step at a time. There was rough patches, and there still are. I took small steps and learned one thing at a time. Maintaining a positive attitude really helped me stay positive. I am by no means the person I was in high school.. The girl I was at sixteen is not even closely related to who I am now at twenty-one.
With all those changes, I also had a huge opportunity placed in front of me my spring semester. Liz had come to Slippery Rock and spoke at a club meeting that I was a part of. She immediately caught my attention as “someone I wanted to be like”, and I wanted to learn from her. She began to explain what The Smile Project was and how she started “Happiness is” so many days ago. I instantly knew I wanted to be involved and continue to grow as a better person through this organization. She introduced SPARK and how we could create a chapter at Slippery Rock University (SRU). I knew by the end of the meeting that I was going to take the step to start this club. A friend and I approached Liz at the end of the meeting and began discussing how we could begin with this huge task. From that day on, I have been trying to create and grow a SPARK club at SRU with multiple people, through ups and downs. The Smile Project and SPARK have changed my life. These organizations have allowed me to grow as a leader, become more positive, and be a better person overall. There have been plenty of bumps in the road, but I wouldn’t change it for anything. SPARK has allowed me to meet so many amazing people, connect with others I would’ve never met, and created a positive outlook in a primarily negative world.
A fresh start is sometimes all you need to realize that life has a lot more to offer than what you thought. Start with little things like a positive quote to start your day, or smiling at someone you pass on the sidewalk, or even saying hello to a stranger who you sit next to in class. Radiate happiness and you will begin to feel happy yourself and your outlook on life may become a little brighter. Not every day will be perfect. We all have bad days when you spill your coffee before 8AM, you’re late for a really important meeting, or your favorite shirt just got a hole in it. Bad days happen and you may make a comment you shouldn’t have, or you aren’t super smiley that day. AND it’s okay. Not one person is happy 365 days a year, or all day every day. . The important thing is how you recover from those days. By no means, am I happy all the time, and I have my bad days. Everyone does. Many of us struggle with demons within us and we all have our mental struggles but growing with those and learning to accept those while learning to have a new positive mentality. Maybe you wake up and realize “today is a new day” and even if something goes wrong, you don’t let it phase you. Or you smile at a stranger and hold the door for other students walking into the cafe. Don’t let one bad day stop you from having a good life.
Whether you haven’t been the sweetest person lately, or just want to change your lifestyle to a more positive one- start with little steps. Smile. Share Positive Quotes. Radiate Happiness. Laugh. Dance. Pay it Forward. Spend times with friends. Surround yourself with positive minds. Your happiness and positivity will radiate to those around you and hopefully spread the Happiness to their lives.
All saints have a past. All sinners have a future.
My point is that no matter what your past looks like, you still have the chance to do great things. It doesn’t matter if you weren’t the best person years ago or even yesterday; we all have our moments. Happiness starts with yourself, and you are the one in charge of your own inner peace. The great thing about life is that you have the opportunity to redeem yourself and start fresh, start new.