Do we have a happiness gene?
I don’t know the answer to that one, but every now and again we meet someone who consistently personifies the spirit of happiness even while dealing with crushing adversity.
I have a friend who has a friend. I don’t know my friends friend but my friend has often spoken of her friend who, regardless of events taking place in his life, is always a ray of sunshine showering all with whom he meets with his infectious happiness.
So when my friend invited me for lunch with her friend, I leapt at the opportunity.
A few days later I joined my friend at a restaurant and we were chatting when her friend arrived
Despite not having met her friend before, I recognized him immediately by the huge smile on his face when he entered the restaurant and greeted the owner.
His smile did not waver for a moment as he came over to the table, kissed my friend on the cheek and warmly shook my hand. I could feel his positive energy radiating across the table.
The three of us chatted for a while before my friend turned to her friend and, with a very serious and concerned look on her face asked, “How are you feeling?”
I was little puzzled by her question and the look on her face until he answered.
“The radiation was a little tough this morning but it’s over, life goes on, so let’s spend our time together talking about more important stuff.”
It turns out my friends friend is battling colon cancer. He had undergone surgery some time ago, suffered through an unpleasant course of chemotherapy and was now receiving radiation treatment.
And throughout it all, his sunny disposition and radiant smile had never faltered, not even for a moment.
“I guess I’m lucky,” he said to me at one point during the conversation, “I was raised by parents who always seemed to be happy despite both having to deal with extreme adversity. My dad used to say that ‘It’s better to be happy when you’re feeling really crappy’ and we were raised with that mantra.
“I have found that putting a happy spin on whatever is taking place makes lifes challenges much easier to deal with.
“Dealing with this disease has, at times, been quite difficult and there have been many moments when I have felt really defeated and drained. But each time that happens I remind myself of a few very powerful and irrefutable facts:
Fact number one: I have cancer and am feeling really sick.
Fact number two: If I allow myself to continue feeling defeated and drained I will still have cancer and I will still be feeling really sick.
Fact number three: If I allow myself to feel happy I will still have cancer and I will still be feeling really sick.
So, regardless of my mood, I still have cancer and I feel really sick but it is so much easier to deal with and cope with when I’m happy, so I ‘choose to be happy even when I’m feeling really crappy.’”
He went to tell me that, thanks to his parents, that philosophy had been well ingrained in him from early childhood and had stood him in good stead over the years.
Like many people he has had his share of adversity.
In his early 20s he spent almost a year in hospital recovering from a car accident, was fired from a job he loved, was laid off twice during tough times and started a business that didn’t work out.
And now he is in a fight for his life.
And as he has always done, he soldiers on with that dazzling smile firmly in place.
He said that a person’s happiness is never dependent on their status quo. He firmly believes that the one has nothing to do with the other and he begins every day with this pledge, “I choose to be happy today regardless…”
As we were leaving the restaurant he made a comment that will stick with me for a very long time. He said, “I don’t know whether I will win this battle with cancer or not. I intend to win, but in the event that I don’t I will leave this earth with a huge smile on my face because that’s the first thing I want God to see when I meet him.”
Can’t argue with that.
Till we read again.
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