Zimin Qian - Grade 9, Oakwood High School
You choose to be happy.
There are copious ways to obtain “happiness”: every journey different for each individual. Many attempt to explain the process towards perpetual happiness-the practice of gratitude; however, is the answer. Happiness derives from one’s choice to be happy. One of the small steps I exerted on the long journey towards happiness originated from insight on the poverty-stricken people of the world.
The end of the 2013 school year: my family and I were scurrying around the house and packing furiously for the anticipated trip of the summer. We were traveling across the country to experience the different cultures of Asia; stopping at the cities of Beijing, Wuhan, and even Singapore! When we arrived at the Dayton airport on June 5th, I was bursting from excitement. I distinctly remember myself having the time of my life-rolling my brand new Hello Kitty suitcase through the bustling airports in Chicago, California, and eventually Wuhan, China.
If one would walk through the impoverished sections of Wuhan-a bustling, picturesque city on the outskirts of the Hubei province, the foul stench of the sewage systems would make one wrinkle their nose in disgust. The crowded streets strewn with garbage and trash would make one break a sweat through the warmth of all the bodies packed in the vicinity. This is exactly what I experienced when my family and I strolled through the streets of Wuhan-occasionally tripping over the numerous amount of potholes unfixed at every curbside. My entire downtrodden family was quite upset when my dad dragged us out of our luxurious hotel near the towering skyscrapers of downtown Wuhan to the “poor” sections of the elaborate city. I was especially upset when this excursion intruded our shopping plans that afternoon. When approaching a rundown neighborhood, I noticed a couple street vendors trudging through the scorching hot sun with hardened looks and stone-cold gazes. Approaching a house more accurately described as a shack; I noticed a bright yellow swing set with the hum of children playing around it. The fact that children like myself were living in these conditions sent shock waves through my 9-year-old self.
This epiphany instantly shut up my whining and complaining. My petty problems were spontaneously solved and I couldn’t care less about my shopping spree. I had a desire to help the woman sleeping on the bench or the man selling Chinese pancakes for a living. This desire sparked my positive attitude and I was instantly grateful for all the blessings I didn’t normally appreciate.
These eye-widening experiences not only changed my life, but also had a profound impact on my family. We all experienced that “desire” to help those people in unfavorable conditions; sparking our grateful attitudes.
That is the key to happiness. Happiness is the choice, the power, to have a grateful and positive outlook on life. I chose to be happy that day: consequently, I was happy. I am now living a genuinely happy life, sharing this positive attitude with those around me.