Monday, February 25, 2013

Don’t Worry, Be Happy!

I like to see people happy.  I get choked up when little kids run into the arms of returning parents.  I get teary-eyed when I get to see people experience unrestrained joy.  I can think of a number of times that has happened, many of them sports related because I am tuned into that, but I can recall others as well.  Have you ever seen that look on the face of the groom when he catches that first look of his bride-to-be at the end of the aisle?  Yeah, I watch the groom while most are watching the bride!  Heck, she takes a long walk and you can see her for a while.  Take that moment to watch the groom and you will see what I mean!   I’ve had opportunity to be there when a student gets word that he has been awarded a major scholarship.  That smile is priceless.  Back to the romantic, how about when that courageous guy pops the question in front of thousands of his “best friends” and on the Jumbotron?  Or when that accountant finds out that she passed the state boards?

A while back I watched the video of Norfolk State students in their student center watching the final few seconds of their basketball teams monumental upset of Missouri (I can’t believe I would pick a team that I loathe as much as Mizzou to win it all on my bracket!) in the NCAA tournament and explode into a crazy sea of wild celebration.  I don’t know anyone at Norfolk State, let alone in the video, and I could not help but beam at the chance they had to be so happy.  Those kinds of moments need to be shared, and more important, in all of our lives we should be so lucky to get to experience the amazing adrenaline that flows through our body at that moment.  I’ve gotten to do that a couple of times at some sports events when the “amazing” happens.  I remember standing on the sideline as the seconds ticked off under the lights at one of the first night games Nebraska played when Tom Osborne had a team that finally defeated Barry Switzer and OU.  My split loyalties between my two college alma maters came into play as Iowa State fans went absolutely delirious with joy in 1992 following quarterback Marv Seiler’s amazing run that lead to the defeat of Top-5 ranked Nebraska.  Iowa State fans were crying with joy, and my new wife was jumping up and down so wildly that I thought for sure she was going to fall over the rail of the second deck!  I remember Chay Wood, a young man I coached a few years back, rise up after pinning his opponent in the state finals and look to his mom in the crowd with his wry smile.  I know what I was feeling standing in his corner, but I cannot fathom the joy he was experiencing at that moment.

Pure, unadulterated joy!  It is such an incredible feeling that it makes me wonder why we would want to make anyone feel anything else.  The cool thing is that when you witness it, you can’t help but feel some of it too!  Watching those kids go crazy when their team wins gives me a smile and a warm feeling.  So why don’t we seek ways to make people feel happy?  It feels good to see that smile; that sparkle when their eyes light up.  Is it that difficult to find nice things to do, or kind things to say?  I confess that often when I am out and about I am “on a mission” and am oblivious to those I meet.  It isn’t that tough when I slow down, make eye contact, and say something nice.  It doesn’t always have to be much. Sometimes less is more.  But I think we live in a world of cynicism and many of us for whatever reason indict those who are really happy.  Is it because we are jealous or envious?  Are we so competitive that it always comes down to winners and losers?  In a warped way, are some of us happy being miserable?  I suppose it could be a number of things.  Regardless, look for those opportunities to smile and laugh, and more important, take a pause the next time you see someone that is really, really happy . . . and try to absorb some of it.  I guarantee you will be happy too!