In the classic story of “Charlie and the Chocolate Factory,” Willy Wonka announces that five golden tickets would be hidden in chocolate bars from his candy factory. Those who were lucky enough to find a golden ticket would get a tour of Wonka’s mysterious lair. People became so obsessed with finding a ticket, they went to extreme measures to find one, and the joy they once found in the chocolate bar was lost.
Are we like the characters in this story? Usually when we are looking endlessly for our magical golden ticket, we forget to enjoy the chocolate bar now. We search for people, situations or things that we think will make us happy, and in the process forgo happiness today. Just like those visiting the Wonka factory, often when we achieve the prize we think will bring us joy, it doesn’t.
For example, many teenagers I know crave to have a boyfriend or girlfriend so much, that they aren’t happy with the friends they already have. Their sense of worth and happiness is wrapped up in the idea of being in a relationship. When that plan ends, as it usually does, they just feel miserable again.
A wise man named Dieter Uchtdorf said, “The happiest people I know are not those who find their golden ticket; they are those who, while in pursuit of worthy goals, discover and treasure the beauty and sweetness of the everyday moments.” Simply put, happy people look for the good in their life today, and then enjoy it.
We all have hard moments, but no hardship is so bad that it cannot be made worse by complaining about it. Not every moment in life is going to be beautiful and sweet, but if we focus on the good we will be able to easily recognize opportunities for happiness in our lives.
What is keeping you from enjoying that chocolate bar, the simple joy found in simple moments? When I asked friends of mine what made them unhappy, some common answers were: a lack of something they wanted, people who did not get along with them, or something that they did not like about themselves.
Our unhappiness can usually be fixed by changing our attitude.
A girl I know complained that there was not enough snow for her to go skiing. Thinking positively, she could be happy that she didn’t have to put on snow boots to walk her dog.
One of my friends who goes to Skyview High School inspires me by her positive attitude.
Even though she is in constant pain because of an illness and is frequently in the hospital, I’ve never heard her complain about it.
Every time I talk to her she makes me smile because she is so excited about life. She isn’t waiting for a magic ticket to happiness.
Victor Frankl, a Nazi concentration camp survivor, says: “Everything can be taken from a man or a woman but one thing: the last of human freedoms — to choose one’s attitude in any given set of circumstances, to choose one’s own way.” Happiness is not found in a future golden ticket. It’s something we choose today, tomorrow, and forever. If we wait for something magical to happen to us we will end up disappointed.
Choose happiness today, and we all end up winners.
This column is the opinion of Claire Kincaid, a sophomore at Soldotna High School. Parts were inspired by an article entitled “Forget Me Not” in the November 2011 issue of Ensign magazine.