I will admit…I’m guilty. I’m guilty for letting small things ruin my mood. I’m guilty for letting something negative empower me. I’m guilty for choosing to be unhappy over being happy. Some things are out of our control, and life can throw us curve balls (like putting my 13-year-old yellow lab down on Friday.) Like my mama always told me, “You can cry and yell all you want and you can throw yourself a pity party, just make sure you don’t stay in it.” So why is it that the guy driving 20 in a 30-mph zone is making me upset? Or, my toothpaste falling off my toothbrush, my coffee pot overflowing leaving me with no coffee, or having someone lined up with a cart-full of stuff in the 20 items of less aisle at Wal-Mart. I’m guilty for letting something get to me that will not affect me tomorrow, in a month, or in the next year.
In this TedTalk episode, Sam Berns, a 17-year-old boy with Progeria explains his philosophy to happiness. Although extremely rare, Progeria is a progressive genetic disorder that causes children to age rapidly. Only weighing 50 lbs., Sam had a dream of playing the snare drum in his high school marching band. With the harness weighing 40 lbs., Sam and his family worked with an engineer to produce a harness that would be easier and lighter for him to carry. With progress and hard work, the product came out to weighing only 6 pounds.
“Last year, my mom and her team of scientist published the first successful Progeria Treatment Study. [And] because of this I was interviewed on NPR and John Hamilton asked me the question: ‘what is the most important thing people should know about you?’ [and] my answer was simply that I have a very happy life.” (Sam Berns)
With enough reason to be unhappy, Sam finds a terrific outlook on life that should inspire people everywhere. Sam quotes Ferris Bueller, “Life moves pretty fast. If you don’t stop and look around once in a while, you could miss it.” Having that being said, when someone says 2013 I think “oh that was a few years ago,” NOPE. That was 4 years ago!!! We are so busy making plans, counting down time, and waiting for something to happen that we actually forget to live life day by day.
Sam’s philosophy starts with “be OK with what you ultimately can’t do, because there is so much you CAN do.” Being 5’7, 150 pounds, and leg pressing 400 lbs, (in high school I might add) I had an athletic build. I played soccer for 12 years, so I was always lifting or running in the off season, and playing games in the spring season. I could play volleyball, pickleball, bowling, tennis, football, even bad mitten. However, I COULD NOT dribble a basketball for the life of me. Having a decent height on me, I always got asked around thanksgiving “are you going to play basketball this year?” Have I ever? Nooooo. Not being able to dribble or play the game of basketball was okay with me, because I knew that I wasn’t going to be good at everything. I knew I could play soccer, draw, paint, eat an entire medium size pizza in one sitting, and drive a stick shift. Not everyone can do the things I can do either, and that’s why everyone is different.
The second part of Sam’s philosophy was, “surround yourself with people you want to be with.” Sam shows a silly photo with him and his group of friends. One thing I love to do is laugh! I love being funny, and surrounding myself with people I can vibe off. One of the toughest things in life is relationships. I had friends in high school who I thought were my friends, but it took me a long time to realize that all they wanted to do was drink beer and talk smack about other people. I wanted to live life, I wanted to go up to the mountains and take pictures, or go night sledding, or go saran wrap someone’s car (as a joke). So, I made the tough decision to break off that kind of relationship with them. I was civil and respectful, but I no longer needed to sit and degrade someone when I wasn’t being a good person myself. It’s tough to break off things, but the older I get the less tolerance I have for bull spit!
Lastly, Sam’s third part is “keep moving forward.” Or as Dory says, “just keep swimming.” Something that everyone, especially me, need to remember. In the beginning when I mentioned the slow driver impacting my mood, I need to remember that my day will go on. This guy isn’t going to put an apocalypse on my life, and maybe there was a reason he was driving slow. I don’t understand everything, and I don’t need to. The only thing I need to understand is that life keeps going on.
Thank you for your wise words, Sam. You truly lived a rich life.
Sam Berns, 1996-2014