Put on a happy face

Walking through the hallways at Cedar Falls High School, it is easy to identify students who’ve had a good or bad day by their body language and facial expression. But there are also several students who look happy even when caught off guard, even when tired, even when overworked or irritated. These are the students who radiate happiness. When around them, other people develop a better mood, and talking with them can change one’s philosophy of life. So, why do these students have so much to smile about?

Junior Katie Meier said she really made an effort to be more positive to people after experiencing moving to a new school in ninth grade. “I try to be happy because I know my mood affects others, and I try to see the optimistic side,” Meier said. The world would be different with more positive outlooks like Meier’s. “There would be more friendships, less fighting and a better environment to live and grow up in,” Meier said. “The secret to staying positive is to be focused on others as well as yourself. Also, when I’m happy, it makes me feel better about everything.”

Evan Fairbanks cartoon

Sophomore Beth Wells has also adapted to a lot of moves throughout her lifetime, which has included learning to make new friends. “I feel one key thing to making friends is to be a positive and friendly person to be around. If you are nice and happy, I feel most people will reciprocate it, and it will go better,” Wells said. Wells tries to be nice to everyone so that people will want to be around her. “I feel like sometimes negative people can bring a good mood down, so I try to be positive and happy,” she said. Wells tries not to waste one moment on negativeness. “When I get up in the mornings, I remind myself that the day can be whatever I decide to make it, and I can make it good,” she said. “The hangup about negativity is it’s not going to change your situation. The key about positivity is that it can change your situation. If you look at things with that positive attitude, you really do feel better. Also, I think if we are all positive, we will be more accepting and nice to other people. That could do tons of good for us.”

“Laughter is contagious, and laughter brings happiness. Transitive Property: Happiness is contagious. If you’re happy, you can make others happy.” -Junior Alyssa Vuong

Junior Richie Korneisel wasn’t always a frequent smiler. Throughout junior high school he was bullied and had only a few friends he felt like he could really talk to. “After the bullies started leaving me alone, I knew that I would never want anyone else feeling as bad as I did that whole school year. So eighth grade was the big turning point in my life. I started talking to more people and being more kind to everyone. Eventually I had friends in all different grades and became friends with all of the little groups that the other students put themselves into,” Korneisel said.  Now he tries to smile every day. “[Smiling] makes others see you as more approachable. It makes me happy, and you never know, it could brighten someone else’s day too. The best feeling is to see someone who is having a bad day or is going through a tough time and being able to talk to them and make them smile and laugh,” Korneisel said. He strongly believes that he individually can have an impact on the people around him. “You never know how much saying ‘hi’ to someone in the hallway, or talking to someone for a couple minutes in class, or giving someone a compliment can affect how they feel. The secret to being happy is simple. Be happy with yourself, put yourself out there and don’t underestimate the impact you have on others,” Korneisel said.

Junior Alyssa Vuong makes an effort to be nice and friendly to everyone, even when it is hard to do so. “Usually, when I’m alone, I start thinking about my actions earlier in the day, and I like to think, ‘How would I judge myself if I were in someone else’s shoes?’ If I reflect upon my actions, and I come to the conclusion I was being mean or unfriendly, I know I have to change and be nicer to others,” Vuong said. According to her, the world would be a brighter and happier place if they were more positive outlooks on life. “There wouldn’t be as many people with low self-esteem, everyone would be accepting, and more people would be looking forward to the day rather than dreading it,” she said. Her secret to happiness is to not be quick to judge others and be open to smiling and laughing. “Laughter is contagious, and laughter brings happiness. Transitive Property: Happiness is contagious. If you’re happy, you can make others happy,” Vuong said.

Senior Evan Fairbanks also spends time reflecting on his actions. “Before I go to sleep I think about the things that I could have done better the previous day and strive to improve upon them in my days to come,” Fairbanks said. Treating each other equally brews a positive synergy for people to thrive and grow from. “You have to be way cool to all of your peers because we’re all in essence the same people with the same feelings. Once you have an army of friendship on your side, you are invincible. We really need to learn to empathize with one another because we all have the same needs for love and acceptance, and if we focus enough, we can love and accept each other,” Fairbanks said. His secret to happiness is confidence. “You just need to say and do things with the mindset that it’s awesome and everyone around you is going to think it’s awesome. Even if they don’t, you thought it was awesome, and you’re doing a lot more to spread the awesomeness than most people. People need to rid themselves of self-consciousness and just have fun in ways that won’t hurt others or themselves. A lot of people are too embarrassed to be themselves because they’re afraid that they’ll look stupid if they do. The truth is that you look a lot more stupid when you’re trying to uphold some ruse so that people think you’re ‘cool’ and act like you’re better than everyone else,” Fairbanks said.

Sophomore Agatha Fenech often makes decisions to try to create a positive atmosphere when working together with other students. “If in activities people were feeling down or we were having group issues, I would make an extra effort to bring together and motivate the team,” Fenech said. She acts happy because she wants to actually feel happy. “Even if you are having a bad day, acting happy rubs off on the people you are around, so they become happy, and in turn, make you truly happy,” Fenech said. Fenech said she really likes to see people smiling at her in the hallways, so she makes sure to smile at people too. “I remember I saw this motivational poster in elementary school, some of them are really cheesey, but I saw this one that said ‘Attitudes are contagious, is yours worth catching?’ I thought that was a really interesting thought. If you smile, 99 percent of the time someone will smile back. I know if I am having a bad day, and somebody smiles at me, it makes me feel 100 times better, so I smile at everybody, just in case I could make their day better,” she said.

Every morning Fenech thinks about what kind of day she is going to have. “This thought kind of ties back to Harry Potter. In the sixth book, when Slughorn says that the magic of Felix Felicus (lucky potion) is watching an ordinary day become extraordinary. I think you should wake up every day thinking that, because every day you have the opportunity to have an extraordinary day, so I try to go into each day with the most positive, open mindset,” Fenech said.

According to Fenech, acting positively has the uncanny ability to change outcomes. “Even if you are having a bad day, acting positive will show you how much there is to act positive for. I think especially with sports and activities, having a positive attitude and being encouraging can bring the team closer and help everybody accomplish more,” Fenech said.

Fenech said she believes happiness has to do with perspective and being able to appreciate the little things in life. “I think sometimes people can become too focused on what they don’t have and the negatives of life, but there are so many more positive, amazing things that can make you happy and empower you to be who you want to be, but I know instead of thinking ‘Ugh, I have to go to school today,’ I think ‘I get to go to school today and see my best friends.’ There is so much good to think about and appreciate. Why waste your time worrying about what isn’t good?” Fenech asked.

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