It Takes Courage to be Happy

My young neighbor. Studying what makes her happy at Montclair State University.
My young neighbor. Studying what makes her happy at Montclair State University.

If you were paying any attention to the news last week, you might have noticed that Pope Francis came for a little visit. It was difficult to escape the excitement (and trepidation) surrounding the Pope’s arrival. However, now in the aftermath, I believe the general thought is that it went very well.
I noticed throughout the week that quotes and themes from his speeches would come up on social media. In February of this year, Pope Francis spoke on World Youth Day. He was quoted as saying, “Have the courage to be happy.” I love this quote, and he brought it out again over this past weekend in Philadelphia.
It does take courage to be happy. If you are in a situation that you don’t like, it may take some effort to make a change. The process of change may require some courage. I think this rings true for all people regardless of our age. However, since Pope Francis originally directed this to our youth, so will I.
As a junior or senior in high school, you have a few decisions in front of you in regards to college. Many people you know will try to give you their opinion about where to go and what you should study in college. I say, “Have courage!” Be strong, and speak your mind. Granted there may be parameters such as cost and academic preparation, but ultimately these decisions will affect your life – not anyone else’s. It makes me so sad to hear students say, “My parents think this would be the best major for me.” My response is always, “What do you think?” Or “If you could study something that would make you happy, what would it be?” I am the saddest when a student says, “My parents won’t help me (financially) with my education unless I study XYZ major.” Yes, I have heard it. If you think it makes me sad, think how the student feels. Parents and prospective students – keep in mind that careers evolve. Very few people stay in just one position for their entire career. Think about all the people you know that have studied one thing and went on to be successful in another. Happiness and success go hand in hand.
College students, I ask you, “Do you love what you are studying?” When you are in college, you should be studying what you want to learn. Study something that you find interesting. Usually the students who study a major they are interested in do better academically. Your job at college is to succeed academically. Unless you need a particular certification (such as teaching, accounting, and computer science), most employers will teach you what you need to know once you are on their payroll.
College is four years. It can and should be some of the best four years of your life. You should look back at the time spent in college with great joy and fond memories. College is a time to explore all sorts of possibilities. Try something new. Do what you love most. College is a time to be happy. If you are questioning yourself and your decisions, remember there are many people on campus to help you. Talk to an academic advisor, a faculty member, a staff member, a counselor. Courage starts with a conversation. That’s not so scary. Take a leap of faith. Be courageous!


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