This week marks the one-year anniversary of the start to locking things down to stop the spread of COVID-19. As I sat and reflected on this past year, I was getting a bit depressed. I still see people hurting. I know people who have lost loved ones to COVID and our own house dealt with the sickness last November. I see our government arguing over how to best help people and people on social media fighting over whether they should be forced to vaccinate and wear masks. It was bumming me out just reflecting on the year. Then I stumbled across Jaden Hayes and a news story from back in 2015 and my whole attitude changed.
Jaden was 4 years old when his dad passed away and 5 when his mom died…a child’s greatest nightmare! Jaden not long afterwards told his aunt and now his guardian that he was “sick and tired of seeing everyone sad all the time.” So, Jaden did something about it. He asked his aunt to buy some small toys like rubber ducks and dinosaurs and he went downtown and started handing them out to people who were not smiling. In the news story you could just see the joy and appreciation on people’s faces…and in turn what it did to Jaden’s mood.
Jaden lives the idea that is discussed in Mandt: Affirm our feeling but choose our behaviors. Jaden tells the reporter, Steve Hartman, that he is still sad that his mom died. Jaden’s goal when he started out was to get 33,000 people to smile. I am guessing he crushed that number just with the number of people who watched that news story. I know I smiled…after I wiped away the tears flowing down my face. It was the lesson I needed reminding of at just the right time.
I can affirm that I am sad, I am frustrated, and I am still scared. I do however still get to choose my behaviors. I can turn off the social media, stop focusing on all the fighting, get my vaccination, still wear a mask when I am out and reach out to my friends who are hurting and suffering. Ultimately, I can take my lesson from a young boy and I can help make others smile, even while I deal with my own hurts and suffering. If everyone who reads this simply goes out of their way to help one other person smile today, we can help Jaden in his goal to get people to smile.
Tim Geels – Director of Instruction and Governance.
Here is the link to Jaden’s story: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=OCPc2RlMTII&t=1s