Recently, I had one of my board members tell me that he was not too sure about me when I first moved to town, because he thought I was always too happy. At first I took offense at the comment. Of course, in general, I am a happy person, but for some reason, I took that comment as an insult. In general, I do not take offense very easily. If I did, then I am definitely in the wrong business, but I guess I was having a moment of weakness that day. Driving away from his office, I was thinking about the comment. I questioned myself as to why that comment was an insult. My conclusion was that it is not an insult. After thinking about it, I actually think it is one of the nicest compliments anyone has ever paid me.
In my early professional years, I had a real problem with showing my emotions, at least to the closest people around me. Whatever the emotion, whether I was mad, sad, or frustrated, I let the people around me know. During this time, there was something I learned. If I was mad and complained about things, then suddenly all the people around me were mad and complaining too. I truly believe the saying “misery loves company.” Back then, I worked with a friend named Miriam. She had some things happening in her life that gave her reasons to complain, but she never did. As a matter of fact, she would smile while talking to me and somehow she always made me feel good and would put a smile on my face.
Throughout the years since I’ve known Miriam, I sometimes think to myself that I hope I have the ability to make people smile the way Miriam can make me smile. Therefore, for many years I have made a conscious effort to smile, even when I feel like complaining. There are days, however, I fail miserably at this and I’m sure some of you have been a witness to that behavior. Even on those days, I try to not give up on my quest to put a smile on people’s faces. Just like “misery loves company,” I truly believe joy loves company too and sometimes you have to make your own joy — or at least ignore the misery. The misery just brings everyone down and I can’t think of anything productive about that!
As I look back on the comment of me being too happy…well, that puts a smile on my face. Regardless of whether it was intended to be an insult or compliment, I’m taking it as a compliment and hope others who I come in contact with will think I’m too happy as well. Even though there might be sadness or meanness or other bad things around, life in Scotland County is a really good thing. There are great people; we have beautiful surroundings, lots of resources (we can always use more), and lots more to be thankful for each and every day.
So, yes, I’ll take that compliment! I hope you will join me in being too happy!
Tonia Stephenson is president of the Laurinburg/Scotland County Area Chamber of Commerce.