Thursday, June 22, 2017

The Graduation Speech that Brought Some Parents to Tears (Message to the Class of 2017)

Be happy.

And a key to happiness is not being so serious. Most of us are way too serious. Just loosen up a little and don’t worry about what somebody else has to say or think about you. I know that seems easier said than done, and I promise it is probably going to take time for you to feel confident enough for this to happen. But when you’re ready for it, it will be an amazing feeling- The idea that you can just be you and not take yourself too seriously because you don’t care what other people think about you. 

I’m not saying there aren’t times when you have to be serious by the way. And here comes a second key to being happy. There are some serious things we have to deal with. Some of us have health issues. Some of us have (or may have) money problems. Some of us have relationship problems with people around us or people we’d like to love. Some of us have problems with politics. I’m saying that we have to find a way to get outside of our problems because if we get too far sucked in, we’ll stay in an unhappy place.

“I am an old man and have known a great many troubles, but most of them never happened” so said Mark Twain.

How many times have you thought about all the problems that may have happened but didn’t...that you thought were about to happen but didn’t...that you think will happen in the future but probably won’t? Listen to Twain- he thought about a great many troubles, but in the end, most of them never happened.

So just live in the moment. It's really hard not to think into the future or obsess about the past. I struggle with this every day. I think about the things I did wrong in my past. I think about the things that might go wrong in my future. Our thoughts can really control us if we let them. Half the time, the thoughts about our problems are just not real.

Stop and reflect- We don’t even realize when our mind is taking control of us with bad thoughts. It’s not until we get wrapped up in something we totally enjoy, like watching a great movie, going to an awesome concert, that we recognize how the negative energy in our head has control of us a lot of the time.

What were to happen if you simply said to yourself after tonight, “Hey- I’m not going to obsess about the past or the future; I’m just going to think a lot about the things around me, the people I’m with and the things I’m doing right now.”

I’m straight-talking about two keys to happiness here. First- Taking life too seriously leads to being a stressed out, scared, angry, boring human being in bad health. Second- Stop obsessing about the past and future because it will only drag you into a dark place out of which it will be hard to climb.

That’s what I have to share tonight. I really care about all of you so my message is coming to you from my heart. Just as much as independence, maturity, and kindness, so do I want you to come back to Highland Park High School to visit in the days ahead filled with happiness. That’s ultimately what I want from you. Don’t be so serious and enjoy life (without hurting anyone in the process).

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