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Don't Be Aristotle's Cow

I forgot how much I enjoyed philosophy. Don’t worry Dad, I’m not going to major in it, (poor philosophy majors get a bad rap in the career world) but nonetheless, I find the material especially engaging and pertinent for the project. I happen to be in the introductory ethics course, where we are studying morality and yes, my favorite, happiness.
We recently read one of Aristotle’s pieces discussing how every human strives for happiness as their ultimate goal, however, no two people can agree on what exactly that is. He says that a majority of us are like “cows chewing cud,” finding happiness in the mundane, meaningless, and simple pleasures of life. Others of us find pleasure from earning a high reputation and being “successful,” which is really a fruitless pursuit in his eyes. For when we base our happiness on what others think of us, we are easily shattered when we lose that esteem from others—instead, it must come from within.
It is the happiness that is derived from a life of fulfillment that makes us the most happy. From my personal experience, and from what hundreds of other teens have told me, it is the people in our lives that bring such a fulfillment. It’s our family, our friends, and any loved one that brings immeasurable joy. Of course, enjoying the little joys in life brings a great deal of momentary happiness, and earning “success” and a “good reputation” buffers against unhappiness. But more than anything, it’s the people. The people that we laugh with, cry with, and experience life with. That brings us happiness—Aristotle thought so in 400 B.C. and I think so now.
Keep shining,
The Sunny Girl, Lauren Cook
The Sunny Girl, Lauren Cook

Sunny Star: Mia Abboud

Mia is such an amazing, altruistic girl. I first learned about her story when she offered to write about her personal happiness for my upcoming book. I’ve interviewed about 100 teens and Mia’s story was especially poignant to me. She cares about other people in a profound way, as does her family. Not only does she volunteer her time with autistic children, her family has adopted a child so that they can help just one more human being in this world. I invite you to read Mia’s story; it is such a joy to introduce her as this week’s Sunny Star.
1. Can you tell us about your work with autistic children and teens?

MA: I am an autistic aid which means that I help children who are affected by autism with both social and educational problems that they may have. For example with the 11 year old that I work with now, we have goals that include maintaining eye contact, engaging with me in conversations and activities not of his choosing, and playing with other children that he doesn’t know. It has really been a great opportunity for me because I hope to be a pediatrician when I am older.

2. What has been the best part of this work and how has it affected your happiness?

MA: The best part for me is when he knows that he has done a good job. My small amount of praise that I give him puts a huge smile on his face and he is in a great mood for the duration of the session. Also, when I work with him we have to read a story each time which isn’t one of his strong skills, but when he sounds out a word all by himself, it makes him so happy which makes me realize that what I am doing is making a real difference. My happiness has been affected in so many ways by this one little boy. I love going to work, which many people wouldn’t say!

3. What has been the most challenging aspect of this work and how has it affected your happiness?

MA: The biggest challenge I have faced is getting him to open up to me as his aid. In the begging he was hesitant to tell me when he needed help so we weren’t really making progress for the first few weeks. But once he warmed up to me, he would let me know what he needed help with, such as with his reading, math homework, or introducing himself to another child. Now we are extremely close and I honestly consider him one of my best friends. I am so happy when I am with him because he can make me laugh super easily which makes our sessions go by very quickly.

4. Can you tell us what it was like adopting a sibling and how this affected your family and your happiness?

MA: Adopting my brother, Conner, was one of the hardest things my family has ever been through. The adoption process is very long and involves multiple steps that take a very long time to complete. Not knowing if we were going to adopt him was very stressful and pushed my family to our limits. And the added stress of Conner having to stay in the NICU for 3 1/2 weeks almost made it unbearable. But as soon as we got the word that we were eligible to adopt, all of our stresses disappeared and we could focus on our newest addition. All in all, the adoption process took a little under a year. On April 1st 2010 Conner was officially a member of the Abboud family which is one of the best days of my life. I am so happy to have him in my family and to have him healthy and happy!

5. You have a passion for children. Why do you want to become a pediatrician and how does working toward this goal affect your happiness?

MA: I want to be a pediatrician because I love working with children! And I think it’s because I am still a child at heart. I know that working towards my goal is going to take a LONG time, but I know that in the end it will all be worth it. I have always wanted to work with children and knowing that I am working towards my goal makes me so excited that I cannot even put in words!

Keep shining,
The Sunny Girl, Lauren Cook
The Sunny Girl, Lauren Cook

The Sunny Set #270

When my toes start tapping, I start smiling. Dancing brings me a tremendous amount of happiness; ballet, ballroom, or even the awkward freestyle dancing that always happens when “Shout” is played at a wedding. I come from a family of dancers; my dad would dance with me when I was a little girl and he can still dance the swing like no other. Dancing will always bring me bliss, as it does for so many others.
My sorority recently went out to a restaurant where there just so happened to be a salsa club. I could hardly sit through dinner; I was so anxious to get out on the dance floor! We eventually did, and we had so much fun laughing and dancing to the live band. Suddenly, a less-than-tall man approached me and asked me to dance; and boy, could he! We salsa danced for a good long while and the feeling was absolutely exhilarating.
That is why I want to officially complete Sunny Set…
#270: Dance at a salsa club.
This time I want to do it officially and plan ahead—and go with a dance partner that I actually know beforehand. I’m so excited to head back and get on the dance floor. Maybe I’ll even learn some new moves.
Get on your dancing shoes this week and have some fun!
Keep shining,
The Sunny Girl
The Sunny Girl, Lauren Cook
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