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What Brooks and Dunn Taught Me

Hi friends! I wrote this article for UCLA’s newspaper, The Odyssey. I think it still relates to your life though, no matter where you go to school or if you are even in school. Happiness is for everyone no matter where you are in your life. Enjoy!

It’s the Monday after Stagecoach and I’m feeling slightly jealous that I wasn’t there to don my cowboy hat and boots. I love country music, plain and simple. Then again, who doesn’t? It seems like just about everyone I knew was taking Indio, California by storm. So to make up for the time lost in country music paradise to study for midterms, I heard a song on the radio that caught my attention by Brooks and Dunn: “Red Dirt Road.”

It seemed like a typical 105.1 station song more or less, until I heard a line that made me think: “I learned that happiness on earth ain’t just for high achievers.”

Now as UCLA students, I’m sure you can relate to this in someway—ask yourself honestly, how much of your happiness comes from landing the job you wanted, getting the grade you were going after, or earning your goal GPA? I know that I’ve done this before and to clarify, I don’t think it’s a bad thing. But it certainly shouldn’t be everything.

There’s only so much we can do to be that “high achiever” that we all want to be. And while getting happiness from our accomplishments is great, I think it should serve as a bonus rather than a baseline. This song is on to something—true happiness comes from people, not grade points or paychecks. Sure it’s a balance, but if you don’t have anyone to share your success with that happiness is going to be much shorter lived.

True happiness always comes down to people. Whether you were at Stagecoach with your friends or studying for midterms—it’s the people that surround you that make the experience all worthwhile. At the end of the day we have to remember that no one is entitled to happiness—as UCLA students we don’t deserve to have a happier life because we like to be “high achievers” like the song suggests. No, with happiness there is no discrimination. You can have the best grades in the world but if you don’t have friends, happiness is hard to come by.

So take time this week to savor those friendships. And if you are a “high achiever” by nature, go ahead and appreciate those times of success—just don’t base your self-worth on ridiculously high standards that you may be setting. Achievement is a fickle thing; for as hard as you may work, a bad stroke of luck could take it away. Don’t put your happiness whole-heartedly in your grades or your money. Invest your happiness in your friendships, your family, and your life and you can have happiness no matter what you achieve.

Keep shining,

The Sunny Girl, Lauren Cook

The Sunny Girl, Lauren Cook

The Golden Rule Revised

A few questions to start your day:

1. How often do you make eye contact with people?

2. How often do you smile at people, even if they’re a stranger?

3. How often do you hug your friends?

4. How often do you speak sincerely?

5. How often do you have a friendly conversation with someone you don’t know very well?

I think we should strive to meet each of these questions on a daily basis. What it all comes down to is being a nice, friendly person. I think if we all lived with these 5 questions in mind, the world would be a much happier place. It’s simple really; be kind to others regardless of whether they’re your best friend, a stranger, or even an “enemy.” (However, I don’t think we should give anyone a label as an enemy, it’s not good for our wellbeing).

I know the Golden Rule says to treat others as you would like to be treated. That’s all fine and dandy but if we’re going to take it a step further, we have to treat others as they SHOULD be treated, with the mindset that everyone can be a good person. We shouldn’t treat others with kindness only hoping that we’ll have the favor returned. True kindness is being kind for kindness’ sake alone.

So I encourage you to answer these five questions with a resounding YES to them all by the end of the day. You can do it!

Keep shining,

The Sunny Girl, Lauren Cook

The Sunny Girl, Lauren Cook

Why It’s Good to Get a “No”

Why it may be good to get this face every now and then.

No, you can’t do this. No, you can’t have that. I’ve been feeling like a toddler again with all the no’s I’ve been hearing lately. Competition is fierce in the collegiate world and we’re all bound to get our fair share of no’s in our attempts to succeed. But as frustrating as the nay-sayers may be, I believe they have a purpose. They’re just as important as the yessers. They push us to be better, to not get complacent, and to keep trying.

So here’s why we should actually be thankful for the no’s, perhaps even more than the yesses:

1. They inspire creativity. We have to break outside of the box when we’ve gotten a no. What can we do differently while still being true to ourselves? Einstein said, “Success is not final, failure is not fatal: it is the courage to continue that counts.” We have to always keep trying. Nothing would be accomplished in this world if people didn’t pick themselves up and dust off. Start over with a new perspective.

2. They remind us to take baby steps. Whether you’re a big picture thinker or you live in the moment, you’ve got to lay the groundwork before you can get to the top. I remember wanting to work at Disney when I was a freshman and feeling disappointed when I wasn’t interviewed. But I had NO work experience! After interning at two other companies, I was then able to get my internship with Disney. You’ve got to start from the bottom up and enjoy the process as you go. Chances are that you’ll learn more in those first few experiences anyway.

3. They keep us in check. I always say we need to balance our bites of proud and humble pie. Sure, you need confidence, but you also need humility. Getting a “no” is a healthy dose of reality that reminds us there is always room to grow. We’ve never reached our pinnacle—a “no” is simply a reminder of that. Isn’t that better anyway? Because once you’ve reached the top, where can you go but downhill?

4. They give us gratitude. Rejection makes us appreciate what we do have in our lives. Perhaps you have amazing friends, you go to UCLA (!!!), or you love your job. When you stop and think about it, you’ve probably gotten more “yesses” than you realize. Don’t take a single one for granted. Every time you get a yes it means that someone believes in you. You’re worth it.

5. They keep us motivated. I believe we are better off when we have clear goals in mind. We can never settle, especially not at this age. In fact, I think it’s a good thing to feel slightly uncomfortable at our future at this age. It challenges us to be certain of what we want in our lives and to fight fiercely for it. Just not Trojan style. Be a true Bruin and go for your goals in the honest, fair, and earnest way that we do.

Keep shining,

The Sunny Girl, Lauren Cook

The Sunny Girl, Lauren Cook
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