I think there’s a tiny narcissist that lives inside each of us, especially if we’re parents. Though we may not admit it, we really do want our kids to be chips off the old blocks. That’s why a little piece of me dies inside, every time my son complains about having to write another essay. How can he not see how much fun writing is? How does he not understand that writing is like finger painting with words? And really. Who doesn’t like to finger paint?

So when he brought me the following essay and told me he wrote it for a class assignment, my heart did a tiny little somersault. Though it did need a bit of tweaking for spelling and grammar, the content was all his. When he told me it wasn’t for a grade . . . it was just one of those in-class practice essays, I wanted to cry. This one is too good to be relegated to the circular file. The message is too important.

He may not be a chip off the block, but I think there’s a bit of a splinter here. I introduce to you my son, in his debut article:

Can a person choose to be happy?

By Foster Brumbaugh

Have you ever allowed someone else’s rudeness to ruin your day? Many times we want to blame others for our lack of happiness. However, the control center for our emotions is right inside our brains. Proverbs 23:7 tells us, “For as he thinks in his heart, so is he.” Happiness, as well as unhappiness, boils down to our own choice to be one or the other.

I believe a person can choose whether or not to be happy. One of my friends always has a negative outlook. I will say, “Isn’t it a beautiful day outside?”

He will respond by saying, “I guess,” or “I don’t really pay attention.”

This person tries to affect the way I look at things and put me in a bad mood. But I just smile and think about all the good in the world, and all the wonderful things God has placed on this earth, and it draws the negativity right out. My thoughts about goodness help me have a good rest of my day. This example shows that a person can choose to be happy.

Another example is my grandfather. My grandfather had carcinoid cancer, but that didn’t cause him to lie around all day, drowning in his sorrow. He made memories with his grandkids, went hunting, and even mowed the yard up until he passed away. Even though he was in pain, he didn’t want his grandkids to remember him as a sick, unhappy man. Instead, he wanted them to remember him for the hardworking, God-fearing man he was. While a lot of people might have cried and asked God why, my grandfather chose to be happy.

In conclusion, each person has the choice to be happy or not. If we choose to fill our minds with positive thoughts, we will become positive people. If we choose to have negative thoughts, we will be in a bad mood and will have unhappy lives. Deuteronomy 30:19 says, “I have set before you life and death, blessings and curses. Now choose life.” Which will you choose?

Renae Brumbaugh Green is a bestselling author and award-winning humor columnist. She lives in Stephenville with her handsome, country-boy husband, nearly-perfect children, and far too many animals. Connect with Renae at www.RenaeBrumbaugh.com.