There's always a way to find something to appreciate.
The whole world could be screwing you over, playing with your emotions, testing you to the brink of your sanity just to see how much you can take until you break. It could push you off the edge and kick you when you're down, but I promise you there is always happiness hidden where you least expect it.
It could be an inside joke you share with your mom, a special curly fry mixed in with your regular fries, or the discovery of an old piece of artwork. Compile the little things that make every day special and suddenly life might not seem so boring anymore.
Kindness spreads but so does sadness and hate and resent. This isn't to say that you're not allowed to complain because you are. You're allowed to be mad and sad and frustrated, but you also must know that these emotions aren't your only options. When one bad thing happens, we tend to add it onto another bad thing that happened which reminds us of yet another bad thing that happened and suddenly we feel overwhelmed with all the bad. But if we learn to see the tiny little good things as collections of good things, suddenly we may come to realize how much good is in the world.
I learned this lesson a few months back when I was at a debate competition. And let me make this clear: I am not good at debate competitions. But my debate teacher had decided I would go and for months I practiced every single day. I wore myself thin just memorizing speeches and researching important topics. I couldn't wait to get to the competition and show off everything that I had learned.
It was a new experience for me, but when I got there it seemed that I was the only person who was in that situation. Everyone around me had been debating for years and I couldn't help but feel terribly intimidated and like all their smiles must've been fake.
This wasn't only with the competitors, even the judges certainly didn't seem to like me very much, giving me grades of "very poor" and "needs improvement". I felt like I had failed my debate teacher and every time I went up to share my speeches and debates I was utterly embarrassed by every stutter and stumble.
I felt down, I was self-conscious, and I didn't know how I was going could continue the competition for two more days.
But then, between rounds, I went to the bathroom. A couple other girls were also in the bathroom, but they had left soon after I entered, leaving just me and the cleaning lady facing each other not head-on but through the mirror.
I washed my hands and met her eyes in the mirror and she smiled at me, at which point I, of course, smiled back. This is when I thought that it couldn't have been easy, what she did, working at possibly the most prestigious private high school I've ever seen in my life, watching people go by without a moment of appreciation for all the work she did. It must not have been easy to live as if you are a ghost. To see teenagers make terrible messes and not realize how they are suddenly gone within the hour.
But this didn't show on this janitor's face. She could have so easily been resentful. Towards me and my uniform and tie, looking like the world had gotten me down even though the world had done nothing of the sort. She simply asked me how my day was going in which I gave my automatic, mindless reply of, "Good, how about yours?"
She nodded and told me genuinely that she was doing very well. She wondered out loud what we were all doing here, seeing as we were students who weren't wearing the uniform she was used to seeing. And I explained it to her.
I told her we were at a debate competition, while simultaneously enjoying the fabulous city it was held in. I explained how there were many different categories in which students from all over the world came and displayed their talents for everyone to watch excitedly. I even told her how much fun I was having being able to speak with people from different walks of earth, from countries I have always wanted to visit, and how exciting it was that we had all gathered together at this incredible event because of something as simple as public speaking.
She looked to be in awe and she smiled widely the most beautiful smile. She told me how amazing what I was doing was and how fun it must be. She said that this all seemed to be a magnificent opportunity and that she was jealous of us young people.
And it was this moment that I realized that I had spoken the truth when I spoke and she had been right when she spoke. The opportunity was something I was to treasure and though I made a fool of myself on stage, I was able to watch so many amazing speeches, sight-see in a beautiful town, and step far out of my comfort zone.
The cleaning lady, though I never knew her name, was the nicest, sweetest, most wholesome person I met at the competition and she didn't let the fact that she was cleaning a high school bathroom get in the way of appreciating life and spreading kindness to others like me.
Now, whenever I feel sad or lost I remember the janitor friend I had for five minutes in a random high school bathroom and how she was so kind to me. And I tell myself to be that cleaning lady and just smile because there's always something worth smiling about.