Jesus said, “Verily I say unto you, Except ye be converted, and become as little children, ye shall not enter into the kingdom of heaven” (Matthew 18:3).

One of the attributes children have is the ability to be happy.

Children are naturally happy.

I have seen children on almost every continent—many of whom have little of the world’s goods but big smiles on their faces. These children don’t wait for happiness. They choose to be happy now. For years my mom had a little plaque in her kitchen that read, “Happiness is a city in the state of mind.” Regardless of the state, province, or nation in which they were born, children know the City of Happiness—it is their birthright.

When I was a sixth grade teacher, I taught a deaf girl who was a quick learner and a gifted lip reader, but her happiness bucket was already half empty. Being mainstreamed into a public school classroom for the first time was challenging her socially and academically. When it was time for lunch I always walked my students down the hall, and if we had to wait in a long line I would sing little songs while we waited. You can imagine how that must have looked to a girl who could not hear.

After one such impromptu concert, when the rest of the class went into the lunchroom this girl pulled me aside and said in her broken English, “Mr. Wilcox, you are always happy! Don’t you have any problems?”

That was the moment for which I had waited. I knelt down to be right at her eye level, and I said, “Watch my lips. Don’t take your eyes off my lips. Yes. I have problems, but you can have problems and you can be happy at the same time.”

I don’t think anyone had ever told her that.

It made a difference.

It can make a difference for us too.

Brad Wilcox
Brad Wilcox has lived in Ethiopia, Chile, and New Zealand; he and his family now make their home amid the Rocky Mountains. Brad taught sixth grade before obtaining his PhD in education from the University of Wyoming. His contributions as an author and teacher have been honored by the Geraldine R. Dodge Foundation, and his work has appeared in Guideposts magazine and Reader’s Digest. He has served as a member of the National Executive Board of the Boy Scouts of America and has addressed thousands of youth and adults across the United States, Europe, Australia, and Japan. He and his wife, Debi, are the parents of four children.
Brad Wilcox
Brad Wilcox

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