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The Secret This work has been published in the Teen Ink monthly print magazine.


     I'lllet you in on a little secret that has set me on the path to happiness. I'll tellyou only because I wish happiness for everyone. My family taught me it when I wasjust a little girl.

I remember that moment clearly: my mother and fathersat me in a chair after a mean little boy had pushed me into the snow and brokenmy glasses. I was teary-eyed and just wanted to go and push him back. In a clearand gentle voice my mother told me, "Treat others the way you yourself wouldlike to be treated." Those eleven words began my walk on the trail tohappiness.

Ever since Mom's mini-lecture, I've been inspired to help thosein need and to treat everyone equally. In sixth grade I used to spend all my timeat the arcade playing The Crane. If you have never heard of it, the object is towin stuffed animals by catching them with mechanical tongs. I used to have bagsand bags full of cute little animals. Then I got to thinking about what I shoulddo with them, and remembered Mom's little phrase. I went to a nursing home andasked permission to distribute the animals. I strolled from room to room, talkingto the patients. They told me stories galore; I heard all about their lives. Theycould talk for hours, and I would listen. I started going there on a regularbasis.

One day I met a man named Joseph whom I will never forget. He wouldsing the most beautiful songs and tell me all about his gorgeous wife. Joseph hadto be strapped into his wheelchair because he wanted to get out of the buildingso badly. He hated it there. I tried to keep him company, and soon he waited forme to come and didn't even think about leaving. It made me happy to see a smilelight up his face when I appeared; that is something I will remember for the restof my life.

Last year I went to Colorado on a mission to help thehomeless. It was probably the greatest time I've ever had. The first night wewent to a church, but it wasn't an ordinary church - it was for the homeless, andan ex-convict who used to be homeless was their priest. The service includedsongs and a sermon, and then everyone was fed. I served food and went aroundtalking to the people. They told me how they had become homeless and aboutexperiences they'd had. I remember seeing people of all ages and wondering how Icould help. I knew I couldn't help every one of them, but I wanted to try. Iplayed games with some who seemed out of it because of drugs, and chatted withthe men drinking Listerine because it was Sunday and the liquor stores wereclosed. That first night was a huge shock. It brought tears to myeyes.

The next day we went to shelters in Denver and cleaned. We went tomale and female shelters, and, unfortunately, children's shelters. The sheltersfor children were the hardest to deal with, but everywhere we went we metextraordinary and marvelous people who had just followed the wrong path in life.As much as it made me sad, I felt that same spark I'd had when I walked intoJoseph's room.

I thank my parents for teaching me such a great secret.It's a secret that is in front of everyone to grab, but some just don't. My wishis for all to feel the great sensation of knowing you have helped someone inneed. If you have never felt it, you haven't lived life to the fullest.




This work has been published in the Teen Ink monthly print magazine. This piece has been published in Teen Ink’s monthly print magazine.






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