This past school year, I was chosen as the faculty speaker for Manchester Memorial high school’s graduation ceremony. It was a great honor considering that I attended Memorial myself and had only been teaching there for four years. Right when I was told that the students had picked me to be their commencement speaker, I knew exactly what I was going to talk about in my speech. I also knew it would not be easy to talk about.
“Live and be happy” is a simple phrase and words of advice with a very powerful meaning. I knew I wanted to center my speech around this four-word phrase, because it has a special meaning to me and my life. I also knew that the students would be able to connect it to whatever they chose to pursue after high school. The story behind it would be the difficult part for me to explain because of how emotional the story is.
“Live and be happy” are the last words of advice that both my mom and papa told me before they passed away almost three years ago. Neither knew they had told me the same exact advice, but both realized the impact it would have on me. When first digesting their advice after they had both passed away, it seemed simple enough to do. Live my life to the fullest and make sure that I am happy with whatever I am doing in my life. Happiness is never an easy task when losing someone you love and look up to. Living your life to the fullest isn’t easy, either, but I knew I had to find out how to do both in such a difficult time for me.
Luckily I had many loving friends and family to help me through this time of sorrow and grief. During this time I also met my now wife, who helped me love again and find happiness when I thought it was no longer possible. I was able to focus on what would makes me happy and how to obtain it. I also learned that happiness is not just one element but, multiple things put together. Not everything is going to go your way all of the time with every element but you have to be able to understand that and overcome those obstacles. Understanding is very key, because you need to be able to put yourself in someone else’s shoes in order to fully grasp where they are coming from. Through understanding other people, you also learn patience. Being able to have patience for others and yourself makes obtaining happiness that much easier.
I realized while writing the commencement speech that the advice I was trying to convey to the outgoing seniors was also applicable to everyone else. I am not saying that I have the key to happiness and every other problem you may face, but it might help to take a minute to really think about what really makes you happy. After the graduation ceremony, I had several students tell me how much they appreciated my speech and that they knew how I felt when I lost my loved ones. It meant a lot to me that I was given the opportunity to give some words of wisdom to the future generation of our country, and I really hope they took it to heart.
There is a reason I end every column and radio show with those four words. I try to live by them every single day, and I hope that you can too.
Thanks for reading and until next week, live and be happy!
This column is dedicated to my mom, Kathy Dion, and my papa, John Kubit.
Ben Dion hosts The Weekly Dion live Thursdays at 6 p.m. on 95.3 FM WMNH, Manchester’s only downtown radio station. Follow him on Twitter @BenDionNH and @TheWeeklyDion. Contact Ben at firstname.lastname@example.org