A couple of weeks ago I attended the funeral of a 25-year-old man, Brandon, the son of a friend from church. I didn’t know him well, but I was aware that he was challenged with autism and a seizure disorder.
In spite of those trials, however, Brandon made every effort to live a full, positive, active life. At his funeral I learned that he was the center for fun at family and social gatherings. He loved motorcycles, cars, boats, computers and gaming and wanted others to share in his enjoyment. As he grew up, he worked in his family’s business, earned the rank of Eagle Scout, graduated from high school, and served a church mission. He had just achieved his goal of living on his own at the time of his unexpected death.
Although Brandon’s family and friends grieve him deeply, what they all remembered and shared about this young man was his ability to see the bright side, the fun, the laughter and to draw people to him with love and acceptance. Despite his struggles, he lived according to the counsel of a very wise man, Gordon B Hinckley, whom Brandon admired, and who once encouraged his listeners with the following advice:
“Don’t be gloomy. Do not dwell on unkind things. Stop seeking out the storms and enjoy more fully the sunlight. Even if you are not happy, put a smile on your face. ‘Accentuate the positive.’ Look a little deeper for the good. Go forward in life with a twinkle in your eye and a smile on your face, with great and strong purpose in your heart. Love life.”
It’s easy for me to read counsel like that and think, “Good words. I should do that.” But it’s another thing to accept it into my life, to actually put that smile on my face when I’m not feeling it. Why is it so very much easier to slide into negativity than to allow the Lord’s sunlight, the light of Christ, to put a twinkle in my eye?
As I learned about Brandon’s life, which he lived to the fullest with a smile on his face and love in his heart regardless of his physical struggles, I determined to try to follow his example and look a little deeper for the good in others and practice kindness more often. I want to cultivate that twinkle!