October 2, 2009

A Scout is Cheerful

JGrahamBy James N. Graham

By way of introduction, my name is James N. Graham, and I am the son of the recently deceased publisher of 50+ Lifestyles, Jim Graham. Loyal readers of this publication know that my father wrote
frequently about the value of Scouting and the wisdom contained in the Boy Scout Law. For my Dad, the Scout Law was a recipe for ethical behavior. His previous articles explored the first 7 laws leaving us at: A Scout is “cheerful.”

When the original Scout Law was published by Lord Baden-Powell in 1908, it contained the instruction that “a Scout smiles and whistles under all circumstances.” According to Baden-Powell, “When you just miss a train, or some one treads on your favourite corn—not that a Scout ought to have such things as corns— or under any annoying circumstances, you should force yourself to smile at once, and then whistle a tune, and you will be all right. A Scout goes about with a smile on and whistling. It cheers him and cheers other people, especially in time of danger, for he keeps it up then all the same.”

At first blush, the instruction to “force yourself to smile at once, and then whistle a tune‚” sounds like a type of denial or delusion. However, we know that an optimistic attitude generally yields better outcomes. If you make yourself act happy, you will tend to be happy.

Try an experiment the next time you are angry or melancholic. Force yourself to laugh – vocally and loudly – from your belly. You can feel the power of cheer affecting your mind and helping you to be less upset.

My father was the type of person that always tried to leave you with a smile on your face. He loved to play tricks and to poke fun, but it was never mean spirited or cruel – he was playful. This kind of play is infectious and the source of such cheer is true caring about the happiness of others as well as yourself. Even when they tread on “your favourite corn.”

Filed Under: Personal Growth

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