“Don’t cry because it’s over; smile because it happened.”
This is a quote that is usually attributed to Dr. Seuss.
However, there is an older translation from the German poet Ludwig Jacobowski which translates to:
“Do not cry because they are past; smile because they once were!”
This inspiring quote is a reference to the emotions we all feel throughout life.
When we cry, it is because we are profoundly sad (or angry sometimes).
However, to be deeply sad about something also means, at one time, we had to feel other deep emotions about it, like love, joy, or happiness.
That is the point behind this quote.
Without getting to experience something that moved you or deeply affected who you are, there would be nothing to cry over when it ended.
Feeling deep feelings, including sadness, is good for us because :
- it allows us to be real
- it teaches us lessons
- it helps us embrace change
- pain and challenges push us to grow
Don’t cry because it is over; smile because it allowed us to be real
I remember getting to the end of my first marathon about two miles from completion for reasons that I cannot explain; I cried.
Not some mild pain-induced cry but a deep sorrowful weeping.
I wondered what in the world was going on.
Crying is not something I often do, but when I do, there is typically some sort of cause that I can identify.
Maybe all the emotions and doubts came to a close.
There had been moments when I was ready to give up, but here I was, just two miles from completion.
A family that I knew had just been cheering me on and rooting for me, and others were just ahead.
Failure was definitely not going to happen.
I was stoked.
I finished the race and found a tree away from the crowd so I could cry in private.
Fear came on me as I wondered what I would say if someone asked me what was wrong.
I had no answer.
After doing some research, it turns out this is quite normal.
Normally I am seen and want to be seen as unshakable and strong.
My most common mantra is, “I am the storm.”
But here I was with my emotions out of control, and I could not understand why.
I like to be a controlled storm.
I had just completed something I had envisioned for more than a year, and I was proud of myself.
Tears felt like a weird response because I should have been happy.
Maybe I was happy.
Can you sense my confusion?
There was pain, joy, and a whole range of emotions.
I let all those emotions come out, and my family ultimately saw them.
We grew close as a family that day, and I smile as I think back on that moment when I learned they can handle me, whether or not I am in control.
Smile because we learn lessons
The most common reason that people cry is that they are sad.
Something has happened that has impacted them deeply.
Grief causes sadness.
Typically, we only think of grief when death happens around us.
All loss can lead to grief.
One of my children lost a stuffed animal when he was about four years old.
The stuffed animal was a close comfort item, and that the animal never breathed or bled offered no factor in his grief.
His grief was real, and we looked all over the house, hoping to find “Charlie” to ease his pain.
Unfortunately, our search came up empty.
Just like death, he had to work through the pain of loss.
Over a year later, we were getting ready to go camping, and I asked him to grab his sleeping bag, which he happily did.
After setting up camp, he unrolled his sleeping bag, and there in the foot of his sleeping bag was “Charlie.”
You have never seen a child so happy in your life.
Looking back, my young son learned many valuable lessons from that event:
- grief does not last forever
- sometimes, what you lose is returned
- he should have cleaned out his sleeping bag after the last camping trip
Don’t cry because it is over; smile because change is ultimately good
My daughter is beautiful, tough, creative, and brilliant.
She is clumsy and has a ready laugh.
But change is difficult for her.
We recently moved halfway around the country for me to take a new job.
For many months she had put on a bold front.
But one evening, she let the tears flow.
She had surrendered her friends, and she missed them.
The change had shaken her deeper than I realized.
After the tears came, I had to shake away the guilt.
Will she be in therapy because I took a job?
Maybe, but the change was needed for many reasons.
Ultimately, we are more secure as we move away from inner city troubles and out into the country.
We have animals we are raising for food, and her grandparents are now living on our land.
My job is challenging and always interesting.
Recently, she took a job that would have been unthinkable in the neighborhood where we used to live, but she was uniquely qualified for here.
She loves this job, and they gave her a raise just this week.
The job has given her opportunities to show leadership capabilities that would not have been presented to her in our old neighborhood.
She is smiling and forgetting about her tears because she now sees that the change worked out for her.
She learned several lessons from this experience:
- change is good
- bottling up the emotions ensures you are suffering alone
- sharing invites others into your real self
Smile because tough opponents show growth
Unlike in many movies, it is unlikely that they would give a new boxer a shot at the title in any weight division.
A new boxer must prove himself (or herself) with more and more challenging boxers.
A fighter can never get to the top without learning and battling with stronger and more skilled boxers along the way.
That is how we should begin looking at the more difficult seasons of our lives.
We have grown to take on bigger challenges.
Maybe this is why movies have changed dramatically over the past couple of years, with villains getting tougher and tougher.
We find it impossible to grow in any task where we don’t get pushed by those with more skills.
This is true whether we are learning to play chess or take over the world.
We absolutely need people who are better than us in order for us to get better.
Tough opponents show us where we really are in our development.
They teach us the skills we need to be successful and realize our potential.
What did you learn from this quote?
Change may make us feel like we want to cry, and we must allow the tears to come and heal and drive us to accept the changes.
We must allow grief to work through the process.
Finishing the process, though, by considering all of life and the lessons that we can learn from them are powerful.
One final note, when tough times come, we can either learn from them or be destroyed by them.
The choice is up to you.
Tell us what the phrase “Don’t cry because it is over; smile because it happened” means to you in the comment section below!
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