Scoutmaster Musings - Cheerful


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Scoutmaster Musings

Cheerful
From the Scout Handbook - "A Scout is cheerful. A Scout looks for the bright side of life. He cheerfully does tasks that come his way. He tries to make others happy."

Who couldn't be cheerful on a warm spring day in the hills, resting under a tree in a lush meadow with blue skies overhead, a snow-fed stream trickling by, and birds twittering above? I'll bet you have a trace of a smile just thinking of it. That is "the bright side of life" and we need to look for it in whatever situation we find ourselves.

Whistling while taking out the garbage, telling jokes while scrubbing the crusty cookpots, and sharing a story while carrying water back from the creek are all examples of a cheerful Scout. We don't often have time to sit under a tree, but it seems we have plenty of opportunities to do uninteresting tasks. A Scout is asked to approach those tasks with cheer.

Being cheerful is not the same as being happy. I'm certainly not happy about cleaning the latrine and I don't enjoy the job, but I can be cheerful while doing it. I can choose to grumble and complain and wallow in self-pity, or I can tackle the task with vigor.

The same choice is put before us for every challenge. Do I slog through the task, feeling sorry for myself, doing the minimum I can, being miserable, and most likely taking longer than required? Or, do I attack the task, doing it better than expected, and finishing quickly? Either way, I'm in the same situation, doing the same work. One way, the work drags on and I lose part of my life. The other way, I accomplish something and prove myself stronger.

A spirit of cheerfulness requires strong character and an understanding of life. When a Scout realizes that it is completely up to him to be depressed or cheerful, discouraged or resolved, cowardly or brave, then he can make the choice. Until that happens, boys will blame the world around them for their feelings. The amount of hardship required to adversely effect a person's demeanor is a solid test of that person's depth of character.

Sad occasions, such as a friend moving away, failing a test, or losing a pet for example, will understandably dishearten a person. Feelings of loss and sadness are normal and even a sign of respect. But, after an appropriate time, it is necessary to carry on with life and find goodness and cheer in other people and healthy activities.

Some people that lose their cheerful nature look for happiness in terrible ways, including alcohol and drug use. Those kinds of activities don't bring cheerfulness and purpose back to a life. They just obscure the world and temporarily dull the pain, causing more harm in the long run. Instead, addressing the cause of pain and sadness and overcoming the cause is a viable solution.

When situations are very difficult, many people are not able find happiness. They need support or counseling. A Scout is challenged to try and make others happy. When his patrol loses a competition, he can let them know he's proud of their efforts. When another scout must miss an activity to finish a chore, he can stay and help. There are many small ways in which a Scout can cheer up others. A Scout that goes into a career field of counseling can extend his influence and abilities in this area tremendously.

At the end of a day of Scouting, there is often a campfire program. At troop meetings, there may be songs, skits, or stories. I notice that the large majority of scouts sit back and are entertained by a few of the more charismatic scouts. A Scout's duty to the Scout Law should prompt him to contribute his own stories occasionally. Not only does this put him in a small leadership position for a few minutes and give good experience, it also lets him spread cheer to his other scouts and gives them a chance to enjoy the show instead of doing all the work.

In Scouting, the Order of the Arrow takes to heart this point of the Scout Law. The group's motto of "Brotherhood of Cheerful Service" shows that cheer in the face of work is their goal. I personally love the time I've spent doing OA service projects. It gives me time to refocus on this point of the Scout Law doing irksome labor while keeping a cheerful spirit. It also helps when I focus on the fact that my labor is helping other people and not myself.

We all have a threshold where the work we are doing becomes too much to remain cheerful. The trick is to push our personal threshold further every day. Having a buddy with a higher threshold doing the work with you is the best way to do this. A wise leader will understand this and pair up scouts for disagreeable tasks. That wise leader may even counsel the "more cheerful" one beforehand that his real goal is to be a role model of cheerfulness to the other scout.

I often hear youth (and adults) pray to God asking Him to keep problems away and to keep them safe. When I was 14, I realized that the only way I could grow was through problems and challenges. Since then, I have not asked God to remove challenges. I've asked only for the strength to cheerfully overcome all the challenges that I encounter. So far, so good.

A Scout is cheerful.
Posted: 12:01 01-18-2008 297
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