By Alexis Thompson

For the past two years, on a local, state, and national level, I have been spreading messages of happiness through public speaking and volunteering. Little did I know, I would really have to listen to my own happy advice.

In 2017, when I was 9 years old, I started my personal platform called “Choose Happiness.”  Choosing happiness has two parts. First you have to choose happiness for yourself, and then you have to do it for others. You can choose happiness by doing lots of things! You can make yourself happy by living a healthy lifestyle, eating right and exercising, choosing positive self-talk, and making positive choices. We are also called to make others happy by not bullying, respecting others’ opinions, and serving our community and others through volunteering. It is also important to treat others the way that we would like to be treated and live by the golden rule. I give a 30-minute presentation where I cover all of these topics. I like to speak at schools, civic organizations, businesses, or to whoever will listen!  

In March 2018… I was diagnosed with adolescent Idiopathic scoliosis, and I was given excellent care. The doctors fit me for a back brace that I wear every day to hopefully stop the progression of my curves. They also gave me extensive physical therapy exercises (scoliosis-specific exercises) to do at home each day. Both of these treatments will hopefully help me avoid having major back surgery someday. 

At first, wearing the brace was NOT fun. It is very restrictive, and as someone who just wants to move, dance, and do acrobatics all the time, it was pretty difficult to get used to. I was also kind of nervous that it would look weird with my clothes. When given a situation like this, I could have had a really bad attitude and hoped that people felt sorry for me, but I really didn’t want to do that. What purpose would that serve? It wouldn’t make my back be straight, and I would just wind up feeling bad, so I had to find the positives in my situation. 

Recently, I started a North Dakota Chapter of the Curvy Girls organization. Curvy Girls brings girls like me together to raise awareness and support one another at monthly meetings, hospital visits, and brace-wear shopping trips. Because teens with scoliosis typically feel self-conscious about their appearance, and because they often have to wear a hard plastic torso brace up to 23 hours a day, they tend to isolate themselves and may experience depression. Peer-support groups provide an important opportunity to share concerns and information. 

If my story has taught you anything at all, I hope that is was this: you can find happiness and joy in any situation, even when it is difficult. And it is OK to be frustrated sometimes – just don’t dwell on it for too long. Do yourself some good and always CHOOSE HAPPINESS!  

More information on Curvy Girls contact Alexis