Your Golden Ticket

By Brianna Bracey
Distinguished Young Woman of Utah for 2013

One of my family’s favorite movies is Charlie and the Chocolate Factory. The beloved children’s story is a classic I distinctly remember watching on my parents’ bed with my three sisters in Barbie pajamas, enjoying bags of popcorn.  In the story, the candy maker, Willy Wonka hides a golden ticket in five of his candy bars and announces that whoever finds one of the tickets wins a grand tour of his factory and a lifetime supply of chocolate.

It didn’t take long after the announcement until people all over the world desperately yearned to find their golden ticket with the official message: “Greetings to you, the lucky finder of this Golden Ticket _____! Tremendous things are in store for you! Many wonderful surprises await you! …Mystic and marvelous surprises…will…delight…astonish, and perplex you.” Some began to feel that their entire future happiness depended on a golden piece of paper they could only hope would fall into their hands. But in their anxious search for a golden ticket, the chocolate bar they used to find simple joy in became an utter disappointment when they discovered it did not contain the priceless golden ticket.
Today, there are many people looking for their own golden ticket…something they believe holds the key to the happiness they have always dreamed of. Perhaps one of your “golden tickets” may be among the few…
A certain award
A medallion
Straight A’s
A magazine-cover home
Your dream wardrobe
Acceptance into your dream school
The perfect family
An ACT score better than your sibling’s
The perfect boyfriend
Your dream career
A stress-free or worry-free life
All of these things are great! There’s not necessarily anything wrong with wanting these…but the problem comes when we put our happiness on hold as we wait for some future event—our golden ticket—to appear. We are surrounded with blessings now and we can be happy now. If we spend our days waiting for our golden ticket, we may miss out on the chocolate we once enjoyed.
I’m not by any means saying we should lose all hope or lower our goals—you should never stop striving for the best within you. Never stop hoping…but “don’t close your eyes and hearts to the simple and elegant beauties of each day’s ordinary moments that make up a rich, well-lived life.” –Dieter F. Uchtdorf
The happiest people I know are not those who find their golden ticket; they are those who, while in pursuit of worthy goals, discover and cherish life’s simple, beautiful and sweet every-day moments. The happiest people I know express their gratitude for these small and simple things—every day.  The happiest people I know choose to recognize their blessings, and choose to be happy now.
It would be impossible for me to share this message with you without also sharing my favorite poem, “The Station”, by Robert J. Hastings.
“Tucked away in our subconscious is an idyllic vision. We see ourselves on a long trip that spans the continent. We are traveling by train. Out the windows we drink in the passing scene of cars on nearby highways, of children waving at a crossing, of cattle grazing on a distant hillside, of smoke pouring from a power plant, of row upon row of corn and wheat, of flatlands and valleys, of mountains and rolling hillsides, of city skylines and village halls.

But uppermost in our minds is the final destination. On a certain day, at a certain hour we will pull into the station. Bands will be playing and flags waving. Once we get there so many wonderful dreams will come true, and the pieces of our lives will fit together like a completed jigsaw puzzle. How restlessly we pace the aisles, counting the minutes for loitering waiting, waiting, waiting for the station.

“When we reach the station, that will be it!” we cry. “When I’m 18.” “When I buy a new 450SL Mercedes Benz.” “When I put the last kid through college.” “When I have paid off the mortgage!” “When I get a promotion.” “When I reach the age of retirement, I shall live happily ever after!”

Sooner or later we must realize there is no station, no one place to arrive at once and for all. The true joy of life is the trip. The station is only a dream. It constantly outdistances us.

“Relish the moment” is a good motto. It isn’t the burdens of today that drive men mad. It is the regrets over yesterday and the fear of tomorrow. Regret and fear are twin thieves who rob us of today.

So, stop pacing the aisles and counting the miles. Instead, climb more mountains, eat more ice cream, go barefoot more often, swim more rivers, watch more sunsets, laugh more, cry less. Life must be lived as we go along. The station will come soon enough.”
In your quest for ____________, _____________ and ____________… please don’t forget to be happy. The world needs it. Enjoy the chocolate!
Much love from Utah,
Brianna Bracey

Brianna Bracey is a college freshman at Brigham Young University in Provo, Utah majoring in Psychiatric Nursing and minoring in Music. Originally from Alpine, UtahBrianna was a participant in the Distinguished Young Women program and was selected as the Distinguished Young Woman of Utah for 2013. Learn more about Brianna here!

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