Circumstance Don’t Define Happiness
An individual’s attitude during their hardships can have a significant impact on the
decisions that they make and their overall happiness. In the passages, “Circus in Town” by
Sinclair Ross and “ ‘Happyness’ for Sale” by Jia Lynn Yang, both main characters encounter
trials and challenges that come with an impoverished lifestyle. Both stories focus on how
important having a positive and optimistic outlook on life is when circumstances are difficult. ”
Optimism brings them each to a place where life was better; allowing them to overcome their
dire circumstances despite the doubts of others. A positive attitude and a powerful imagination
allow both Jenny and Chris to achieve their goals and live the lives they dream of.
Both Jenny and Chris are disadvantaged within society. However, they face their tough
situations with optimism. Jenny is born in a family of extreme poverty, so she really doesn’t have
the chance to spend a costly nor a luxurious life. Her mother points out to the family “there’s a
circus in town, but do we go? Do we ever go anywhere? (Ross 8)”.Although Jenny could not
physically experience the circus, through being optimistic and using her imagination, she is able
to create an experience like no other. By creating her own life within her mind, she is able to
escape from the reality of her unfortunate circumstances. Chris Gardner in “ ‘Happyness for
Sale’ “ similarly has dealt with experiencing a less than lavish lifestyle. Unlike Jenny, Chris’s
drive for change results in the necessary actions for a new way of life. He succeeds and
achieves his goals by working harder than others. “Gardner worked, making 200 calls a day to
snag clients for Dean Witter.” (Yang 2). His goal was to support his son as a single father.
Although both characters are living a life different from the circumstances they've been given,
Jenny’s approach is by creating a better life in her mind, while Chris works hard to create a
different life in reality.
The power of maintaining an optimistic spirit also enables the characters to