CLAYTON — Being a happy person can do miraculous things.
U.S. Marine Corps veteran CJ Scarlet can attest to that fact after overcoming two debilitating diseases that she says were the result of spreading generosity and kindness to others.
Following in the footsteps of her father and brothers, the Clayton resident joined the military on her 20th birthday in 1981. Scarlet served for five years as a public relations representative and photojournalist before being honorably discharged for medical reasons.
She soon learned that her lupus and scleroderma had progressed into a life-threatening heart and lung condition. It was difficult to walk and Scarlet became terrified of every ache and pain which led her to fall into a deep depression. But during a chance meeting with a Tibetan Buddhist lama at the Kadampa Center in Raleigh her life began a dramatic turnaround.
I asked him to pray for me, explained Scarlet. He told me to stop feeling sorry for myself and focus my attention on the happiness of others.
His advice worked. She started off by doing random acts of kindness for strangers and quickly noticed a difference in her health with each good deed.
Every time I did something I felt happier, Scarlet said. I was literally healing my body from the inside out. It took over 18 months but I feel better today than I did 23 years ago. It really impacted my thinking.
Now Scarlet is focusing her attention on working as a motivational speaker and supporting female veterans like herself who are transitioning to civilian life. Next month she will be featured at a conference and business pitch competition in Virginia for women small business owners who are military veterans or spouses/domestic partners of veterans.
The Women Veteran Entrepreneur Corps (WVEC) is a partnership formed by Capital One Financial Corporation and Count Me In, a non-profit provider of business education and resources for women. Scarlet hopes to share with the group how she overcame her own personal challenges and provide ways to help them achieve their business goals.
Scarlet is the founder of two companies, including Roving Coach International, where she offers inspirational coaching for corporations by teaching employees skills to become happier and more productive in the workplace.
A survivor of military sexual trauma, Scarlet has also worked as an advocate for those who have experienced similar situations and served as a director of Victims Issues with the North Carolina Attorney Generals Office. She was named one of the Happy 100 people on the planet as featured in the bestseller, Happy for No Reason, by Chicken Soup for the Soul author Marci Shimoff.
I think we owe something special to our veterans, Scarlett said. Theyve gone through so much and this country owes them much more. I have learned to love every second of my life. When you have gratitude and generosity, theres nothing you cant conquer.