There\u2019s only one thing more painful than listening to a commencement speech: Having to give a commencement speech and stare at a sea of students eager to toss beach balls and party. This year, commencements were canceled, so my sister Margaret devised a virtual celebration for my nephew Alex and his friend Jack, who graduated from St. John\u2019s College. Joe Biden wasn\u2019t available, so she asked me to deliver the address. Here\u2019s a sanitized version of my speech: Friends, honored guests, doctors, lawyers, plumbers, mothers, fathers, grandmothers, grandfathers, sisters, brothers, nieces, nephews, neighbors, household pets and esteemed graduates ... good afternoon. We\u2019re here to recognize your great accomplishment. You got out of college relatively unscathed. That\u2019s more than most people can say. That\u2019s more than I can say. Commencement speeches are notoriously boring. This one will follow that honorable tradition. At my commencement, UN Secretary-General Kurt Waldheim spoke about something or other. Nobody remembers. Whatever advice he gave wasn\u2019t worth remembering because shortly afterward, he was accused of working with the Nazis. What advice can I give graduates who already know everything? I looked for ideas in a book titled, \u201cThe Best Advice I Ever Got\u201d by Katie Couric, which contained the profound thoughts of celebrities, such as \u201cFollow your dreams,\u201d \u201cDon\u2019t be afraid,\u201d and \u201cTake risks.\u201d Bill Cosby, who wasn\u2019t afraid to take risks, said, \u201cDon\u2019t be your own worst enemy.\u201d My mother, who only graduated from eighth grade, would have told him, \u201cTake your own advice.\u201d Matt Lauer said, \u201cSometimes you gotta go off course.\u201d He did. This should teach you not to take advice from celebrities \u2014 not even Kim Kardashian \u2014 because they know nothing. My father wasn\u2019t a celebrity. He was a carpenter who lived the last 25 years of his life sober. He was always sharing AA wisdom like \u201cLive and let live\u201d and \u201cA day at a time.\u201d Some of the wisest people you\u2019ll meet in life never went to college. Listen to them anyway. Swim upstream and go against the current. If everyone else jumped off the bridge, would you? Years ago, my friends were going to Woodstock and wanted me to join them. I resisted the crowd. Now, when someone asks, \u201cWere you at Woodstock?\u201d I proudly respond, \u201cAhhh, I had more important things to do. I was in the dormitory, washing my laundry. But I have the album!\u201d The most popular course at Harvard is \u201cHow to be Happy.\u201d I don\u2019t have a degree from Harvard, but I know the secret to happiness \u2014 the attitude of gratitude. Say thank you to someone who holds the door. Say thank you to your waitress. Say thank you to your parents. Say thank you FOR your parents. Say thank you for your life. This habit leads to true happiness, not fake happiness that comes from drugs, alcohol and possessions. When you put your head on the pillow, think about your day \u2014 the highs and lows, the triumphs and trials. What did you do well? What did you do poorly? You\u2019ll never become a better person if you don\u2019t examine your day. Suffering may be part of life, but always remember, \u201cThis too shall pass.\u201d In the meantime, get a dog, talk to your dog, love your dog. There will be days when your dog seems like your only friend. If you want human friends, smile more. Never underestimate the power of a smile. You will help countless people by smiling. A smile can save someone\u2019s life. There are two types of people in the world. There are givers and there are takers. It\u2019s better to be a giver. And the most important lesson of all: Your life is not about you. That may sound like something Deepak Chopra or Eckhart Toole said, but it was St. Thomas Aquinas. You were put here for others. There\u2019s a plan for your life and it\u2019s better than your plan. As they say, \u201cWith all its sham, drudgery and broken dreams, it\u2019s still a beautiful world.\u201d So have a great life ... a day at a time. Joe Pisani can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org.