Saturday, March 12, 2011

Happiness is celebrating what you have

Years ago when I went to Peru I was struck by how happy the beautiful villagers looked in spite of seemingly dire circumstances. In remote villages where poverty was widespread, where people walked 5 to 7 miles a day into town, carrying their baby lamas in a little poncho on their back, their arms laden with vegetables for their market stalls, everyone seemed to be smiling. I'll never forget being profoundly embarrassed when one of the men on our tour started complaining loudly that the hotel didn't have the hot water that was advertised. "Sure it did," the hotel keeper told him. The hot water worked in room 3! You have to share." The gentleman on our tour didn't get it. He walked off in a huff. The rest of us took turns showering in Room 3.

Happiness is not always about having everything you want. Happiness is about celebrating what you do have. And you can always find the smallest things to be grateful for. I am a very grateful person. I get up thanking God each day for my bed, my remaining sweet dog Lucy, the good people in my life, running water, warm water, the ability to walk and breathe easily. You name it, I have a long list of things I do not take for granted after seeing what others have gone through. I sponsor a kid in Africa. His family is doing well. They are a half kilometer from a pump and have a mud house with a tin roof... very lucky indeed for their area. It puts everything in perspective.

So while we all have our challenges in life, and while we all go through times when things just aren't the way we wish, it is important to seek out happiness because happiness comes from a grateful heart, and from a heart that can see God's love and miracles in the tiniest things around them. When I look at a lady bug I see the wonder of God's creation. When I see the dew sparkling on the grass in the morning sun, it is more wonderful than diamonds. When I smear my face with honey it is just as lovely a feeling as a facial at a high end spa. When I see the smile on a child, I see God looking through their eyes. You can find a sense of wonder everywhere you look if you open your eyes to see.

Seek happiness in every circumstance you find yourself. Look around and find something to be delighted by, or something to marvel at. We take so much for granted, and yet so many little things can be cause for joy, and reasons for gratitude. Happiness resides within you as does disappointment. Joy and sorrow co-exist in your heart and mind too. The angels say all we have to do is choose where we place our focus.

Those so-called "poor" people in Peru were far richer in joy than many well-to-do folks over here that I have since met. Their smiles showed their gratitude for life and for the simple things. One room with hot water! What a luxury! Truly we can all find reasons to be happy right now. I think I'll go wash my face with some hot water, smear honey all over it for a nice skin-softening facial and thank God for a feeling greater than all the wealth in the world.