Taking a gap year to travel, volunteer and rediscover myself after completing my grad program at UC – Berkeley was without a doubt one of the best decisions of my life. Teaching young kids, staying at orphanages and working with different NGOs have helped me develop a broader perspective on many areas of life.
When I look back, I can clearly see that instead of me helping the kids, they helped me in so many more ways than I could ever imagine. It was fascinating to see that the definition of a normal family to the kids was an orphanage with 19 kids and 3 nannies that took care of them. All the kids played, were schooled and grew up inside the orphanage.
When I started volunteering at the orphanage, the very first thought that came to my mind was how privileged I was to have been born in a family that did not struggle with any of the basic necessities such as access to food, water or proper healthcare. As I spent more time with the kids, I couldn’t help but draw some parallels. For instance, when I hear my young nephews and nieces, who are about the same age as the kids at the orphanage, complaining about all the problems in their lives while playing games on their expensive tablets, I wonder what does one really need to feel happy in life? I mean the kids at the orphanage in Kenya were probably happier playing outside without having access to any expensive toys or gadgets.
I completely understand that there is still a lot of work to be done in many parts of the word to provide access to basic survival need such as nutritious food, clean water, safety healthcare etc. But I believe that happiness is state of mind. And regardless of what we have or what we don’t’ have, moments of joy can be found everywhere around us if we look for them in the right places.
You may not be able to control your external circumstances, but you can definitely control how you respond.