After completing my grad program at UC – Berkeley, I took a gap year to pause, unplug and rediscover myself. Traveling, teaching, staying at orphanages and working with different NGOs has helped me develop a broader perspective on many areas of life.
When I started volunteering at an orphanage in Kenya, 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 food, clean water, safety healthcare etc. But how can we find inner happiness beyond physical survival? If you are reading this very sentence on your phone, or computer, most likely your basic survival needs are taken care. However, how many people in the developed and developing countries today can say that they are really happy?
If you are seeking happiness by buying expensive things with your fat bank accounts, I would have to say that that you are seeking for it in the wrong places. In most cases, those with a lot of money, fame or power are the ones dealing with a lot of stress and problems. And those free spirited global citizens who travel the world with an open mind and open heart might have a richer experience of life than the wealthiest person alive.
You may not be able to control your external circumstances, but you can definitely control how you respond.
Happiness is a state of mind.