Happiness is Relative

Religion isn’t all bad. Sometimes false information leads to the correct conclusion or even to good results.  

Case in point: If you really do believe the Fridge is the one true being we should worship and see it’s power manifest in all our kitchens… If you truly believe the one commandment of the Fridge, a simple “Be Nice” then it follows that you might see another person in distress, remember the words of your cool God, then reach out and do something about it.  

The fact you helped another isn’t because you believed the Fridge was true. It’s because you believed that particular commandment of the Fridge was a good thing to remember. But here’s the question: Without the Fridge and the silly belief in it’s divinity would you have felt the tug of being nice in that particular situation? Something to ponder.  

One experience I ponder that forever affected my outlook occurred on my own mission for the Mormon faith. Something I obviously consider now was served under a completely false premise, in case you didn’t notice. šŸ™‚ 

It happened while I sat and visted with a member on a tiny wood bench on a dirt floor in his little ro’choch, just talking. Since K’ekchi is an all but forgotten language let me use a picture to translate. The inside of his ro’choch looked something like this. 


It was his home. A small 10×15 thatched roof, hand made house his family lived in. By comparison, I was unbelievably wealthy to be there living on about 150$ a month just to preach to this guy how much God needed him to pay tithing. (And how rich he would he eternally if he did!)

I marveled as we talked, this man was genuinely happy. Together we’d worked hard, picking the greenest, yet sweetest oranges you’d ever seen, taking them to market to eek out a living for his wife and kids. I’d gotten to know him really well over the months spent in that area and he was happy, nearly all the time. Happy to be alive, happy to share, happy to have family and friends. I still remember him offering me one of the oranges and thinking this is all this guy and his kids survive on and here he is sharing one. It was incredibly sweet and delicious as I remember it now. Could the situation I was in have affected the flavor? I think so. 

The lesson I learned that day that was happiness isn’t about what you have, it’s about the value you place on what you have. To him he was a doing great. He was a leader in his community, he had a family in which most his kids had survived their childhood. By local measures he was doing just fine. Where I saw poverty, he saw wealth. Where I saw a struggle for survival he saw gratefulness just to be alive. The secret to happiness I realized that hot jungle day, was perspective. Even now, even though I believe the premise under which I went there was ultimately a false one. I am still happy I learned that valuable lesson. It has come back to me over and over at the hardest moments in my life and well, helped me be happy again. 

Not everyone gets a chance to go and live and work among the poorest people on our planet. But I wish were so because it only takes one time seeing and feeling the joy the girls in this picture felt getting lucky enough to take a take a bath that you realize an eternal truth of the universe:

Happiness is relative, all you have to do find it, is change your perspective. 

1 Comment

  1. Excellent article.It is so true life is really about our perspective and choices.As most people reading this have only first world problems which are not a lot in comparison to most of the world problems that an overwhelming percentage of the population face on a daily basis.I know its all relative but we should all try and remind our selves what is really important.Cheers

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