After numerous studies of what are the essential ingredients of personal happiness, there is a clear conclusion. Are the ingredients money, fame and admiration? Is it being the most successful businessman? The essential ingredients of personal happiness are connectedness in a community. The more socially connected we feel to others the more content we humans are.
After doing missions work in the poorest areas of Honduras and Mexico, I was stunned by how joyful these people were in the midst of their situation. Not to negate the importance of helping those who are less fortunate because there were negative effects of the lack of nutrition and education; therefore, invention is critical. However, it is to emphasize that how can those who have so little and suffer so much, run up to you to offer a smile and a hug. Is it “Ah, the gringo has some money in his left pocket?” No, this was not the reason, but the little child offered me her hug because she was happy despite her poverty.
She belonged. Yes, she belonged to a group, to a family, to a community. No matter how isolated and improvised it was…she belonged. Think of some of the loneliest moments of your life. During that time: Did you feel isolated?, Away from home?, Or as an outcast in some way?, Unwanted? And not needed?
There was a time like this in my life when I was an outcast, the setting was in a class where a mildly sadistic teacher tried to find certain students that he enjoyed trying to embarrass in front of the entire class. It was an awkward and strange situation for me, because I’m social and confident. The teacher did succeed on occasion; sometimes, he failed. However, the effect was, I felt what it was like to be excluded. It was a positive thorn, because, I learned what some go through everyday. People who are extremely shy or who lack confidence struggle everyday to feel as though they belong.
As I am not masochistic, I quit the...