The Key to Happiness

Joseph - Duxbury, Massachusetts
Entered on July 10, 2008
Age Group: Under 18
Themes: gratitude

I believe that the most important thing you have to do in order to be happy is simply to enjoy what you have. I have noticed in my short life that it is human nature to want what you can’t or don’t have. The best example of this from my experience is how when I was a young child, I always wished that I was older so that I could have more responsibilities and be more independent. Now that I am older and stronger, my parents have given me the basic responsibilities that every sixteen year old inherits, such as the responsibility to fertilize the lawn, clean out the garage, take care of the pets, mow the lawn, do community service, and organize my own life. While these are simple tasks that everyone has to do, they are time consuming and a pain in the butt. I was full of envy for my virtually responsibility free lifestyle that I enjoyed as a young child while I was ripping up drywall and floor tiles at my church’s parsonage and as I cleaned out a nasty old shed yesterday. While I was working yesterday I remembered something my introduction to literature teacher last year used to say, that what I was doing “sure beats living in the slums in Calcutta”. That comparison quickly gets you to appreciate the things in your life that you would normally take for granted pretty quickly, such as food, a bed, and education. I see people around me daily and am guilty of myself of complaining about how boring school is, how hungry we are even though they didn’t skip a meal, how we got the wrong kind of cell phone, or how we don’t have certain channels because they have satellite television. It bothers me when I see others complain about things like that and even more when I catch myself doing it because I know that looking at what we want is keeping us from appreciating what we have. When my parents took me to Africa, we went out to visit real life tribesmen that still lived in traditional villages in the outskirts of the Serengeti. They still lived in huts made out of cow dung and mud surrounded by thorn bushes so that predators couldn’t get in and kill them or their livestock. They still followed their native religious beliefs and lived off only their livestock and the money from the beaded jewelry made by the women that they sell at the market. One thing that I noticed is how even though those families lived in such harsh conditions and had virtually no worldly possessions, they were the most happy people I had ever seen. After thinking about how this could possibly be, I realized that it was because they appreciated having each other and what little else they had. This shows that the key to happiness is enjoying what you have. This I believe.