September 10, 2017
I never really thought much about happiness until I came to live in America. In Rwanda, in the poor area where I grew up, most people were happy just having enough food to spare their family from starvation. I guess that’s why I always assumed that people who lived in rich countries, where everyone had so much of everything, would be happy all of the time. But when I left Rwanda and began traveling I realized this wasn’t true, and that so many people I met in Europe and America weren’t happy at all. That’s when I started wondering about what true happiness really is, and how we can all find it and make it a part of our lives.
When I was growing up, I was taught we must always be grateful and thank God for the good things we had. I was told, we must always find something to thank God for, even in bad times. For me, this became an especially valuable lesson during the genocide when I found myself hiding for my life in a tiny bathroom for three months with seven other women. During those terrible weeks, killers were constantly hunting for us, our families were being murdered, we existed in a state of constant terror. It was a nightmare and it seemed impossible to find anything good to thank God for.
I remember thinking, “this is hell, there is nothing good left in the world—I have nothing to thank God for.” And yet somehow, the more dire and hopeless the situation became, the more I prayed…and the more I prayed, the deeper I searched within myself for something I could thank God for. At first I could find nothing to give thanks for, but slowly I became aware of the blessings I had in my life—blessings like little candles of hope, began to lighten the darkness surrounding me. For instance, there was the kindness of the man who was hiding us, a man risking his own life to save us. And there was the rosary my father gave to me as a parting gift when he sent me into hiding; a precious gift that helped me to pray during the darkest hours of my life. And there was also the company of the ladies who were hiding with me. I found myself becoming incredibly gratefully for all these little blessings God had given me, and that gratitude became a deep and powerful reason for me to give thanks to Him each and every time I prayed. The more I found something to be grateful for, the lighter my heart became. And despite the anger, hatred, fear, and bloodshed that surrounded me, I began experiencing moments of real happiness.
Too often we assume someone is happy because we see them dressed in fine clothing, wearing expensive jewelry, driving a fancy car, working at a high-paying job, or living in a big, beautiful home. And too often we think that if only we had those nice things in our own life, or had that much money, then we’d be happy too. But the truth is, happiness is only found when our hearts can be GRATEFUL for all the things God has blessed us with, no matter how small or insignificant they may seem to us. And yes, you can always find something to be grateful for, no matter how hard life gets at times or how difficult a situation may be. We become happy when we are grateful.
Being grateful doesn't mean that you are grateful for everything - wars, tragedies, hunger, dishonesty, unfaithfulness etc…but it means, you can choose to look at what to be grateful about in every moment and the more you look, the more you can find, and it will bring you joy and make you happy.
I challenge you all to spend a few moments thinking about all the wonderful things in your life that you may sometimes take for granted—your friends, family members, random acts of kindness, a stranger’s smile, the warmth of the sun, the wind and air you breath etc… Decide to see a gift in every moment - you will be really HAPPY. Don’t waste time dwelling on the problems or chaos around you, unless you are trying to resolve the situation. Complaining drains your spirit and energy, while gratitude fills you with life and opens your heart to true happiness and joy.
Blessings to you,
Read this article (and many more) on: Immaculee.com