So we think a lot about happiness as Americans. What brings us happiness, what makes us unhappy, what really cheeses us off (this phrase always confuses me, as I rather enjoy cheese). We are actually quite focused on this, aren't we?
Often people, and I have thought this too, say how they are surprised that people can be happy in low-income settings, in countries that are different from ours, in places that seem to do nothing but lack what we think we need to be happy.
But really, think about it. What makes you happy? Not like I-just-scored-a-mean-deal-on-this-dress happy, or thank-God-its-Candy-Cane-Jo-Jo-Season-again happy, but like really pure joy happy.
Food and physical comfort.
Do they have all these things in places that are different from ours? Yup, they sure do. Do people value these things the same way we do? Of course! And sometimes even more so! Surprisingly, the world out side of America isn't made of a bunch of people throwing themselves earth's largest pity party.
So why is it a surprise that some of my pictures have smiling people in them?
But the second part of this commentary is that when we discover that they are happy, it somehow gives us a sense of relief and we sit back and say "Great. Our job is done. Now back to these jo-jos".
Say what? You can still experience moments of happiness and be hungry, alone, hopeless, and in need of healthcare.
Don't let the fact that people all around the world can be happy in conditions that are far, far different than yours let you off the hook for reaching out to your neighbor in whatever capacity you are able to (in a thoughtful way, but that's the next reaction).
That we all can be happy teaches you the strength of the human spirit - the common urge we all have to sink ourselves into moments that involve friends, family, and a good meal.
But it certainly doesn't give us an excuse for inaction.