Here's What Happiness Really Looks Like


Today, March 20th, we celebrate the International Day of Happiness. I feel like we're celebrating something that most of us strive for every day, in one way or another. It’s a day set for pursuing a better world. To feel good by doing good. To join together in striving for something beautiful.

In When Helping Hurts the authors report the results of a really interesting survey. They asked "the poor" what it means to be poor. The answers surprised me. 

The respondents didn’t reply in material terms; instead, they spoke of “feeling shame and humiliation,” “not providing for my family,” “being like garbage that no one wants.” These relational descriptions have very little to do with material want - they didn't answer "having a small house" or "not having the newest iPhone." And that got me thinking - perhaps happiness (rather than money) is the antithesis of poverty. Achieving the opposite of personal shame and discard by being content, proud, and wanted. These are descriptions of, simply put, being happy.

I think we can each identify with those feelings, and we have to admit, these "poor" people sure do look happy.

I’ve seen first hand this kind of happiness in all it's glory when families and communities overcome poverty.

At FH, together with many Canadians, we walk alongside communities for 10 years, helping them pursue a better future. They focus on strategies and permanent changes in their communities that help them break cycles of poverty and establish ways to continue overcoming those hurdles.

When a community achieves the point where they “graduate” from the mires of poverty, and agree that they can continue on their own without steady encouragement and inputs from FH, they hold a massive celebration. Let me tell you - there is joy and happiness!

Words of thanks, speeches from leaders and parents, special food, exuberant dancing, uplifting songs, group games - it’s a proper block party! But aside from the visible glee, that happiness runs deep. 

You can sense it in the proud words of the elderly who say they never thought their village would be ‘new’ again. Or in the actions of a father who can till his field and provide for his family like he’s always wanted to. Or in the excited chatter of a group of mothers as they gather to discuss health improvements for their homes. Or in the happy outbursts of children who run and play after school in Kids’ clubs, knowing they have a hopeful future and a place to belong.

Maybe we can’t quite put our finger on a definition for happiness, but we know it when we see it, and for these bold communities, it's rooted in togetherness.

About Mike Prins: Mike is the Communications & Marketing Manager at Food for the Hungry Canada. The son of an Albertan dairy farmer, Mike appreciates cow poop humour with the best of them! Having traveled to numerous developing countries, he has a personal appreciation for the struggle of communities working to get out of poverty. 



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Food for the Hungry: Here's What Happiness Really Looks Like
Here's What Happiness Really Looks Like
Food for the Hungry
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