At the age of 12, I left the US for the first time. I didn't go to a vacation resort or a historical landmark in Europe. My first trip beyond American soil was Haiti. My dad thought it would be good for me to see how people live that were not as privileged as we were. By privileged, I mean the ability to turn on a light switch or turn a faucet to get water. If you want to know who I am, you need to know about my father and the values he instilled in me. He forced me out of my comfort zone before I knew what a comfort zone was.
He wanted me to see ingenuity in the face of poverty. I saw men who could fix complex problems with basic tools. If they were in the US, they could have multiple patents to their name. He wanted me to see joy in the face of suffering. In Haiti, I saw people full of joy yet lacking food. How could people lacking basic necessities have joy?
Witnessing these injustices opened my eyes and changed how I viewed the world. For this opportunity, I am forever grateful because it put me on a path to discover what creates a life of fulfillment. Where does happiness come from?
The logical assumption is money makes people happy. If money was the answer, Americans should be among the happiest people on the planet. But we all know this is not the case. Researchers actually study what countries are the happiest. This year, the winner was Costa Rica.
The answer to what makes a life meaningful is the relationships and bonds with people around you. If you want a life full of purpose, surround yourself with people that will encourage you to step out of your comfort zone and challenge yourself.
Do you want the answer to what made the people in Haiti joyful? It is the same answer that I have seen in numerous countries around the globe. It has nothing to do with physical possessions or status. It has everything to do with their relationship with Christ. True happiness can not be reached unless Christ is at the center.