What is happiness?

When I was growing up, my Mum, Dad and I used to go to see the rest of our family in the Philippines every other year. And one year, when I was 10, we came out of the airport, saw my grandfather and a few of my uncles and cousins, got in the van with them and headed to the house we were going to stay in while we were there. And every time we leave to go to the airport, we always get stuck in traffic. (The Philippines is not the best place to get your Ls)

But this particular year, something extraordinary happened. When we were stuck in traffic, a child about my age, maybe a little younger, who was homeless, malnourished, missing several teeth and only had one arm and one leg, hobbled to the driver's window and begged our valet for some spare change. The child knocked a few times and our valet didn't roll down the window. But this was when the moment struck me. The child, instead of persisting or complaining, smiled and hobbled away.

And I was sitting there, seeing this, thinking, "What does this child have to smile about? This child is homeless, is missing teeth and is missing an arm and a leg. This child should be miserable, but the child wasn't. Why?"

And admittedly, it took me way too many years to understand why this child was happy. See, when I was younger, I was really into material things. I loved TV, video games, all the things that I believed a child needed to be happy. But as I grew older, I slowly realized that I didn't need any of these things to be happy. I became less interested in material things and, in turn, less attached to them.

And what makes me feel fulfilled now is being. It's being here now.

It might seem hard for you to accept this, but I believe there is a profound realization in this. When I share the story of this child, in the Philippines, like I did, do you think about everything that this child was missing? The house that the child was missing? The teeth the child was missing? The arm and leg the child was missing? If you don't, then the chances are that you'll find it easy to accept this moment for what it is. And if you do, then it's because you're probably focusing on what you're lacking in your life.

And that's the difference. When I was younger I used to focus on what was missing. And now, as I have grown older, I've realized that I don't need anything and I feel fulfilled because of it.

And the irony is that since I've realized that I don't need anything, the things that I believed that I did need are coming to me.

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