The Art of Happiness

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Kindness is everywhere. It’s in the little things and in the bigger things. Today was house dedication day for our team. We rode the buses to the work site and were able to see the finished products. I’m not the most emotional person you’ll ever meet, but handing the keys to a family is never a simple moment. It is grand, so grand that it’s quite difficult for me to put it into words. 


We, as a team, worked so hard all week. We were extremely focused and felt so purposeful. We toiled and sweat a lot and sometimes even bled in order to help and to give. And that is something great. But it does not compare to the grandeur of the house dedication, because so many things come together at once in that point in time that are incredibly amazing. The students realize then that they have changed the world and, to some extent, start to contemplate the possibility that they might just keep on making an impact every single day for the rest of their lives. The radiative power of that realization is, again, impossible to put to paper. It is felt. And it is one… great… feeling!


The family that we have built for feels honoured, grateful, and proud. The father is so very proud that he can provide security for his family, that the rats won’t be nibbling on his children’s fingers at night, that community members and strangers have lost the ability to walk in and out at any time they want, that when it rains they will be dry. Our family was so special, 3 children, their mom and a policeman father. He was one of the proud few men of justice who are not corrupt in Sosua. It would be so easy to give in to the temptation of corruption, but this man is choosing a different path. These adults and children were leaders in the community before they got their house. I can only imagine how great their positive influence will be now that they have a home. 


To the community leader in Arroyo Seco I say thank you. I am so very grateful that you allowed us in. That you trusted us with your children and your families. That you let our Canadian youth help and experience change. They will change the world and that is because you trusted them and let them in. Leaving the build site and returning to Canada after this experience can and will generate a lot of different emotions and reactions in participants. For me, this time around, it can be summed up by compassion. I am choosing to let compassion permeate my life and to see love everywhere I go. My team chose to give and to help out a family in need this week and that is beautiful. They met with the children, conversed with the mom and worked side by side with the father. 


Within hours of leaving the Hero Holiday, already life has shown me that compassion can permeate your life if you let it. And to me, that is happiness. Being able to help, to show you care, to make someone’s life a little lighter, even if it’s just for a few minutes, is the key to living an inspired life. Whether it’s buying a hot dog for a homeless man or translating for a child traveling alone (2 things that may or may not have really happened in the past couple of hours), we can choose to LiveDifferently. We can choose to speak kind words and act with compassion. We can choose to be understanding. And that, my volunteer friends, is the key. Being kind makes me happy. It keeps me sane and it allows me to continue to give. It is the path I choose today and I hope I can only be lucky enough to by given the opportunity to keep living this way.

Gen, LiveDifferent Hero Holiday Teacher Volunteer, Dominican Republic 2012

Author: LiveDifferent

Date: July 19th, 2012