You Make Me Smile

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you-make-me-smile.jpgI am totally addicted to seeing people happy. I know, I know – happiness is an emotion, joy is a state of being, blah blah blah. But doesn’t it feel good to be happy? To feel that rush of good endorphins bubble up in your stomach, threatening to make you giggle or burst out laughing – even at the most awkward of times. Happiness is a commodity that only seems to grow when you give it away: it’s meant to be shared. One of the greatest compliments you could ever receive is when someone tells you, “You make me smile”.”Happy” means to be delighted, pleased, or glad about a particular thing. In it’s European origins, the concept of the word “happy” actually meant lucky. I like that. I like to think that every time I feel happiness, I am reminded of how lucky or fortunate I am to be able to experience it, no matter how long or short the feeling lasts. If we understand the concept of happiness, then we can better understand what motivates us as humans. Some people are happy when they buy nice things, obtain financial security, have good health, travel, or get new opportunities in life. All of those things make all of us happy to a certain degree and that is part of the gift of living life. But I have found something else that has made me infinitely happier than what I can reach out and touch and feel. It’s more tangible than something I can see and more powerful than something I can use my tactile senses on. It is the reality of watching hope and love in action. And, to be honest, I don’t know how I ever lived without it before I started to experience it remember the first Hero Holiday we ever did. It is still so vivid in my mind because of all that it did – both in us and in the participants. It was the summer of 2005, we were in Dominican Republic and every day of that trip brought new heartbreaks, new challenges, and new memories. However, one moment stands out like no other. We were far back among the cane fields, in a small village hidden from the rest of the world. It was called Villa Ascención and we had been building houses, working with both impoverished Dominicans and stateless Haitians. One of our projects that came up last minute was the chance to dig a trench to bring fresh water to that village for the first time. The only water that the residents had access to was in a river far below, where they did everything from washing their motorbikes and kids, letting their livestock drink, and even obtaining their own drinking water. This trench would mean that for the first time ever, these people would have access to clean, fresh water and that meant hope for the future.The trench stretched a long ways back up over the mountain, and looking at the new pipe that now laid in the trench we had just built, we embraced a feeling of accomplishment and pride – we actually did what we set out to do!you-make-me-smile-3.jpgBut for me, the moment that I will always remember was when we stood among the people in the village, staring at the end of this hose, waiting in anticipation for the gift that it could hold. I was the one standing there holding onto the pipe when it gushed out. As we grabbed it and began to spray the water into the air, all the kids began to laugh, clap, dance and sing with the excitement of this moment. Little arms threw themselves around our legs and waists, thankful faces kissed our cheeks and hugged our shoulders. And in that moment, I didn’t just feel happy or lucky or even warm and fuzzy. I felt completely alive. Never had I been so aware of how blessed I was to be there at that moment, and never had I had such an appreciation for the chance to be a part of this.Each person that stood there with us that day will remember what it felt like to know true happiness. We had been part of something beautiful and it was the thread that ties us all together in humanity: the ability to reach out and offer hope. To all of you that were a part of that special day, thank you. You make me smile.LiveDifferent (formerly Absolute) is back in Dominican Republic right now and we invite you to follow our adventures and the people that are a part of it all. We have numerous trips to Dominican Republic throughout the year and we would love to have you join us!

Author: LiveDifferent

Date: July 4th, 2010