It’s Thanksgiving time here in the States. What better topic to meditate on than your perspective on what makes happiness and on what is right? Here’s a Thanksgiving thought to ponder. It’s about being grateful and happy in any circumstance.

I have a daughter who lived in Thailand for a little over a year. She fell into a deep love of the country and the people and was especially moved at how everyone is so happy, notwithstanding their circumstances. Right in the midst of what most Americans would consider crippling poverty, people enjoy life and they love and laugh together. She worked at an orphanage. She had to commit to helping out for a year, but if she agreed to work there, then she could live there and they would feed her. Apparently, this is a pretty common arrangement. She was expected to work at the school and would be treated like any other girl working there. She was ecstatic.

Thai church meeting.

Her day was like any of the other girls who worked there. She woke early and shuffled kids to breakfast. She taught school. She helped with homework. But her favorite time was when all of the teachers sat in a small circle switching children out between their legs. The teachers would socialize and gossip while they combed through the children’s hair for lice. And, this wasn’t really an orphanage in the truest sense. In Thailand, it seems, when parents can no longer afford to feed and clothe their children, they send them off to live at an ‘orphanage’ which is really a state-run school and place to live that provides food, shelter, clothes, and an education to the children at no cost to parents, who usually  visit once a month.

My father’s heart was warmed when, after she came home, she became disgruntled with her church. They needed new pews and the selections offered set social clicks against each other. Some wanted the best: why settle for anything less than velvet lined cherry in gods house? Some wanted simple and inexpensive folding metal chairs. Some were for oak while others wanted pine. My daughter laughed and removed herself from the entire hullabaloo which cam close to breaking up the church. When asked,  she said that people in Thailand – at least in the jungle area where she lived – were as happy as clams for a roof and a concrete floor in the case of rain. That was all. And they were happy. Plywood stretched over cinder blocks would have made them feel like kings and queens.

I’ve no doubt that there are folks in Thailand who would put up the same fuss about seating as these people in the States. But the people that my daughter lived with, the poor and downtrodden and those with little hope to better their lot, were happy just to have somewhere to sit that didn’t stain their pants and dresses with dirt and clay.


To read more in the Perspective series go here.

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