Being Rich in What Matters: What the People of Honduras Taught Me About Gratitude

What's up guys?! I know it has been a little while since my last blog post but I've really taken time to reflect on an incredible experience that I recently had, and how I want to communicate my takeaways with you all. And I have to say that I'm REALLY excited to share this one! 

During the first week of March, I took a 6 day trip to Honduras to help a team of missionaries who were planning on doing medical clinics, serving food at feeding centers, and connecting with the locals from several towns and villages. My role on this team: play with the kids from the different villages and help with a team of guys who went to various public and private schools to put on basketball clinics for the students. I was pumped to get the opportunity to be active and connect with kids of all ages (one of my absolute favorite things to do), but I had no idea that this experience would hit me the way it did.

 This was during one of the medical clinics we did in a town called La Villa de San Antonio. The children who were waiting to be seen by our doctors got to do some fun and active games with me in the meantime.

This was during one of the medical clinics we did in a town called La Villa de San Antonio. The children who were waiting to be seen by our doctors got to do some fun and active games with me in the meantime.

I won't go in to detail about all of the kids I got to connect with, the beautiful people I got to have conversations with, or the countless experiences that caused this special place to capture my heart because my words in a blog can't even begin to do those experiences justice. Honduras, the towns we stayed in, the people we met - it's something you have to experience for yourself to really wrap your head around. But what I will share with you is the biggest lesson that I took away from my week there. And that lesson can be boiled down to one word, one concept, one practice - GRATITUDE.

How the People Taught Me About Gratitude

I've talked about gratitude a few times in my blogs because it is one of the foundational elements of mindfulness and meditation. Gratitude - the quality of being thankful and the readiness to show appreciation and kindness - is crucial to not just a mindful life, but a happy one. And let me tell you - the people I met in those small towns and monetarily poor villages in Honduras had plenty of gratitude in their hearts. I say "monetarily poor" because what I noticed was that even the individuals that I met who lacked in material things that we in the United States view as important (money, clean / running water, heat) were very rich in the things that really matter. Love, family, faith, compassion, and of course gratitude. These are what these people were rich in, and so while they "lacked" so much, in reality they lacked absolutely nothing at all. They had their joy, their love, and their gratitude; and not only did they have it, but they shared it with everyone they connected with. And trust me, when you're on the receiving end of so much gratitude, you can't help but to be overwhelmed with emotion and start to check yourself and reflect on how much gratitude you're displaying in your daily life.

Gratitude - the quality of being thankful and the readiness to show appreciation and kindness.

The Reality Check

My reality check, and what I hope to challenge all of you with, was this: if these wonderful people can be so grateful in the midst of lacking so many material things, what's my excuse to not have an attitude of gratitude moment by moment?

I have running water, I'm financially stable, my family can eat 3 meals a day (or more if we really wanted to). I have all of my basic needs met on a daily basis - anything else is simply a want. An added bonus. An extra. So why is it that I find myself complaining so much?

  • The waiter at this restaurant is taking too long. 
  • I have to write a four-page pager for my Master's level class, but I'm tired.
  • My car needs an oil change and that's going to cost me money.
  • There's so much laundry to do today!

I began to reflect and meditate on the idea of complaining and found that for every complaint in my life, there was a way to look at it through a lens of gratitude:

  • At least I can afford to go to dinner with my wife at a nice restaurant.
  • I'm grateful for the opportunity to further my education at a quality institution.
  • I'm fortunate to have a reliable car to get me where I need to go.
  • I am privileged to have a closet full of nice clothes that need washed from time to time.

This small shift in focus - from complaint to gratitude, has helped me cultivate my grateful heart, and I am forever thankful to the beautiful people of Honduras for showing me this invaluable lesson. I hope that for you all, this post serves as a reminder for you as well to shift your focus from complaint to gratitude. Take care everyone!

Until next time - peace and power my friends.

SJ