Low-Income Happiness

Many times throughout my life I have wondered about what makes me happy and what makes other people happy. The first thing that pops into my head is money. We all know that money is a great asset to our lives and that without it our future could be in danger. If we define happiness as being related to the amount of money somebody owns, then we would think that those of us who do not have money also lack happiness. This statement has been proven to be wrong as I have been living and working with Nashville refugees.

 After spending part of my summer living in a low-income community, I have witnessed how mistaken my previous assumption is when applied to the refugee community at the Highlands.  It seems that for them happiness is found in every single person and is not limited to the amount of financial assets they possess.  In many ways, it seems that their happiness comes from something that is not materialistic but instead it is something they see in each other, in the environment and in their lives.

I have found that every time I approach our neighbors I am greeted with a big smile and a pair of eyes that look past the person into the soul inside me.  That is an unforgettable feeling which I seem to never avoid or get enough of.  I think that the best way in which I can describe this feeling is by calling it happiness.  By the simple act of looking at you, the refugees have a power to make you feel their happiness.  As they glance at you, they share what makes them happy; not by telling you what it is, but by letting you feel it with them.  I do not think I have ever felt this way when meeting new people, but now my perspective about happiness has been completely changed.

 I have come to realize that money is not everything. It cannot provide everything we desire–especially happiness. Money can only provide happiness for a short amount of time and once it is gone the happiness it brings with it goes away.  In living within a low-income community, I have discovered their most precious treasure, “low-income happiness.”  This kind of happiness does not depend on material resources, grows best in community, and offers a glimpse into our own souls.

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