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I was hanging out with one of my best-friends mom’s the other day after she spent 7 months in Belize; she has been building a home on her property that she has owned for 16 years, with the help of the local Belizians. While this has been a dream of her’s for years she has faced many challenges in the process. What she is doing is not something just anyone could take on – you must have an internal fire burning so strong that on the days you feel defeated and want to put out that flame, your passion overcomes the doubt from within. It has been a struggle for her to find qualified help to assist with construction, someone to watch the property 24/7 and make sure no one messes with anything while she is not there, to make sure she has access to the equipment needed to get the job done, and so much more! She appreciates the life she has lived in California, but when it comes down to it, she is willing to give it all up for the simple joys in life. Many studies show that living a more simple life leads to greater happiness, deeper connections with the earth, and higher levels of spirituality and so much more…

If you don’t travel on a regular basis and know about how others outside of the US live, I feel it’s easy to take for granted all of the luxuries we have… For example: clean drinking and bathing water, having a refrigerator where we can store our food or an oven to cook on, or even four walls and a roof over our head. That said I am driven to live a meaningful life, a desire to connect with my innate purpose. A purposeful life requires us to be patient, to delay immediate gratification and to think long-term, which is against our acquired nature. I know I have a larger sense of purpose and value, I want to make more positive contributions to the world, not only to my own personal and spiritual growth, but also to society and the human civilization as a whole.

A meaningful life will guide you towards wise actions, and give you a sense of constructive direction. When you start to dissolve each layer and move towards your center, you will move even closer to living your deeper purposes in every moment.

After doing some research on the statistics of how others in “underdeveloped” countries live I also started doing some research on the happiest countries.

Shigehiro Oishi, a University of Virginia psychologist who studied “well-being”, partnered with Ed Diener, a University of Illinois psychologist, to write a piece for the journal of Psychological Science. In the paper, they found that people from wealthy countries were generally happier than people from poor countries, but they also found that people from poor countries tended to view their lives as more meaningful. Oishi and Diener wanted to understand how wealth influences both happiness and meaningfulness by examining the relationship between a country’s wealth and the well-being of its citizens. Thousands of people completed an annual Gallup survey administered in 132 countries, and reported on 1) how happy they were, 2) whether their lives had “an important purpose or meaning” and 3) where their lives stood on a scale from 0-10.

Roy Baumeister, a social psychologist and a Princeton / Duke graduate, and his colleagues surveyed 400 adults in the United States to find out what made their lives happier or more meaningful. Researchers found that people were happiest when their needs and desires were met in the present, but that this immediate fulfillment “was largely irrelevant to meaningfulness”. Happiness was generally a reflection of how they felt in the present alone. Baumeister also discovered that happier people report to leading easier lives, to be in good health, to feel good most of the time, and to be able to buy what they needed without financial strain. The people who felt their lives were meaningful, said they had fulfilling social relationships, engaged in acts of charity, take care of their children, strategically thought about their struggles and challenges, pray/have strong religious beliefs, and engaged in other fulfilling activities.

Maybe it’s because poverty strips people of happiness in the short term – forcing them to put off immediate satisfaction for future gain – and in turn allows them to focus on the relationships they have with their gods, their friends, their children and with themselves, which becomes more meaningful over time.

Statistics to make you think

767 million people, or 10.7 percent of the population, are estimated to be living below the international poverty line of $1.90 per person per day.

There are a billion people live in chronic hunger. Nearly a third of all children are chronically malnourished, (which unless addressed before the age of two often leaves them stunted and mentally impaired.)

A sixth of the world’s adults can’t read or write and many more have only rudimentary literacy.

Sub-Saharan Africa has only two doctors for every 10,000 people, which is partly why on average its inhabitants live to an average age of 56.

Check out The World Happiness Index 2016 who ranks the happiest countries on Earth each year:

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