Happiness Revealed

Today, on my way to school, I find myself caught in grid-lock traffic. I silently curse the local drivers and their lack of driving skill. Immersed in my own little world within the confines of my car, I am utterly detached from the wonders around me: The mahout teasing his elephant onward, the smiling woman veiled in colorful layers of fabric, hundreds of buzzy motor bikes transporting an endless cast of exotic characters, the imposing mountains in the distance, the low hanging clouds with rain on the horizon…..and where am I? I am someplace else in my mind, completely preoccupied with the minutiae of concerns that await me in the classroom, lesson plans for the benefit of students who may, or may not, wish to be educated.

The international teaching experience is life changing, exhilarating, and can even be termed a peak experience. So, how is it possible to become blind to the newness and wonder of all that surrounds us in our host countries? Sights, sounds, smells and people we once marveled at can slowly fade into the background, replaced by workplace stress and commitments which eventually become our all encompassing reality. We’ve all experienced episodes of disconnect. For some it’s a fleeting experience, for others it’s semi-permanent or worse, a type of spiritual death.

Gratitude, a film by Louis Schwartzberg on TED, is guaranteed to reinstall the sense of wonder so easily lost in our busy lives, refocusing us on the reality that counts. We encourage you to take a few minutes to enjoy this film, and welcome your impressions and realizations after you’ve seen Gratitude.

10 thoughts on “Happiness Revealed

  1. When I read the article I thought- “what’s wrong with letting a place sometimes become ordinary.” It is only when I wasn’t fazed by tuk-tuks that I knew I really felt comfortable and at home in this place. That doesn’t mean that every day I don’t see the Elephant crossing the road and smile, notice the crazy monkeys that are scary and marvel at how we try to live together, or that I don’t notice the colors that surround me. In fact, sometimes when a place becomes ordinary I can observe other things, I don’t have to feel worried or new or confused about aspects of the culture, instead I can appreciate things that before were so “new” I was just gaping at them.
    On another note, I thought the video was beautiful, and we all need time to see things as “new” again. But I can’t live everyday thinking that the clouds I see will never be the same, or living each day as it is new, I would be overwhelmed and overstimulated. A balance of both is ideal for me- that’s not to say it would be so for others.


  2. As a pantheist, I fully appreciated this film and bless every day as I cycle to school, avoiding the pot holes in the track that is called a road here, and smile at the cows who wander into my path…..I love teaching overseas and experiencing each new culture on a daily basis.


  3. Thank you for sharing this. Having just finished a round of parent-teacher conferences, I realize how fascinating my students and families are. I had the opportunity to share and learn from families from France, China, Australia, Korea, and the US. We talked of the children and ourselves, our hopes and concerns, our differences and similarities, and world views. Inspiring, challenging–what an awesome opportunity!


  4. Thank you. I am grateful for the reminder that every day is a good day, every moment is an opportunity. There is so much beauty in the world.


  5. For me, the single greatest moment in overseas teaching is that first morning you wake up in your new bed in your new apartment in your new host country, glance around your unfamiliar surroundings, and think to yourself, “I live here now.”


  6. Yes, it is so easy to forget what an outstanding opportunity and experience we are having. I tend to get wrapped up in my problems with the business office, the director’s unrealistic expectations, problem parents and the like. Next thing you know I’ve made a nice little hell for myself. Thanks for the video ISR. That brought me back to my senses.


    1. Westernization? How, exactly, does that have anything to do with this? These are all personal choices and an awakening in an individuals, western or otherwise. I realize it’s popular now to bash western culture, but people might be better off focusing on themselves and their perspective.


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