“I love the man that can smile in trouble, that can gather strength from distress, and grow brave by reflection. ‘Tis the business of little minds to shrink, but he whose heart is firm, and whose conscience approves his conduct, will pursue his principles unto death.”

When I was in Northern Laos, it amazed me to see the joy and happiness of those I met on the journey. Stepping inside of a wooden hut, held 4 feet off the ground by sticks, I had the pleasure of meeting several elderly woman and a man who freely opened their home to us and exchanged conversation. Granite countertops, vaulted ceilings, and expensive marble flooring couldn’t replace the pride and joy these people had as they opened their door (sheet) to welcome us inside.

Sometimes I have to pause and take a good, hard look at my life and remind myself the source of happiness isn’t found where I often like to try and find it; externally, through materialistic pursuits. Today is one of those days.

I remember a much younger version of myself that decided to simply ‘be happy’ regardless of the circumstance. On several occasions, I’d dismiss this as childish innocence, telling myself I had no knowledge of the ‘real world’ and the realities it presented us with. Now, I realize that if I could meet that young and happy Aaron Plaat, typing away on a Xanga blog, that I’d tell him he was on the right track and to never let anything, anybody, or any circumstance wipe off the enthusiastic smile and optimism he carried. Never.

There’s a lot we can learn from children, who require little more than a hug or special time with their father/mother in order to make them glow and feel that life couldn’t be better.

Laughter is free. So is a smile. A compliment costs nothing to give and can be priceless to receive. A hug warms the heart and can remind somebody how loved they are. Taking a moment to tell a close friend – or family member – how much they mean to you can grow roots that last a lifetime. No amount of money or material possession can ever replace the sincere moment when your child gives you a handwritten card and tells you you’re the best daddy/mommy in the whole wide world.

Sitting here on my balcony, watching as the Mercedes-Benz, Aston Martin, and Lamborghini’s cruise past me, I’m reminded of just how very, very, very rich I am with the love and happiness I have in my life.

I treasure every moment.

Featured Image From Deviantart

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