How To Be Happy In Spite
Of Your Problems

By Rene Godefroy

A year ago, I made a trip to the village of my birth, a smallcommunity in the Haitian countryside. I had been away in America for many years, working hard to make my way in the world. I returned now to my island, filled with strange


stories to tell: Stories of markets piled with food flown in from around the world, stories of doctors who gave out pills to stop people from eating, and stories of cars so abundant that they clogged the roads and slowed the traffic to the pace of a bicycle.

I told my fellow villagers,  “You know, American problems come from having too much, rather than too little. And because of these problems, they have what they call stress.” They couldn’t believe me! They had never heard of stress before and neither had I until I came to this country.

Shortly after returning from my trip, while eating in an expensive restaurant, I watched a woman send a Porterhouse steak back to the chef because it had been cooked medium instead of medium-rare. Later, I watched a man who was dining with her struggle to decide whether to have orange sherbet for dessert and stick to his diet or splurge on an ice cream sundae dripping with caramel and piled with pecans. Does any of this sound familiar?

You are not alone. Many times I am faced with such dilemmas. But I see it as an opportunity to be thankful. How? I imagine a mountain of breadfruit! Do you know what a breadfruit is? You don't often see them in American grocery stores. On the outside, they look a little like a pineapple. But they taste like a tough, extra-starchy potato. As a child, I ate almost nothing but breadfruit.

The folks in my village learned to cook it creatively. We boiled it, we fried it, and we beat it to a pulp and dipped it in sauce. But every day it was breadfruit. My tongue grew so accustomed to breadfruit that I ceased to taste it at all. I ate it only for survival. My stomach was perpetually bloated as it struggled to digest all the starch. I suffered from constant indigestion, and parasites regularly invaded my weakened digestive system.

Have you seen those children on CNN or the Sally Struthers commercials? How did you feel watching the naked children with swollen tummies and skeletal arms, ignoring the flies crawling on their faces? Well, that's what I looked like in my village in Haiti. Most people assumed I would die before I reached adulthood. They even told me so.

So when my steak arrives a little too well cooked, or I have to choose between ice cream and sherbet, I give thanks to God for the great fortune I've had in America. When was the last time you took a moment out of your busy schedule to give thanks for all that you have? Do you cry for what you don’t have? Or do you celebrate what you have? Gratitude is the gateway to happiness.

It is impossible to be grateful and unhappy at the same time. I bet you enjoy helping out a grateful child—one who is always thanking you and praising you for your generosity. Well, that’s the way your creator feels, too. Stop and count


your blessings!

I wish you incredible success!

Rene Godefroy


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