If there’s one thing my mom wanted me to come back from Africa with, it was gratitude. For those of you who don’t know, she spent a few years in Nigeria when she was my age and she said that was the biggest lesson she took away from the experience. I think she’s totally right!
If you compare things in Ghana to what you experience in everyday life back at home you will probably get frustrated or disappointed. Infrastructure is falling apart (or was never finished being built in the first place), public transportation is hot, slow and requires touching lots of people, and a positive customer service experience is almost impossible to find!
Despite all these factors that make daily life a little more complicated (or perhaps because of them) I find myself being happy about things I never would have imagined.
- You know that feeling when you’ve had an awful day and one of your friends surprises you with your favourite guilty pleasure snack? Well that’s the feeling I get every time I get home from work and the lights come on after I flick the switch – pure joy!
- When there’s one spot left on the trotro back to my house and I manage to squeeze my way on, I feel like a lottery winner!
- Being able to go to the beach on the weekends, all year round. It might not be super clean and fancy, but you can still put your feet in the sand and hear the waves splashing.
- A cold sachet of water against my forehead while walking home from work.
- Noticing that the donut I bought for breakfast is still warm from frying in the oil… I bite into it with a delicious sense of satisfaction, and it feels like it’s going to be a good day!
Recently I have begun to make a list at the end of each day of three things that I was grateful for that day. It doesn’t have to be something huge… it can be a thoughtful compliment from a friend, a yummy meal, checking something off your to-do list, or a fun activity you tried. It can be on paper, in your head, or in a conversation with a friend (Mike and I used to do this together sometimes when we first arrived). I find it helps to increase happiness throughout the day.
I hope that I can remember to be grateful for the little things when I get back home. It’s way too easy to take the good things in life for granted! As Great Big Sea would say, “It’s just an ordinary day, and it’s all your state of mind. At the end of the day, you’ve just got to say it’s all right…”