Change Yourself…Change The World.


Things That Make Me Happy in Paraguay
December 10, 2012, 9:47 am
Filed under: Paraguay

I think that as an American, I’ve seen that our culture values and really believes that happiness is something that happens to you- if you get that perfect job, meet the perfect man or woman, buy that perfect house, own that new and perfect gadget, or win a million dollars in the lottery, you’ll be happy. Through a myriad of challenging and sometimes miserable experiences of culturally integrating into a foreign culture, and with all of those external forces completely stripped away from my life, I’ve realized the hard way that true and long-lasting happiness is not indeed something that happens TO you; it is something that you create within yourself. A lot of what I’ve had to learn in the Peace Corps is probably one of the most important lessons in life: how to cultivate your own personal happiness.

So I was really inspired by this Happy List on one of my favorite blogs, Love More, Fear Less. As the author aptly describes, a ‘Happy List’ is exactly as it sounds: a list of things that make you feel happy in the present moment. To quote, “my “happy list” has been posted prominently in my bedroom where I see it every morning before I head out the door and every night before I fall asleep. When I’m feeling stressed out, overwhelmed or disconnected, it’s the first place I look to get back on track. Even if I don’t end up doing any of the things listed, it never fails to remind me of the sheer goodness that fills my life. It utterly and completely prevents me from ever feeling bored. It helps me take it easy, see the magic in the ordinary and enjoy what really makes me happy.”

Following cue, I made my own happy list, but specifically for things that make me happy in my community in Caazapá, Paraguay. I tried to focus on actions that I could take complete control of, rather than relying on external forces for happiness (such as ‘lying under an air conditioner when it’s 115 degrees outside’- This certainly makes me happy, but it’s definitely not something in my control since I don’t have one nor can afford it!)

This project is meant to serve as a tool for helping me to cultivate my own personal happiness while in Paraguay, and take control of my life through positive actions when I’m feeling particularly down or challenged. So without further ado- my list of things that make me happy in Caazapá, Paraguay:

Things That Make Me Happy in Caazapá, Paraguay:

– Making a banana smoothie for breakfast
– Running along the small dirt road near my house, where there’s nothing but open fields, cows, and the sun and sky
– Stretching afterwards while watching ‘The Biggest Loser’ (my ritual)
– Taking a nice long cold shower in the summer
– Waving and smiling to neighbors in my barrio as I walk down the street
– Teaching English to my enthusiastic 4th grade class of students- never fails to put a huge smile on my face
– Working and interacting with my boss, Elisa, on
Jóvenes Empresarios del Paraguay
– Hanging out at my cooperative and chatting with my friends/co-workers
– Making homemade mozzarella cheese, roasted vegetable hummus, and rosemary focaccia bread: then eating them all together
– Putting my kitchen scraps into a bucket to feed my little worm friends
– Getting packages, emails, or messages from people I love
– Talking daily to fellow Peace Corps Volunteers
Ben, Molly, or Zoe on the phone
– Talking to my parents or siblings on the phone
– Watching a movie when it’s raining and thundering outside
– Spending the afternoon curled up in my armchair, reading a good book
– Staring at my world map and imagining where I’ll go
in the future and who I’ll be
– Drawing or painting designs on the walls of my house
– Making homemade salt and vinegar chips from
a bag of Lay’s, some vinegar, and salt
– Reading ‘The Economist’ and catching up on world news
– Dancing to my 90’s mix on my computer
– Discussing Paraguay’s issues and solutions over tereré
with my Paraguayan friend Romina
– Drinking tereré with my neighbor and ‘Paraguayan mother’
Mari while the sun is setting
– Cooking while watching a sitcom (Friends, Seinfeld, How I Met Your Mother, and Will and Grace, to name a few)
– Feeding leftover meat to Lassi, my neighbor’s dog, who always waits diligently by my door for scraps
– Sitting down to an amazing dinner that I cooked from scratch
– Having movie nights in my house with my
Paraguayan friends Dennis and Liz
– Skyping with my friends around the world from my computer
– Huddling under my favorite covers with my hot water bottle in the winter (whom I’ve dubbed ‘Enrique Iglesias’)
– Drinking hot chocolate in the winter before going to bed
– Going to sleep in the summer with both my ceiling and floor fans on (it keeps me cool and the sound is very comforting!)

The Peace Corps has taught me that happiness is not your job, what car you own, who you’re married to, or what expensive vacations you take. It’s the little things you do every day in the present moment to appreciate everything you have, and everything you are.

What makes you happy?


4 Comments so far
Leave a comment

You make me happy!!

Comment by Mama

You make me happy too mama!

Comment by brittanygoesglobal

beautiful post Britt! I love you 🙂

Comment by Veronica

I love you too! 🙂

Comment by brittanygoesglobal




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