Costa Rica 2014 – Part 3

InPrisonAndVisitedOne thing that has struck me during this time in Costa Rica is something that strikes me every time I travel in the developing world. When I travel in the developing world I’m always reminded of how high our expectations are as residents of the U. S. We expect to have our own room. We expect to have meat at every meal if we want it. We expect that the electricity will always be on unless there is an emergency. We expect to have these and many other needs met as a natural and ongoing part of our lives and if they aren’t for some reason we feel as if we’ve been shortchanged. Most of us are blessed because our expectations are almost always fulfilled.

But having these (and our many other expectations) met doesn’t necessarily make us happy. Many people who have most if not all of their expectations met just aren’t happy. It’s been shown over and over again that material prosperity, convenience and comfort don’t automatically translate into happiness.

The expectations of people in Costa Rica are much more modest than they are for most of us. Rooms are shared. Meat is a luxury that must be stretched when it’s available. Rarely, is meat the centerpiece of the meal. Electricity is almost always available but it can go out most any time and sometimes it just does. It went out for no apparent reason for about an hour or so while we were here. But even though expectations are a good bit lower here than in the U. S. life goes on. And it goes on with faith and hope and joy.

I have learned a great deal from those whose expectations are lower than mine. One thing that I’ve learned from these friends is that I don’t need nearly as much as I think I do. I can tone down my expectations a good bit and it will be fine. I don’t need as much room or as much meat (food) or constant electricity to be happy and fulfilled.

Happiness and fulfillment come from having a deep and meaningful relationship with God and from having deep and meaningful relationships with other people. That can be done most anywhere or any time with far fewer resources than I sometimes think that I have to have. I’m learning to redirect my expectations toward maximizing my relationship with God and with others.

That is one of the wonderful gifts that I’ve received from my time in Costa Rica, Chile and the other places I’ve been privileged to visit. May God bless us all to find out what really matters rather than settling for that which looks good but turns out to be hollow and unfulfilling.

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