I’m Not Supposed to be Happy

Cassandra Boom
2 min readApr 29, 2022

8 Lessons Learned From the Third World

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If you were to compile all of the trials and tribulations of my past and my present-day life, you will find countless reasons to be … well, fucking miserable.

My commitment to joy feels like an act of rebellion.

When I worked in international development in a small village in Ecuador that had no roads, no street signs, no stores, no wealth… I was surprised to discover an enormous amount of joy, and gratitude.

What they lacked in material possessions, they made up for with pure, uninhibited joy.

They seemed to laugh louder, and be kinder with one another.

Their sense of community was palpable and they loved abundantly.

When you went there, they were quick to share the little they had with you, daily invitations for dinner because everyone wanted to get to know you.

When I returned to Canada, after spending quite a bit of time abroad, I had reverse culture shock. It wasn’t because it was freezing cold and wintertime, or because I missed the Spanish language… it was because suddenly, I was surrounded by people who not only had SO MANY things that the people in the village couldn’t even dream of, but they were so ungrateful and often miserable.

PSA: The First-world problems thing is REAL.

From that moment on, I made a commitment to always find a way to come back to my gratitude.

No matter what is happening in my life the following things are true and worthy of gratitude:

I can drink clean water from my tap without becoming ill.

I have hot water.

I have windows that I can close.

I have more than one pair of shoes.

I have internet and many smart devices to enjoy it from.

I’m well-educated, and had access to student loans to help me get there.

When my children are sick, I can afford medicine and healthcare.

I am healthy, strong and able to work.

The shift that occurs when you stop hyper-focusing on what you don’t have is powerful.

We are very rich, in the ways that matter most and could probably feel more fortunate to live this comfortably.

Quick, name 3 things that you are grateful for in the comments.



Cassandra Boom

Trauma-Informed Psychotherapist-in-Training & Editor of The Upside Publication. Podcaster & Poet that’s Radically Honest & Defiantly Happy. Hi!