On my recent trip to Sri Lanka I volunteered on a number of projects to help local children and old people. We were staying in fairly basic accommodation and there was an older man called Janaka who looked after us. He made us our meals every day and seemed never to stop. He also never stopped smiling!
His English wasn’t perfect but better than my Sinhalese. At the end of our stay we said our goodbyes and thanked him profusely for looking after us.
He then said something that took me aback. He said “Please tell me what I have done bad?” I of course confirmed that he had been brilliant in looking after us, the food was great etc… But then he said “I can’t get better if I don’t know what I have done bad”.
I was completely humbled by this man, who had very little materially and worked night and day (yet he was one of the happiest people I have ever met). Even in his relatively lowly job, which he had been doing for years, he still wanted to know how he could improve himself. Perhaps this was a clue to his happiness.
There seems to be a lesson here for all of us. If life is a journey then we all need a sense of progress. Self-improvement certainly gives us that sense. So now and then, stop and ask yourself; “what have I done bad?”