Posted by: Shanie Matthews | August 25, 2010

Argentina Teaching 5 Lessons of Happiness

It is hard to believe that my Argentine life is coming to an end. Five and a half years has passed by quickly, and with only six weeks left I am beginning to feel the tug on my heartstrings. This beautiful and fascinating country has taught me so much.

So, in light of all of the many moments that have passed since we landed here in 2005, I thought I would reflect on what living in Argentina has taught me. Here are my top picks:

1. Happiness truly is a state of mind. I have written about how those working with garbage in the Llao Llao area are people of real inspiration. They not only are seen hustling, but they usually have a smile on their face. Their ability to work with our cast-aside debris in a positive manner is a way of looking at life that many with much more materialistically will never understand. Such an example that happiness is truly what you make it.

2. The joy of giving keeps on giving. We recently started offering massage gift certificates to some of our longer staying guests of our vacation rental business. This not only has been a benefit for our clients, but has also helped our resident massage therapist, Cristina. Seeing the joy from customer and associate alike, has brought an immense amount of happiness into my life.

Not to mention how excited we were to hear how much money was raised to support the Fundación Cruzada Patagonica from our winter clothing drive with friends from Lake Tahoe, California. How can you not smile when you know that the same gear that would of been stuffed in a closet was able to put food on the table, books in the school library, and warm coats on needy children?

3. Take your time. Argentina, outside of el capital de Buenos Aires,  is a pretty laid-back place. Employees are never reprimanded for hanging out and chatting. It is a daily ritual to get together and drink mate. It’s even one of the favorite pastimes of Argentines to hang out in lines, as we were told jokingly by a native when we first moved to the country. Life is not to be rushed through. Take your time. Smell the roses. Talk with a friend. Give him or her a kiss on the cheek. It’s all good, because if, god forbid, tragedy struck, would the first thing on your mind be, “Gosh, I sure wish I would of hurried through this day quicker.” Probably not. But chances are there have been people that have wished they had slowed down as they passed to the other side.

argie employees

4. On that note, spending time with family. It is absolutely amazing and impressive to me the love that is outwardly shown amongst families here. I know it is a Latin thing, and the Chileans represented the same mind-set when we were in Chile recently, but I find the exchange of caring so heart-warming. Elderly grandparents walking arm in arm with their teenage grandchild. A rebellious looking adolescent holding the hand and chatting with his younger sister. A father offering a warm, loving embrace to his son in public and the kid accepting it happily. All of these are common place here. A beautiful aspect to this culture, indeed.

5. That owning a new car is not that important. Argentines are not afraid to drive a beat up car. And they don’t baby them either. There have been debilitated, rusting out, no-fender, wheels-askew cars passing us with gumption many times in our multiple years of living here. Growing up in a household where a single scratch to the family automobile was cause for drama, I absolutely love not caring about how shiny my ride is. It’s not that we don’t appreciate the car, but we understand through the example of the Argentine that the materialistic quality of the car you drive has no connection to who you are as a human  being.

Mate car

Thank you Argentina for these lessons and the many, many others.



  1. […] not only the U.S. and German cultures, but being an exchange student also prepared me for my life in Argentina — an amazing experience that has enriched my life with many lifelong […]

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in: Logo

You are commenting using your account. Log Out /  Change )

Google+ photo

You are commenting using your Google+ account. Log Out /  Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )


Connecting to %s


%d bloggers like this: