They have Nothing. How can they be Happy?

A few weeks ago, I was chatting with my parents about my recent trip to Nicaragua. There were so many...

A few weeks ago, I was chatting with my parents about my recent trip to Nicaragua. There were so many reasons why I loved this trip and continued to be impacted by it. One of the biggest reasons was that the people from Nicaragua were so happy. They always had a smile on their face, waving to everyone, constantly giving, and provided hospitality beyond what we’re used to. 

As I was explaining this trip, I shared that one of my daughter’s favorite activities included saying “hola” or waving to the people as we passed by. As I saw the Nicaraguan’s responses, along with Kiley’s giddiness, I had to jump in. I was astonished at the fact that everyone said “Hola” back or waved with a huge smile. It was amazing! I knew our small “Hello” and wave impacted them. From this, my heart was full. 

In our return to Cincinnati, Kiley and I have tried to continue spreading this joy to others – Not at all the same response. Instead, we received silence and blank stares. I even walked by a women in the gym, waved and said “hi,” made eye contact, and still – nothing. 

After I shared this with my parents, they mentioned that I said the exact same thing when my wife and I returned from India several years ago (We went with Aruna, an organization that I am on the board of). 

So the question is, why are the people of Nicaragua and India so happy? 

A common paradigm from the U.S. is that we believe that people from poorer countries cannot be happy because they have less than us. 

However, I would argue that though they may be poor in what the United States culture values, they are rich in what God values.

If you have read my book, Win at Home First, a framework I believe completely in, you will begin to understand the Five Capitals. You can read more about the five capitals in my book or even take the Prioritized Life assessment here to see how your five capitals rank.

Click here to download the first chapter of Win at Home First for free today!

In short, the Five Capitals is a framework was created from a Bible parables, and in response to what Jesus said in John 10:10, “I have come to bring life to the full.” But what would a full life look like?


The Five Capitals are:

  • Spiritual: Your relationship with God. Your purpose.
  • Relational: Your relationship with others. Your people.
  • Physical: Your time and energy to invest. Your pace.
  • Intellectual: Your insight and ideas. Your perception.
  • Financial: Your money to invest in others. Your profits.

Overall, these people have their Five Capitals in the right order. 

As you study the Five Capitals, you can see why the people from Nicaragua and India are so happy. They have their Five Capitals in the right order.

The communities that we spent time in and were involved in had a relationship with God. They prayed throughout the day. They acted like Jesus by serving us food or giving us water. 

Relationally, they had strong family units. They were multi-generational families living either on the same plot of land or nearby. There were numerous community activities and lots of pick up soccer games.

Physically, they had a healthy pace. A common phrase we were told by our partners, Amigos for Christ, was ‘relationship over task.’ We worked hard, but we also took time to rest after the fact. Nicaraguans were adamant about getting in their full hour lunch. They also would take 10-minute breaks here and there. They had phones and access to the internet, but they weren’t glued to their phones. The people were the entertainment, not their hand-held devices.

Intellectually, they were open to new ideas. The ones we worked with asked us questions about our life, our family, about the USA. Intellectually open people ultimately want to see the world through other eyes, as opposed to us, where we want everyone to see the world through our own eyes.

Financially, they didn’t have a surplus of anything. However, they had the bare essentials. Clothes, shelter, and food.


Then why are we so unhappy?

Right now, I have a few clients that are not so happy. I have been in the same funk before. When asking questions to these clients, it is evident that their Five Capitals are in the wrong order.

Financially, these clients are very doing great. By worldly standards, they are wealthy. They have money coming in, money is being saved, and a surplus of money each month to buy anything they need or want they have.

Intellectually, they are learning all the business stuff they can. They fill every blank moment with noise from different books or podcasts, and never time for solitude or good.

Physically, there is no rest. They get up early to work in the morning and have their laptop on in the evening. They work most weekends. In their life, there’s no time for the gym because they are constantly trying to keep up with work.

Relationally, they are dried up. There’s no time to spend with their friends because of the amount of time they spend at work. Even when they are at home, these executives don’t have much to give because their tanks are empty.

Lastly, their Spiritual capital is weak. They lack making time for journaling, praying, or even just solitude.


However, there’s great news! You can recalibrate!

These executives, and maybe you as well, can recalibrate if you find your capitals in the wrong order.

It’s important to work to get the spiritual capital back to the top. Things like reading scripture, practicing gratitude by journaling in the morning and evening what you are grateful for, serving others, loving others, and acting like Jesus are all things that bring us closer to Him.

Spending time with your friends and family members is also important. Grabbing lunch with a buddy, or going on a date with your wife are quick steps you can take. 

Physically, go out and break a sweat. Work out. Do yard work. Also, change your place and pace to bring a new perspective. Taking a long weekend and going somewhere can really help. Or even driving a different way to work can make a difference. 

I have been sharing this short video with clients and in my talks. I love the quote in this video: “Routine is the enemy of time.” I completely agree.

Yes, it is important to read books and listen to podcasts, but don’t fill up every waking hour by trying to fill your brain with knowledge. You’ll end up forgetting more than you remember. Plus, wisdom cultivated from what you have already read or heard while being mixed with solitude and prayer, will beat out any new knowledge you bring in.


What are the next steps?

Recalibrate. As each day progresses, try and get the Five Capitals in the right order in your life. Day by day, week by week take the steps to realign your life. To take the first step, try downloading the first chapter of Win at Home First for free by clicking here.  If you take a step backward, that is alright, just recalibrate again. Just don’t stay in the funk.



Cory Carlson

Director of Business Development and Five Capitals Certified Coach