Friday, 24 May 2013

How To Be Happy

This week I was in a conversation with a lawyer and a government official. They were chatting about level of happiness and how this differs depending on a persons economic standing. They chatted away in Khmer together and then when they’d come to a conclusion, they translated to me.

They said, for the poor, it is very easy to be happy. All they need is food and sleep, and they will be happy. They then said that for the middle class it is a little harder because they want more, so they want a good house and a good job also to be happy. And then for the rich, “Oh” they said, “it is very difficult for the rich to be happy. For they want the food and sleep and good job and good house, but they also want power and control and respect. Without all of those things they are not happy. So maybe, it is better to be poor. Maybe then we would be more happy.”

I sat there stunned. Here were two Khmer people doing fairly well in a country that is struggling with poverty. And yet here they were almost envious of the poor.

In none of my writing do I ever want to make poverty seem glamorous or something that’s not deadly, painful, and just plain hard. But I think we can all learn a lot from those who do live in poverty every day. I know that I learn a lot from those people. I question what I believe to be things I need. I question how much I buy in to commercialism. I look and examine myself.

Poverty is not something I seek after, as I have seen firsthand the absolute horror of what those in poverty live through. But maybe there are things in the mindset of the people in those situations that I could adopt. How could I become more appreciative of what I have, and less worried about what I don't? How could I be more content, no matter my circumstances? How could you?

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