Cambodian girl

Today I have been looking at some photos and posts on Facebook from a friend in Cambodia, he was our tour guide when we travelled there in the summer of 2011/2012. At the time I posted about our relationship to food compared to the Cambodian attitude.

Looking through his photos, especially the photos of children in Cambodia reminded me of a trip we took with him to go and visit what he described as some of the poorest people in Cambodia who lived in a water village. They lived on and next to a “lake”, in a mixture of huts, floating houses and dinghy’s. The kids some of them tiny, probably only 2 years old very easily handled a large boat and were able to row themselves to school if they were lucky enough to go. We were able to give a whole bunch of note books, pens, soap etc to these kids who were so appreciative.

Inquisitive Cambodian child

The Cambodian people had a profound effect on me. In my experience, the less people have (I am talking about “stuff” material things), the happier they are. People who by western standards have “nothing” actually have everything. They know their own value, these people are truly grateful for what they have and don’t dwell on, or complain about what they don’t have.

In the western world we have so much stuff and many are so unhappy, just as we do with food, we have emotional attachments to stuff. It is as if the stuff is part of us and if we don’t have “enough stuff”, the “right stuff” or the “latest stuff”, we are not good enough, life is not OK, we can’t possibly be happy.

There are people who are so attached to stuff that they are literally drowning under it and need intervention of council workers, professional organisers and therapists just to help them part with their stuff!

Stuff will not make you happy, you may briefly enjoy having something new and different but it wears off very quickly and you now need more stuff to feel OK. Many children in the west get mountains of expensive beautifully wrapped gifts for Christmas but it doesn’t stop them from complaining that they didn’t get enough stuff or their stuff isn’t as good as someone else’s stuff, as if our happiness depends on having something more or better than someone else. They had to learn it from someone, we are the ones that teach them that you are not OK if you don’t have lots of stuff!

I remember trying to explain this to someone in Cambodia but I think they found it too hard to comprehend, I don’t blame them, it makes no sense! We are born into this world without stuff and leave this world without stuff, we need to find value in ourselves and our relationships with each other and acceptance of what “is”, that is the key to happiness!

I encourage you to start a Gratitude Diary. Every day, write a list of at least 10 things you are grateful for. If you can’t think of anything I would suggest being grateful for: having access to a computer and internet so you can read this post, having a pen and a book that you can use as a diary, having electricity, hot water, clean water, shelter, food etc. Focusing on what you have, will change the way you think about your life!

Cambodian family home

“People are just as happy as they make up their minds to be.” – Abraham Lincoln

“Happiness is not the absence of problems but the ability to deal with them.” – Charles Louis de Montesquieu (1689-1755)


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