A friend of mine told me today that she worked at a fast food joint for work experience and only lasted a day. It was a pressure cooker. You're on your feet for hours. There's a timer that goes off every few minutes and you have to do everything asap. It's fast food hence, minute after minute, like a factory, food needs to churned out. Well, she returned home that night feeling like a legless zombie. She was exhausted and it was only her first day! She complained to her parents that it was one of the toughest days she's ever had to endure. Period. Her father said something so simple and sometimes, the most simplest messages are the most profound "Good. this means you know what you DON'T want to do" and from that day on, she took her studies really seriously so that she would have the freedom of CHOICE. She's now got some high flying job with an international company with huge responsibilities. She's happy she's not flipping burgers but now that she has the cash, the credit cards etc, she laments that she doesn't have the TIME nor the PEACE of mind due to her stressful job. It's still a pressure cooker. Just a different kind.
When I was in Thailand last week, I was looking at all the street peddlars. There was this guy frying something. He was squinting away from the pan. The sun was torturous making it terribly uncomfortable to be cooking in this weather. I had just got out of an air conditioned cab myself and I was shocked by the heat. It was one of those moments where I was partly awed and partly humbled by how hard these people were working just to make a living. I can't remember what was in my head before I got out of the cab but I remembered to be grateful for my life. If we all tried to focus on what we have, rather than what we lack, we would be happier with ourselves.
What's so amazing is how those who seem to have so little can give so much. It's not good to generalise but I get more smiles on my travels from simple folk than rich folk (who supposedly have "more" opportunities, more stuff etc so why aren't they smiling more too?)
When I was in a remote village in China near the Himalayas, I walked past tribal kids giggling around me fascinated by everything. Women stopped sewing just to smile and an old man smoking his opium pipe nodded at me in greeting while I was passing by. They weren't jaded like a lot of us are in this world always searching for more excitement, more of this or that.
Their lives were so simple. Untouched by the material world. Their homes were made of stone with no doors. I could walk right into them. The air was really fresh at that altitude and the women wore such colourful outfits they probably made themselves. Ironically, they probably had less possessions than the street peddlars in Bangkok but they lived such a good life. And there was no RUSH. No pollution either so what I'm getting at is just stop and think about the quality of the life you're leading rather than how much you have in your bank account! :)