I had to give this elephant three extra peanuts to do this!
Ok guys, many of you have been following my blog for years. You have seen and read how my life changes on a daily basis!. I don’t consider myself to be an expert writer. However, I think I am good at expressing how I feel, and how I turn that feeling into a life lesson. And use it to enhance my daily goal of being happy from the heart and the head. I think this is what is called ‘balance’!
I am going to share a few stories with you that has taught me the simplicity of life and how easy it is to complicate things.
Every person I have spoken with, I have asked the question…”What is the Purpose of Life?” Everyone has the same answer.
“TO BE HAPPY!” So what is “being happy?”. I have the answer….”for me”. First…I do not have the power to make someone happy or sad! . But I do have the power to share my experiences strengths and hopes with others. Then and only then do they have a choice to change.
If all you did was just look for things to appreciate you would live a joyous, spectacular life. If there was nothing else that you ever came to understand other than just look for things to appreciate, it’s the only tool you would ever need to predominantly hook you up with who you really are. That’s all you’d need. — Abraham
OK, what is this being happy thing mean to me? My lesson started in Mexico, where I spent time with the Mayan Indians, and I now continue with my experience learning from the people of Thailand. I thought having money was my answer. Well, I proved that wrong!. Although, I know many people who have money, and are very happy. However, some are not. So being happy to me means “Being at total peace with oneself and with who I am.” Keeping my stress levels down (I have learned, stress is not bad, it’s a sign that something is out of balance). I carry zero resentment against any person, place or thing. So simple: NO ! Re-programing my hard drive (head) is a challenge!
A lesson from Thailand….. accept things the way they are!. This does not mean one needs to stay quiet, but voice your opinion if it differs from others … without attacking.
Now…onto a few examples of my lessons for the week. I call this country a beep-less society, almost everyone rides motorcycles here, you very rarely hear a horn beep. Every two weeks we rent a car to get our visa stamped. I have to do this until I get my retirement visa!. It is about a 50-mile trip. Fernando, one of our volunteers, drives each time we need to get the visa. On one occasion, at the traffic lights, he accidentally beeped the horn. There were about 20 motor cycles ahead of us. All 20 heads turned and looked at us, as if to say, “what is the problem?” Not with anger, but with the thought “can I help you?”.
Karma Insurance….I have witnessed several accidents.And on each occasion, I have never heard a raised voice and no fights. The first question they ask, is “are you alright?” Back to the karma thought “It was meant to be”. If there is any serious damage, a policeman is called. The police then evaluate the accident and determine who was at fault; the one who was to blame pays the other for the damage. If they don’t have the money, they work out the means of payment. Thus “End of story”! To call an attorney isn’t even on their agenda.
Now if there is a more serious accident, where a fatality is involved, no matter who is at fault the other party makes a donation to the grieving family. A U.S. lawyer could never make a living here!.
The lesson I have learned is, some things are just “meant to be” however, every experience has a life lesson attached!
Shopping at the Market…yesterday we went to the market to buy food for our IHF Orphanage. We go about two times a week. Our monthly budget is very low for food, it’s about $500 a month to feed 20 (16 kids and four volunteers). I had the grocery list in my back pocket, which was about to fall out. A man on a motorcycle stopped and told me the list was ready to fall and then drove off. This is a normal thing to do here. To help and look out for one another, with no expectation of anything in return.
Another vitally important lesson: Food is very cheap here. Oh yes and kindness comes in different packages. Do something for someone you will never see again? Forget the saying “what goes around comes…….” Just do what’s right… for another person”!
Put people before business: When we go to the market, we buy from many different venders. We take the purchased food and pile it up, next to the road. There is never ever a thought in anyone’s mind to take and run off with the food. It’s not even a “should I” thought that crosses their minds. Of course when we buy something, we negotiate the price, but there is always a mutual respect on both sides.
Now this gets better. We do not have a vehicle at the center, so we take a Tuk-Tuk (Three wheeler) to the market. On our return trip, we take the mini truck (blue taxi) because we have so many groceries. The other day we were about two miles from the market and a motorcyclist races up to us saying, “You have forgotten this broom”, which we had just purchased. A 60 cent broom returned to us by someone who we didn’t know, let alone purchased it from.! WOW! I am again astonished by the principles of this culture.
My lesson: I must do what my heart tells me and not let my head confuse me with what the real purpose of my life is!
Adjusting to the culture: Sometimes I think “why they can’t do what I would do. It would be so much easier?” This has been a real challenge for me! To think maybe they’re right, and I’m wrong. Who am I to question someone who is at more peace than I have ever been? So adjusting and accepting is my quest.
Tipping can be seen as an insult: Excuse me!. Everyone knows in the Western world and parts of Europe, and most definitely in Mexico, people depend on tips to survive. In these countries, it’s a way one says, “Thank You”. However, in Thailand it’s a different story completely!.
I was totally confused when I gave a tip a couple of times to the cab drivers or waiters at the restaurants. I would get a strange look of dismay or uncertainty, as to what they should do. They would just stand there with the money in their hands, not knowing what to do with it. I would try to explain they did an excellent job, and I would like to thank them, for their good service. Initially I was puzzled and thought perhaps, “was the tip not enough?”
Recently I had dinner with a friend, Neal, who has a Thai girlfriend. He explained to me, the right tip is 20 baht per table, which is about 60 cents. The cost of the meal has nothing to do with it. If you give a larger tip, it is seen as an insult. This is perceived by most Thai people Westerners are alluding to the fact that… ’I have money and I am better than you’.
Remember in Thailand almost everyone believes in mutual respect and that they are equal, no one is better or worse . These are the teachings of Buddha that is practiced by many. Now I understand the insignificance of money, to Thai people, it is about respect!
My lesson: We are all equal! By putting myself on a pedestal means I used to have to look down at everything, now… I am on the same level. ”Off the pedestal!” Today, I realise that… the answers, I have been searching for, have always been right in front of my eyes!
And…I learned all this in one week. My next story will be about my visit to a little village, which consists of 300 people, and the lessons they will teach me.
I can’t figure this thing out? Everyone was saying how beautiful this hat was. But, when I wore it… the women would run the other way? What am I doing wrong?……..JIM
Other links of videos a stories I have done in the past few months……….
Feel free to use any or all of this story or links with any friends or websites. Of course no compensation is necessary.
IHF website http://www.ihfonline.org/
“White Tempe” video
“Thailand Travel” video with volunteer message.
IHF “International Humanity Foundation” orphanage video
Written stories about volunteering. A volunteers view !
Have you ever considered volunteering in another country ?