I recently ventured into life in a Third World country to visit my family.
I hopped off the plane, collected my luggage and out the door I went into another realm of reality that I wasn’t accustomed to. “So much pollution,” I sighed. “Shanty houses everywhere,” I said to myself.
The list of observations went on and after about half an hour of driving on the road I just had to wake up to myself.
The only observations I was opening my eyes to were everything and anything negative; as if all I was seeing was just simply a miserable reality. Well, really, if you’ve grown up in a First World country for pretty much your whole life, comparing was inevitable.
I’ve realised that there’s a lot of discussion comparing the state and reality of happiness in First World and Third World countries.
SO… this sparks the question: which reality is the happier one? A First World reality or a Third World reality.
In a First World reality you are given three full meals a day, get a good education and pay later. If you don’t have a job then it’s all fine and dandy, the government can help you out with that too.
In a Third World reality you have to beg for food on the streets or from the cars that pass by. There are days when hope seems lightyears away. If you can’t afford an education, you don’t get one. SIMPLE.
In a First World reality people complain about heavy workloads, are obsessed with fad diets and worry about the amount of laundry that has to be done.
In a Third World reality people hunger for a workload; they beg in the streets day in and day out – out of love – to provide for their children and families.
SO… let’s look at the bigger picture. Perhaps, people living in a Third World reality are actually excelling in their pursuit of happiness as much as people living in a First World reality.
Why? Maybe because many people living in a Third World country perceive First World ‘burdens’ as their ‘blessings’.
In order to appreciate something that is ‘good’ we must also have a sense of what we perceive as ‘not good’.
In a First World reality possessions are seen as the ‘good’ which will make us ultimately happy. But is this really the case?
In a Third World reality where poverty is widespread, and personal belongings aren’t always a given, there is an emphasis placed on the love of people rather than on possessions.
It’s impossible to advance in our pursuit of happiness without first experiencing struggles and failures in life.
Personally, I dislike the word ‘struggle’ and ‘failure’ a lot. Instead, I like to call them ‘opportunities’- as in opportunities to learn to appreciate and be content with the simple things.
I find it very empowering that I can be content with simple things now that I’ve experienced a reality different from the one that I am used to.
I refuse to have my happiness defined by a designer handbag. My pursuit of happiness is to live simply and I now understand that my own pursuit of happiness is not weighed down by a predominantly materialistic worldview of happiness.
I am positive that my head isn’t crushed under the foot of superficiality.
~ Paula Ahillon