I have often found that when compared to South East Asia, the western culture is fast paced and focuses on things that don’t actually matter. We strive to find happiness and contentment in life but our methods tend to fall short. The car you drive, the clothes you wear and the house you live in are not a definition of your true passions in life. They will never bring you a sense of wholeness.
There are remedies for the western world and many things to learn from Thailand that can be found in the way Thai people view life.
1. Happy Regardless of Circumstance
Thai people have a happiness in them regardless of what they own. Something to learn from Thailand is to appreciate what you have. Thai’s keep life simple, often having a small business that brings enough money in to sustain them. Some don’t have a real home but you can see them smiling as they sit under an aluminum roof with the rest of their family. Kids play with sticks in the dirt with more enthusiasm than a child sitting on a cozy couch playing video games n North America.
2. Living Off the Land
While most of us don’t live in a climate that allows fresh exotic fruits to grow abundantly, there are still some things we can use from nature. Many of the herbs and fruits that grow naturally can also be used medicinally. In most countries, there are native plants, fruits and vegetables that you can grow. In a culture like ours that is now concerned about pesticides, grow your own organic plants in whatever space you have. Find out about the medicinal herbs that grow in your area.
3. Taking a Nap
All over Thailand, you’ll see people closing their eyes for a quick cat nap whenever the opportunity arises. Whether they’re sitting up, standing or laying down, it’s not abnormal for someone to take a nap in a public place. While they work long hours, they take the opportunity to shut their eyes throughout the day many times. Their ability to fall asleep even in the middle of a busy place symbolizes that they can shut out the world and find relaxation anywhere.
4. Overcome Obstacles with a Smile
This is a big point to learn from Thailand. Thai people have a way of dealing with things that ensure they never really stress out. They seem to realize that for every problem, there is a solution they can offer. They are innovative in their problem solving. For example, if there is a day the government states no alcohol can be sold, a bar will put your beer in a plastic cup.
If they aren’t supposed to sell things in a certain area, they put their whole business on wheels. That way, if the police do come, they can roll away without getting caught out. I have never seen a Thai person get stressed in a moment of chaos. You think they’re not taking action because they’re not running around but they figure out a solution in their own time.
5. Family Dynamics
Family takes care of family throughout their lifetime. A grandmother is respected and the matriarch of the family. She will never be sent to an old folks home, instead her children will take care of her and go to work to pay the bills. Family sticks together and supports one another so there’s little loneliness in life’s journey for the Thais. While our social structure in the West is much different, it’s still an important lesson to learn from Thailand: family matters.
6. Devout Buddhists
The land of Buddhists don’t label yoga and meditation as some trendy activity. It’s a way of life and you will see the tiniest toddler put their hands together and bow to Buddha. They are real about meditation, going into monasteries for weeks of silence. You lay on cement at night and wake up before dawn.
Their way of viewing meditation is a sense of respect for their religion as opposed to a way of not yelling at your kids. Maybe their meditative practices and lessons in the Buddhist philosophy are why Thai people live in the way they do.
Featured photo credit: Tord Remme/flickr via flickr.com