Every year, for the past thirty-five years, the World Bank has published the World Development Indicators (WDI), a fine collection of data on developing countries. The 2013 issue of the WDI is unusually telling. Deep into the report, there is a table that shows the status and the evolution of extreme poverty, that is, of people who live on 1.25 dollars a day or less. Thing about it: $1.25 a day. How would your life look if you had to live on that? To start with, your house – if you had something that could be called a house – would have no electricity, gas, running water, or sewer. So no TV, refrigerator, showers, or toilet for you. How about toothpaste, contraceptives, or motorized transport? You’d surely not spend your $1.25 on any of that. If you got sick – which would be very likely in your sanitary and nutritional condition – you couldn’t afford any medicine. In fact, you’d save your meager cash to buy food, just to keep yourself and your family alive. It would all add up to a miserable existence, wouldn’t it? It is even difficult to imagine that, in the twenty-first century, anyone lives such a nineteenth-century life.
Well, 1.2 billion people do, according to the 2013 WDI… that’s a huge proportion of the world’s seven billion human beings. It makes you wonder what development experts and financiers have been doing all these years. And yet, behind the horror, shame, and urgency of those figures, there is, believe it or not, news of hope.
To read more about how economic growth can be used to “squash extreme poverty,” check out Marcelo M. Giugale’s Economic Development: What Everyone Needs to Know.
Image credit: Barefoot on Red Dirt by FrankOWeaver (2013). Public domain via Wikimedia Commons.
Sorrow prepares you for joy. It violently sweeps everything out of your house, so that new joy can find space to enter. It shakes the yellow leaves from the bough of your heart, so that fresh, green leaves can grow in their place. It pulls up the rotten roots, so that new roots hidden beneath have room to grow. Whatever sorrow shakes from your heart, far better things will take their place.
I came across this picture this morning from the Boston Marathon 5k race… This man has two prosthetic legs and one, yet he’s still out there running. Can you remind me again what your excuse was?
If this doesn’t inspire you to get up and run than you need to stop and reevaluate your life completely.
Running isn’t just for the fast, it’s for everyone who’s strong and who believes in themselves. Don’t let a disability, weight or even fear stop you from doing something that’ll change your life for the better.
There’s something about this mass that’s so transcendental and deep and fulfilling. Not a word is spoken during the service, not a peep. The altar is stripped of its vestments and instruments. Its washed with careful humble and deliberate hands. And with the church barely lit with what little light seeps through the windows, we sit in darkness on old creaky wooden pews still having a faint smell of fresh lemon furniture polish from yesterdays cleaning crew. We sit still— moved— and in deep fascination by the unmoved, bare and naked altar. Something always happens here and it’s an experience that I enjoy and appreciate so much. Maunday Thursday.
Sometimes you meet someone, and it’s so clear that the two of you, on some level belong together. As lovers, or as friends, or as family, or as something entirely different. You just work, whether you understand one another or you’re in love or you’re partners in crime. You meet these people throughout your life, out of nowhere, under the strangest circumstances, and they help you feel alive. I don’t know if that makes me believe in coincidence, or fate, or sheer blind luck, but it definitely makes me believe in something.
crabsocks asked: Can you give me a few steps to becoming a happier person please?
Sure, this seems like a fair question. I’ll give some practical tips and some philosophical ones.
1. In the morning, laugh immediately the first moment that you realize you are awake. It is harder than it sounds. Fake laugh, laugh hard, then harder. For no reason.
2. Eat healthily, whatever that means to you.
3. Meditate for ten minutes every day.
4. Engage your body fully in something every other day. Running, yoga, working out, dancing, and swimming are just a few ways.
5. Disengage from electronic devices around a half hour before bedtime. Slow down and read a book, sit for another meditation, or make some tea and listen to relaxing music.
You wont regret any of it.
1. Happiness is not something added to you. It is your very being. When you are feeling truly happy, you are feeling yourself wholly and unobstructedly. Therefore you cannot become happier. Nor can anything give you happiness. The only happiness you have ever felt is the radiance of your existence. Don’t make happiness a struggle, just come to know your existence.
2. Don’t wait for an excuse to be happy. Circumstances, people, objects, all of these things may give us a pleasurable experience that we meet happily. That’s okay. But it is ignorant and inefficient to wait for circumstances, people, and objects before getting in touch with that happiness within. Happiness is not a commodity ruled by supply and demand.
3. If something seems like it can give you happiness, ask yourself how well it will age. Happiness is timeless. A passion, an inspiration, an appreciation, all of these things can groove with change. They are intimate inner forms of love that find happiness wherever they look. They help shift the awareness of happiness from an object itself to the formless art.
4. Life experienced through a human body is a mix of things the mind finds painful and things the mind finds pleasurable. Happiness does not consist in avoiding one and clinging to the other. This is one of the hardest lessons to learn but also the most valuable. I’d recommend the book The Places That Scare You by Pema Chodron as a place to begin.