We have all heard the saying “Change your perspective, change your life” …but when we are so used to the monotony our day to day affairs how can we really restart the thinking process? For many, a retreat into a foreign land is the perfect way to recalibrate our response and perspectives. After all, being in a completely new environment will have you looking at the world from a new context and gives the opportunity to redefine yourself and your opinions in the moment. I had the most beautiful experience that changed my life in Cambodia. Many people don’t know this, but Cambodia is a secret gem because of something that is difficult to put into words. There is a multitude of reasons to visit Cambodia. Besides the stunning views, smiles of the people and a $.50 beer, there is a charm that goes much deeper. Visiting Cambodia is simply good for the soul. “Why?”, you ask. It is because there is something far deeper penetrating every little day-to-day interaction with these people. This quality and perspective that I speak of, I believe, comes from the humility of being a young nation in the aftermath of destruction following the civil war and the gratitude to live each moment with the pure joy to be alive and to share.
Of course, there are geographical differences that affect how strong you may feel this. It is in its purest form when you get to the rural countryside. It definitely doesn’t take long to get into the countryside from a metropolitan area… Sometimes you simply drive a few minutes from the city and see yourself surrounded by rice fields or mangoes. When you get there, there is something so genuine and pure about the way the villagers go about life. Even in the smaller cities you can still feel it in all day to day errands and stops at shops and at the market. It is a contagious, joyous, accepting nonchalance. It is a refreshment from the hustle and bustle of western civilization. This is why in the major cities, it is not the same. The big cities are highly influenced by western civilization, culture and some societal pressures. Many Cambodian people who live in the city have been pushed into one-room shacks to build multimillion-dollar buildings. For this reason, some jaded ways of viewing the world are creeping into the city. Though not everyone has been swept away by all the changes… There is still a multitude of gems and genuine smiles at every corner.
So, when you submerge yourself in this culture, you are able to learn more about the art of happiness. Rural Cambodians live for the day. It is apparent that they work hard, rest hard, party hard and spend a lot of time with the people they love. Every interaction is looked upon with the spice of curiosity and the simple innocence of experiencing a new situation for the first time. How wonderful would western people feel if they were able to live with this perspective? It is a gift for our consciousness! To have the opportunity to emerge in a place where people simply do not stress the small stuff, they innocently laugh off any stress or sense of urgency, don’t spend countless hours of time asking why, when something bad happens they just move forward and accept. These teachings are so simple, but sometimes they cannot be fully understood unless you can see them in action.
When we are able to incorporate these viewpoints into the way we live our day to day life, we can feel joy much easier. It is easy to believe these concepts, but it is far harder to adjust your mindset in the day to day affairs. In so many instances, people may believe that they live like this until they see others who are truly living this way. Even spending one afternoon, sitting in the rural countryside and having a picnic on someone’s bamboo table will help you to relax into the joy of being that s living underneath all of the expectations, perceived urgency, fear and stress. They will teach you that Joy is not something to reach for or find, it is something that we can feel in each moment if we can learn to let go and unlearn the mindset that we were raised amongst.
From the times, countless times, I’ve been broken down on the side of the road with a mechanical motor issue, I have always been picked up by a local, taken to the nearest mechanic, given mango with chilli and charged a few dollars if that! And many of these cases, they have actually driven out to my broken vehicle and fixed it there on-site for less than five dollars. I will be sitting with their family, having a laugh and watching the kids and animals in the field. Honestly, some of my favourite memories have happened while waiting for my motorbike to get fixed. Cambodian people have taught me so much about being present, not stressing the small stuff and being generous. We all know that life has its ups and downs and things go sour, but why do we spend so much time asking, “why me?”.” We all have our struggles, we are all human and wasting our time on thoughts like “why?” or “how?”, is not making us any more content. There are no reasons for any of it besides the fact that we are all on a personal journey of spiritual growth in our lives and learning to have a bit more compassion, the innocence of experiencing a fresh moment, humility and gratitude could take us far on the road to peace! So, if you are curious about new perspectives that bring a newfound feeling of simple Joy, come visit Cambodia! Rent a motorbike and go into the country! When you return from an adventure there are beautiful hotels with modern-day luxuries for a fraction of western prices! When you get back to your beautiful hotel room at the end of the day, you will have far deeper gratitude for things like hot running water. Life is all about perspective… How do you frame yours?