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Choosing Happiness : Beyond Poverty

Posted by lookpastit@gmail.com on April 20, 2020 at 10:00 PM



Life is different when you’re poor,

no “seconds” or even any “more,”

mending your own hand-me downs,

making your own musical sounds,

using what someone else threw out,

sleeping on the floor without a pout,

rationing potatoes and making bread

-sometimes out of pancake or cake mix,

saving water when you’re cooking with it

-for the next meal, it’s all that’s afforded;

eating ants with your cereal –free protein,

plus, eventually it becomes like routine,

even the going to sleep a little early

to ignore how much you’re still hungry,

dreams become your playground,

nature is your friend all-around

-offering shade on hot days,

and wind which blows many ways;

washing clothes in a bathtub, one at a time

-then, hanging them to dry, out on a line,

one pair of shoes, probably with holes

-layers of duct-tape “saving” the soles;

during the day, lights are forbidden,

A/C is a freezer breeze and light linen

–if you’re lucky.

 

That’s not even stepping into public:

social-standards like hitting a road-block,

somehow a burden or disgust to even see;

as if, by sight, others can be tainted by poverty.

Or worse, as if being poor makes you subhuman,

stupid, and too ignorant to have a valid opinion;

not even given a chance or the time to speak,

–someone would have to do more than leave,

throwing up metaphysical, projected walls,

“not me, I want nothing to do with your pitfalls!”

So, maybe I make more of an effort to look clean,

to seem more wealthy than I am, knowing me;

well, then I’m a fraud who must be taking advantage,

of someone or some system –as if that has any wisdom!?

Don’t you realize those who steal to get more,

aren’t really lacking, and not really poor?

Some of us work for it, have family and friends,

we’re all still people, even when poverty stricken;

with thoughts, emotions, and (maybe forgotten) goals

-inside whatever makes us poor, we all still have souls.

 

-M.E




 

I never thought I was living in poverty until I was told that I was living in poverty.

 

My parents were the first, but certainly not the last, to enlighten me to this status of poorness and I remember being confused and shocked. At the time, I thought poverty meant you were “worse off” than we were.

 

Those in poverty were people we saw on the commercials about raising money for the starving. Poor people were people without a house, and people not knowing when or where their food will come from, and certainly people who weren’t forced to take showers because “swimming in the ocean is not the same as a bath!”

 

I learned that there are always those more poor than yourself, and always those more rich/wealthy than yourself, but I couldn’t seem to understand who decides how well off someone is. What was this line of poverty that I seemed to be on, even though I didn’t feel… poor?

 




Now, as I live in my van with my twin sister, traveling across the United States (post Corporate and Fine Art careers we said “Thanks but no more” to,) I fall again within this economic line of poverty, and I don’t feel poor.

 

I don’t feel poor because I am richer within than I ever have been, and I am happier because I keep choosing it consistantly. It feels better to be happy no matter what is happening, and sometimes that is literally just finding thoughts that give me relief of the negative things I feel.

 

"I choose to feel better, consistantly."

I recognize that, as a people, we always want more and our visions of what “more” is grows as we obtain what we want.

 

Well, I choose to no longer care more about my economic classification than my happiness. I recongize and own that I am the only one living my life, that even my twin does not walk in my shoes, though she walks beside me. Only I am responsible for my experiences as I am the one who controls what I am thinking. I have the choice to change my thoughts at anytime.

 

When I am shunned for my life choices, I humbly bow and say thank you, not because I’m being cheeky but because I am grateful for the experience that shows me what I do not want.



 


I don’t want to live a life of shunning people. I don’t want to live a life of telling other people how to live their lives, though I’ve not walked a day in their shoes. I don’t want to feel so triumphant over my own obsticals, so revelling in my own success, that I forget what it was like to be awaiting that sign of hope to give me the strength to keep on keeping on.

 

I don’t want to live a life where someone’s right to human decency or politeness is gagued by their religion, skin color, gender, sexual orientation, or bank balance.

I do want to live a life of joy, of expressing the nuances of experiences we share in our own perspectives. I want to live a life of agreeing to disagree, but not shying from the conversation because we might not see eye to eye. I want to live in the happiness that is being free of worry, free of judgement, and free of the need to change anyone else to suit myself.

 

I want to appreciate the little things and be humbled by the big things, but never compromising my commitment to enjoying the fact I am alive and living in such wonderous variety!





Poverty might be an economic status we can segregate ourselves by, but I choose to believe in a community of consciousness, of people being people and ultimately all forming our own ideas of happiness, bank account and owned assests aside (or included as the case may be.)

 

We all need food and water, we all want shelter and a comfortable surface to sleep on, and ever increasing needs for our chosen quality of life.

 

IF we all spend less time wondering what others are thinking, telling ourselves what others are probably thinking, or taking to heart what others are thinking, and spend more time finding those thoughts of our own which gives us ever happier feelings, well, we’d probably outgrow the economic situations that put us in the classifications of poverty. (Or, better yet, get rid of the profit society altogether and make the poverty question moot.)

 

For now though, to me, poverty is a perspective and I have outgrown it.





I am not living a material life, I am living a spiritual one, and these material things are just props in my spiritual experience.

 

I choose to enjoy every bit of them, no matter their form, price tag, or segway into my life, but I am also no longer dependant on any of them to make myself happy. I realized, looking back, that the perspective of poverty that others labeled me with was just that, a label that others gave me.

 

It wasn’t until I claimed that label, lived it, and worried about it, became depressed by it and angry that it was even… it, that poverty had a hold on me.

 

Those worries, that depression, and the anger varieties never actually got me anywhere. I pressed on, I worked harder, I “kissed more ass” (as they say) to get ahead, to be known and favored by those in power, and I succeeding in raising my economic status. Even finacially stable, punching that clock, and cashing those paychecks, getting those raises and making ever more and more and more money…I was still, always, perpetually, desperately chasing happiness that had little to do with how much money I was making, and the price-quality of stuff I owned.

 

Somewhere along the way I had come to think my economic status was tied to my happiness and in this, I started to create my own poverty. I felt poor because I always wanted more and it always seemed illusive.

 

So, how did I overcome this perspective of poverty?

 

I chose to; I changed my mind.





One day, after the unexpected death of my Grandpa Wally in the fall of 2018 (which is a story unto itself I may tell later) I had a moment of clarity. Not only did I not want to love money more than people, but I also made a choice to figure out how to love people more than money, even whilst knowing I live in a profit society where money is required to live.

I looked within myself, assessed my own thoughts and behavors, and yes, compared them with those I know, both family and friends. Ultimately, I realized that it was never the stuff or the money that made me happy anyway, it was how I thought and felt about it.

 

Let me reiterate that:

 

It was never the specific stuff, or the amount of money I had that made me happy, at any point in time, it was actually how I was thinking about whatever that made me feel happy! My thoughts about the stuff and money were controlling my feelings, not the actual substances of stuff or money in my life; my thoughts!

We’re taught to want a higher socio-economical status because we’ve been indoctrinated to believe it will make us happier. Everywhere we look, listen, and learn -whether it is directly or indirectly- we’re being shown the freedoms and joys of wealth over poverty.

 

We think being richer will make us happier because we think of all the things we could buy, and of the relieving lack-of-worrying about the bills that need to be paid. These are not invalid or unlogical truths, but they are misleading because, as a people, we always want more. If our happiness is tied to getting more, we miss the oppertunity to be happy in the journey of getting it, which is the majority of our time and experiences…or worse, to make ourselves so miserable in the not-having that we never get it…




 


I can tell you how freeing it is to teach yourself to choose happiness, the same way we learned to chase happiness (via repition and consistency), but you will only ever actually know what I mean when you do it for yourself.

When thinking, being depressed or angry, even frustrated or upset, ask yourself… is this how you want to experience your life?

 

If the answer is yes (and sometimes it is a “yes” in that moment), than carry on! If the answer is no, (and sometimes it is a “no” in that moment), than ask yourself…how can I think about this that will make me feel better? See if you do not feel better just asking yourself that question, just opening your mind and emotions to another possibility aside from the icky feeling you’re feeling. Follow that and keep asking yourself, and thinking the thoughts which make you feel better, and they’ll take you right to happiness regardless of your situation.

 

This is the power of our thoughts, and the guidance of our emotions.

 

How will you choose to experience your life from now on?

 

Food for thought.

Cheers,

 

M.E.

 

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“Perspective is as perspective does.” – R.A.


 

Categories: True Stories, Personal Peace = World Peace