Saturday, 17 November 2018

We could be happy with fewer ‘things’

THANKFUL and happy or cynical and ungrateful?

I have just returned from taking a team out to Malawi in south-east Africa for a two-week trip. 

My overwhelming impression of this nation is the way its people seem so contented with life and thankful for every little bit of help offered. 

Malawi is the poorest country in Africa and arguably the poorest in the world, yet its people live their lives with such a bright, happy attitude and almost 100 per cent of the people who go to Malawi say the same. 

The people of Malawi have little or no personal possessions, no great job prospects and only a little education, yet are thankful for what they have.

Our culture, by comparison, has a tendency to be more critical, cynical and ungrateful although we have many more possessions and luxuries.

I often come back from Malawi convinced that “things” do not have the power to make you happy. In fact, having less seems to bring more genuine contentment.

One of my abiding memories will be helping with a kids’ club on a Saturday morning with more than 100 children around a colourful parachute, playing a version of cat and mouse. 

The screams of delight were many times louder than what we might find here.   We could easily bring better and better equipment to improve life in Malawi but it wouldn’t necessarily make them happier. 

Their singing and dancing is just amazing, for the pure joy of it, not as a performance.  

Around 80 per cent of people go to church and in Malawi everyone dances. 

Community is high on the list for them. They love doing things together.  If there is a wedding, everyone turns up dressed for the occasion.  They may not have the latest on-trend clothes but the combinations of colours are delightful.

We go to Malawi to help them but I wonder if we have something to learn from them too.  Rather than working every hour of our lives we could slow down a little, learn to celebrate together a bit more, make singing and dancing a bigger part of life and foster community a little more.

Maybe we could live a bit more as God intended and end up more contented, happier and thankful for what we do have, and maybe with fewer “things” around us.

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