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A Life Lesson I Learnt From My Time In Egypt, On Gratitude And Perspective

Michelle Dale - Friday, April 08, 2011

I never realised how much in my life I took for granted, and how many things I often complained about over a glass of wine in the local wine bar on my lunch breaks with the girls from work. The fact is, back then, I was completely oblivious to any kind of “real” problems, or “actual” suffering. I then left the comfort of the wine bar life, and spent over 2 years living on the east bank of the river Nile in Luxor, Egypt.

Honestly, I very rarely ever complain about anything these days, even my husband thinks so, mainly because I always remember back to the days of living in Egypt and experiencing what it’s like to really have things to complain and worry about and to actually, see people suffering, it was real, and it scared the hell out of me, not only that, it made me realise how lucky I was then, and still am.

In Luxor you have the east bank and the west bank, dividing them is the river Nile. On the east bank people live relatively well, it’s a town, they have running water, electricity, Internet and 4 star hotels. Venture over to the west bank and you will see something completely different. There are people living in small houses made of mud brick, literally, families living and sleeping together in one room, babies and small children playing with rubbish left by tourists because they don’t have anything else to play with, kids running around playing football in bare feet where there are broken bottles and sharp stones, homes where you have to travel to collect water.

What Do We Really Need?

You know something… The friends I made who were living in these conditions, complained very rarely, they would love it when I turned up with pencils for their kids, they would never allow me to pay for the coca cola that they went to buy as a treat when I visited because I was their guest, and they would always invite me to stay for dinner, knowing that they could barely afford to feed themselves, this was all happening while the folk back home would moan that the mocha latte at the coffee house was taking too long to arrive, or that the shoes they wanted to buy were sold out in their size, their local gym didn’t have a sauna, and they couldn’t get their wide-screen TV because their bonus wasn’t quite enough that month, or they had maxed out their credit card with other luxury purchases. Yes, these were considered problems that were worth complaining about in the city, and at the time, I never gave it a second thought.

The fact is, if we are healthy, we have a roof over our heads, we have running water and electricity, and food to eat, do we really have anything to complain about… Really?

You can take control of your life and your mindset, you can change your circumstances, and make decisions about where you want to be, and plan how to get there, whereas some people on this earth don’t have that luxury, they have to accept their life the way it is, and they do. They are in many cases grateful for what they have, and realise that even in their circumstances, things could always be worse, which makes our lives in the western world rich in comparison.

The next time you feel like having a moan, consider if it’s really worth getting upset over, give the problem a little more perspective, and instead count your blessings.

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Hi I'm Michelle, an entrepreneur specialising in virtual assistance, a digital and real world nomad, and a down-to-earth mother of three.

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