This I Believe

Laura - Sandy, Utah
Entered on December 19, 2007
Age Group: 18 - 30
Themes: gratitude

I have never been one to wear thick eye shadow or bright pink lipstick. I’ve learned that a good cake can be ruined with too much frosting and a potential boyfriend can be crossed off the list by coming on too strong. My key ring has never been weighed down by key chains and I’ve never made spaghetti with more than one clove of garlic. I believe that less is more.

My philosophy of this was deepened while living in the South Pacific for 4 months. The native Tongan family I stayed with had nothing. Their lifestyle included manual labor and hard work. Theirs was a fight for survival. They fed off of their small patch of crops and the wild chickens and pigs that ran rampant through their yard. They slept on the hard ground and wore the same misfit clothes over and over again. Despite their humble circumstances, these were the happiest people I have ever encountered. The sparkle in their eyes and the smiles across their faces were incomparable. I wondered how these people with nothing could be so purely content.

It wasn’t long before I found my answer. One humid afternoon I walked to the tidal flats with several native women and their daughters. We rolled up our pant legs and waded into the shallow water in search of edible sea life. What we found was far from the seafood delicacies I was hoping for. We ended up with pails full of small, unrecognizable creatures. Many of these clam-like creatures were cracked open and eagerly offered to me as samples. I struggled to choke down the extremely salty and rubbery insides. My stomach churned. Could these people actually live off of these gooey innards? One elderly woman, Fina, noticed my wide eyes and gaping mouth and scooted to my side. In her broken English she whispered, “This be dinner, but I still happy. I have no shoes or truck, but I still happy. I love Tonga. I love God. I love family. I always be happy.”

I stood, motionless, as the tide gently nudged my legs. I contemplated on the truth of her statement. She really had all that mattered. Her life was void of the modern luxuries and distractions of our busy lives; all she had were the essentials, but her happiness required nothing more.

In a world that shouts, ‘Go, go, go!’ and needs ‘More, more more!”, I struggle to slow down. I’m no longer in Tonga and my circumstances don’t force me to live by this philosophy; it is now a conscious decision to be happier with less. I believe in choosing carefully and not trying to choose everything before me. Perhaps this mindset sounds restrictive, as it limits me from buffet style living. However, I have dished up the essentials and am content with focusing just on what truly matters. Because for me, less is more.