When I was fourteen I visited Taiwan with my family. I felt it was like an alien world compared to home in California. Everything was completely unfamiliar. There were barely any cars, there were houses and buildings that were stacked very closely together, and there were so many people that it was hard to walk down a sidewalk without grazing a stranger’s shoulder.
While traveling around the small Asian island we frequently stopped at small rural towns. Their conservative and simple ways were completely evident. In one of the towns we had stopped at a small rundown restaurant. We sat outside on a plastic dinning set underneath a dimly lit, bug-infested lantern. The food seemed like they found the ingredients in their backyard. They served rice with sides of stir fried Cicada bugs and ants in eggrolls. It seemed they could make anything into edible food. I didn’t eat anything, which made my stomach convulse in pain.
Those three weeks of my life were hell. It was utterly unbearable. I never felt so uncomfortable and dirty before. I was used to toilets where one didn’t have to squat and aim for a hole in the ground and clean water where it was ready to be used in a faucet. In a way I felt really sad that they had to live like this. I felt like my vacation there showed me how unfortunate their life style is.
Home was bliss. My first meal back home was amazing. I had a delicious juicy Burger King Whopper, and every single French fry that touched my tongue was golden. The feeling was indescribable. I ate the hamburger as if I had not eaten for days. I desperately wanted a second of that mouthwatering delicacy but unfortunately my hungrier brother ate the extras.
I never missed my room so much before and the toilet paper even brought me happiness. Everything seemed so grand compared to that ordeal.
That night while lying in the most comfortable bed ever, I processed my Taiwan experience in my head. I thought about how simple life was there compared to home and how much harder they have to work. That’s when it hit me; by “it” I’m referring to gratitude. I was one hundred percent grateful for what I had; everything from the clothes, the filtered water, the shelves in my room, to the light switch by my functional door.
Now I look at everything grateful whether it is bad, good, horrible, or pleasant. Having this appreciation for things has made me become more positive and less likely to complain. I believe that gratitude changed my attitude.
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