Photo: original photos

Every now and then we need a bit of a slap to jolt us out of a funk. A little pick-me-up that helps recalibrate your thinking and makes you focus on the good things in life.

I am ashamed to admit that amidst all the wonder and privilege that exists in my life, I can still spend quite a bit of time lamenting about how things are too ‘hard’ or ‘inconvenient’ or ‘stressful’.

The option to do this is very much a privilege.

It’s only an option once you fight your way to the stage where you have everything you need – nice home, good job, expendable income, loving family. Only then do we have the time and luxury of being depressed, needing mindfulness training and requiring space to meditate  in order to be able to see what’s good in our lives. Maslow’s ‘hierarchy of needs’ theory truly at work.

Dubai is certainly one place where you can be slapped in the face with the reality of what life is like for a vast majority of the world’s population. If you let people tell their stories, you can find an instant pick-me-up to help you see just how good your life really is.

Let me share a couple of examples so you can see what I’m talking about.

Woe is me…

I’ve had a few challenges at work of late. Standard issues – boss who doesn’t respect me, cost squeeze on, stakeholder engagement issues…. blah blah blah… the list goes on.

So I got in a cab the other day to attend a meeting in our other office. I am sitting there staring out the window feeling quite low after another stressful day, when the cab driver chirps a happy “good afternoon ma’am”.

Somewhat guiltily I look at him, realising I don’t think I even said hello when I got in the car. He’s a happy, smiling Tibetan man with a great pair of sunnies on.

He asks me where I work and I tell him. He’s immediately excited and asks if it’s a good job. Feeling my sad little funk, I start to say that it’s really not all it’s cracked up to be. But when I see his eager face in the rearview mirror, I stop and say a simple “yeah, it’s great”.

What life could be like…

This lovely young man who we will call ‘Lee’, then proceeds to start telling me how lucky I am. He tells me that he is a bit tired and would like to sometimes change jobs but he goes on to tell me a bit about his life:

He works seven day s a week He works twelve hours a day He has a wife and two kids back in Tibet He saw his baby once when she was born but he hasn’t been able to afford to go back since He hasn’t lived in his home country for over six years He can’t imagine when he’ll be able to afford to go back He’s one of the lucky ones as his kids have a nice home, food, water and they can go to school He loves Dubai and everything it has given him.

Bam – there it is. The exact slap in the face that I need to wake me up from this pathetic funk I am in.

The even more pathetic thing is that this is a story I’ve heard many times since we moved to Dubai.

The faces change, the countries of origin change and the jobs vary between cab drivers, security guards, labourers and beauty workers. But the baseline stories remain the same.

The stories keep going…

Read on to meet a few more people and understand their situations if you need some re-calibration. It really does help!

‘Jim’ is from Pakistan:

He also has two kids He hasn’t met his baby son as he was born just after his last visit home He goes home once every two years He works 12 hour shifts as a security guard His total monthly earnings are about the same as we spend on groceries per month He lives in a labour camp and has to rotate beds with another guy he doesn’t know ie when he gets back to camp in the evening after his day shift, that guy has been sleeping during the day – no change of sheets Jim has a masters degree from university He wants a better job but can’t get access to the internet to apply for any He’s still luckier than many of his friends.

One night when I was having my legs waxed at a local salon, I met ‘Constance’. Constance is from the Phillippines:

She works 12 hour shifts in the salon She gets one day off a week All the money she earns is sent home to the Phillippines to support her family, except the basics she needs to live on She lives in a camp and shares a room with seven other girls – the room is about the size of my daughter’s bedroom She gave birth to a little girl just before she moved to Dubai Her grandparents are raising the baby without her She sees her baby by Skyping on her phone She misses her little girl very much.

And finally, meet George. Another cab driver. George has been in Dubai for 15 years:

His kids have grown up in India without him He works 12 hours a day, seven days a week and has done for 10 years He couldn’t get the money together to go home for the past 3 years as he’s had to pay university and school fees for his kids He gets a little tired sometimes He’d really like to retire back in India but he’s not sure that will be possible for quite a few years yet He’s very grateful to Dubai that he’s been able to earn enough money to give his kids a decent start in life

The stories go on and on.

What can we do with these stories?

So here’s the thing.

I know there’s nothing I can do for these people. Sure I can give them a healthy tip for their services and add a little extra to the kitty. I could even offer to help them get another job or give them a lump sum for their kids. I could donate to charity or buy them a meal. The list is endless.

But the one thing I know that I can do that may not necessarily make a difference to their lives, but sure as hell makes a difference to the world in general is wake up to myself.

I can be thankful for every day and every moment with my beautiful family. I can be grateful for the simple fact that I get to kiss my kids every night before bed and I get to cuddle them every morning when they wake.

I can stop whinging and whining about how hard and stressful my job is and just be grateful that I have a job where people respect me, pay me well and let me go home when it’s still light outside.  I can be grateful that I have a job at all. One that pays all our bills, gives us food, clean water, good education and still enough left over to go out and have fun.

And here’s the kicker.

How about being grateful that I had the luxury of deciding to move from a stable, prosperous, beautiful country like Australia, to a place like Dubai, just to ‘experience life’. I was not forced to do it because it was the only way to give my family any chance at survival!

I can make an effort to enjoy every moment of life and realise that I am one of the privileged who has that choice.

So many people don’t!

Have a happy and uplifting week everyone!

Emx