How natural living boosts your happiness and vitality

By Martin Thoolen,
Published at 8 January 2022.
Read 5 minutes.

Have you ever spent 5 days without access to a telephone and the Internet?

I hadn’t, until this week.

My God, it can be unbelievably boring at times. Boring?
Simply because I am used to something different in the Netherlands 

But it is simultaneously silently, unbelievably impressive and enlightening. 

Imagine if we all ‘worked and lived more naturally’ a little more?’ What then? And how?

My wife is an ‘Indigenous Native’ of the spiritual Karen People 'The Karen People'who have inhabited the border region between Myanmar and Thailand for centuries. They believe that all objects have a soul, which is reminiscent of what I saw when I visited the ‘First Nations' in Canada, BA and other indigenous peoples around the world. One of their most important expressions is: ‘Give me liberty or give me death’. ’ She often tells me: ‘I come from poor people; we live easy.’

‘I come from poor people, we live easy’

After heading North from Kanchanaburi (the location of the famous bridge over the river Kwai) with the car, a ferry and a longboat for 4 hours I find myself deep in the jungle, on her native soil. Up to that time I had interacted with a great many indigenous peoples during my extensive travels, but had never actually lived amongst them for a while, even if it was

The fact that I cannot access the Internet means that I have no distractions. And my lack of fluency in either the Karen or Thai language obliges me to absorb everything in silence.

Just being…which allows a host of ‘felt insights’ to come flooding in.

Merciless mirrors of reflection

Nature as a supermarket

There is not a single supermarket in the entire village and local region. Nature is the cheapest supermarket, and chemical-free. They live off the nature that surrounds them, cultivating and eating: rice, maize, mangos, papaya, vegetables, chili peppers, tamarind, ginger, cardamom, mushrooms, garlic, limes, cucumber, eggplants and bamboo shoots. When something is needed, my wife just picks it from the tree and that’s it. This ‘haute cuisine’ suffices.

And they don’t sell any ‘super-soft’ five-ply toilet paperzachtheid’ packaged in plastic there either. No, you just wipe your backside with flowing water.

Just imagine sustaining yourself with natural foods and buying less plastic packaging. Try it for a while. Feel the positive effect on your vitality and the realisation that you are contributing to a cleaner world, even if only in a small way.

Nature’s alarm clock

The Karen People don’t have alarm clocks. They live and work with the rhythms of nature. Waking at dawn to work on the land, and going to bed earlier, when it gets dark. This promotes great vitality to an extremely old age.

Try it for a week and see what it does to you. 

Interacting with each other ‘live’

As I have absolutely no telephone or Internet connection for 5 days I am obliged to seek contact with the people around me without the assistance of social media. Even though I don’t speak the language, ‘Live’ face-to-face contact is so energetic and so real 

Visit each other more often, even if it takes hours of travel. Leave your smartphone at home. Be yourself during your interaction with others and occasionally share your innermost feelings. See how much more fulfilling real connection can be for you.

‘Living live with each other, makes you alive’

Sharing food and drink

They don’t serve food on separate plates. Food and drink are served amongst and with other families. They just walk into each other’s little wooden houses on poles, dwelling to eat with other people, occasionally bringing food. The meal is eaten from collective dishes placed on the ground in the middle of the circle of diners.

We sometimes replicate this at Christmas or Easter, and it immediately gives us a feeling of togetherness and communal happiness while we eat and share stories. So connecting. Try it more often throughout the year with your family, friends, neighbours or colleagues, even if it is not what you normally do, and see what happens. You will go home with a warmer heart.

Caring for each other and your elders

The 'The Karen People' don’t have Old Age Homes.My wife was shocked to the core when she saw a block of flats used to house senior citizens in the Netherlands. She said: ‘How do you dare to lock your parents up like that!’ And if you stop to think, it is actually a closed house of death where loneliness thrives and the aged die faster. After all, an old tree that is not moved stays healthy for longer.

"An old tree that is not moved stays healthy for longer"

In the Netherlands we don’t have time to visit our father or mother regularly. Why? We are too involved with our personal material, needs or development. However, in the village they care for their elders until they die.

Visit your parents more often and stay longer than you are used to. Just being there for them will enrich you. Remember that they are the ones who gave you this life, just like your ancestors. Honour them, and you will never regret it.

And don’t understand me wrong, you might not find it easy. Here too, egos can obstruct and create unnecessary tension. We are very similar in this way. Like when a neighbour plays deafening music at three in the morning, ruining other people’s sleep. Don’t think that you can tell him to turn it down. The reaction might involve a gun being pointed at you.

So, it is not a paradise, but we can learn to live with a natural connection that we in the West have often lost. It will boost your vitality and happiness.

And that is what I wish for each and every one of you. Try acting on my suggestions more often and feel what it does to you, your friends, neighbours and colleagues.

You will be surprised.

#naturalliving #coaching #personaleadership #personalempowerment 

© 2022: Martin Thoolen

Martin Thoolen

My 30 years of professional experience as an awareness coach, clinical and organisational psychologist has enabled me to help thousands of clients in Personal or Collective Leadership. Both groups and individuals, in coaching sessions, training courses, leadership development and organisation development programs, retreats and seminars.
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