Lewis Herridge, Contributor
Recently, I returned from Uganda after leading a 2 week trip with a group of teenagers. They were a great bunch and we got a chance to really integrate ourselves into the Ugandan culture, our highlight being a 4 day home-stay in a rural, remote Ugandan Village. At the end of the trip I was so impressed with the group’s comments about Ugandans that I just had to write them down. Here are some of their comments:
“Ugandans are a lot happier with the little things they have; kids show a lot of respect; and the community is a lot stronger than Britain.”
“The Ugandans have very little but are so happy with what they have- the opposite to the people in Britain”
“People in Britain take everything for granted. The Ugandan people are so happy and welcoming even though they have so little. They are truly great people and definitely deserve better”
“More community spirit and a sustainable lifestyle = happier people, but then they know no different. We should be more like this in the UK”
“Intelligent, thoughtful and resourceful people with a strong sense of community”
These above points are quite profound, particularly because of the age of the kids, but they are not an unusual reaction and are common place after every trip I have led. The important points to note here are; the level of happiness, the lack of material possessions, the community spirit and the respect shown by kids in Uganda. All points that they suggest contrast the British culture and I would argue ‘western’ culture.
My group were certainly the opposite to Ugandans. They were used to a life of material goods, most from very wealthy backgrounds and certainly privileged in many ways. They have all been sold the corporate lie that happiness comes from outside of them, through that new smart phone, tablet, TV etc. and they predominately live in the virtual world.
The people of Uganda are different, and have their focus elsewhere. Their lives often a struggle to maintain food on the table and enough clean water. We worked with a charity that told us that 1 in 5 children under the age of 5 die because of consuming dirty water. Very tragic in this day and age and something that we should not be discussing if our world actually cared!
As a result of this challenging but simplistic lifestyle they are not subject to the same corporate brainwashing as us (admittedly they have many other problems, but this is for a different time). Many rural villages often do not even have electricity. They do not have TVs, readily available magazines and newspapers, internet, billboards (only in towns) and few have portable radios with basic mobile phones. These items are the weapons used for mass propaganda in western society, to tell us our news and manipulate our reality, so we all fall in line. Albeit a very clever one.
Because they are not subject to mass propaganda they see things for the way they are and are not shrouded by a forced perception. Our society on the other hand is almost the opposite. In 2010 research suggests that the average teenager spends 7 hours 38 minutes per day in front of a digital screen. That’s, TVs, computers, laptops, mp3s, phones and tablets. That is a lot of time and I would argue that it has increased since then as well. I ask the question, what is this doing to us?
Our subconscious mind is very powerful, often referred to as the sleeping giant as it absorbs and stores everything that we experience in our day to day life. Things we see and hear are stored for later use by our conscious mind. But what are we storing?
John Arden writes in his book, Americas Meltdown that:
“It is estimated that the average child sees 20,000 thirty second commercial a year. By adolescence they will have seen 200,000.”
He goes on to talk about the violence in the entertainment industry;
“By the age of 14, a child can have witnessed 11,000 murders on television. In just three hours of television, a child can see nine car wrecks, nine robberies, eight murders and twenty-six insults. Some movies such as Die Hard 2, have as many as 264 murders.”
Also, the music industry’s mass manipulation through ‘songs’ that often have lyrics promoting drinking, sex, clubs, riches and the material life, working hard and playing hard, doing 9-5s, living for the weekends and a population of thick, stupid, idiots. These are often supported by music videos that are border line soft core pornography and readily available at home, in school, in canteens and clubs/bars. Newspapers and magazines are no better and they all contribute massively to people’s insecurities about how they should look and act.
Violence, sex, drugs, drinking, clubbing, living for the weekend and being dumb are all promoted. We absorb this information into our subconscious and it therefore affects our perceptions, which in turn affects our conscious mind and actions. People find it very difficult to live up to this and as a result, self confidence and self-esteem are damaged, therefore affecting your general happiness. Entertainment media is simply dead time, your mind is consumed but the body is stationary. Think about it, would you just sit and lounge around like you do when watching TV if that TV was not there?
Rural Ugandans are not subject to this and I believe this is a contributing factor to their happiness and resilience in the face of illness, disease, death and generally a challenging lifestyle. They are credit to the power of the human spirit!
While on this expedition, my group did not have their phones, MP3s , tablets or watch TV in this two week period and so at the end I asked them what it was like (for these entertainment driven teenagers) to spend time without them; these are some of their responses:
“It’s been great to experience 2 weeks with no TV. It has made me realise the importance of other things I could be doing opposed to doing nothing and watching TV for hours on end at home.”
“I haven’t missed it at all, the only reason for watching TV at home was if I was bored, but I’ve now learned going/ being outside is way better.”
“It’s been nice to get away and interact with people instead.”
“It’s been much better interacting with people rather than the TV screen. Reality over virtual world.”
“It’s been fun figuring out new ways to stay entertained. Had a lot of laughs along the way and bonded with the group as a result.”
“It has been great to get away from the temptation of sitting at home on the sofa, I enjoyed living in a country where television is such a small part of society and the focus is on community and meeting people.”
Not one of the team said that they missed them and you can see from these comments that they don’t really appear to enjoy it anyway. When asked, what they have since done as a replacement for TV and entertainment media; this was their response:
“I have gained many social skills when being away from the TV, unique skills that cannot be obtained from watching TV alone at home.”
“Actually had conversations with people, got to know them properly.”
“Talked, games (cards etc), sang songs, told jokes, read books and magazines”
“Jokes, pranks, sport and SOCIALISING.”
“I have socialised with many people, played games and got to know everyone very well.”
Now, the important points to note here are that they have not missed their electronic products, even though they take up a lot of their lives at home; and that they have spent more time getting to know people, socialising, playing games, joking, laughing and appreciating their surroundings in its replacement. They have been living in the real world as opposed to the virtual world!
Remember this was two weeks away from it, now imagine a life time of this, like the rural Ugandans experience every day. What would this create?
By getting away from your TV, limiting the use of other electrical goods such as phones and tablets then it allows you to focus on the here and now, you are more present, more alive and you begin to notice things around you. You stop being so tied up in your thinking mind, otherwise known as the ego and you begin to start to feel and see the subtle energies around you. This is the start of the presence that many spiritual teachers talk about.
Another thing I have found useful is to feed the subconscious mind with positive energies. There are many great audio books or hypnosis recordings that feed the mind when sleeping. I greatly attribute this type of subconscious feeding to giving up a 10 year smoking habit and overcoming some deeply engrained attributes and memories that were holding me back.
Start to watch what you feed your subconscious mind. You have a choice to feed it what you want and what you need; it requires action on your behalf and honesty with yourself but I can guarantee you will feel better for it. Try it for yourself and you will see.
About the Author
Lewis Herridge is the founder of Re-Evolving Earth a socially aware organisation that educates people about their natural state; He believes that by using the principles of nature and of our past, we can all live happier, healthier and more contented lives and fast track our spiritual development. Please visit; http://www.re-evolvingearth.com/.
Disclaimer: This article is not intended to provide medical advice, diagnosis or treatment. Views expressed here do not necessarily reflect those of WakingTimes or its staff.
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