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Most people thought I was crazy: a girl from Los Angeles wanting to move to the middle of a village in Bangladesh, one of the poorest countries on Earth. But, it turned out to be the most inspirational, motivating, experience of my life.
From the very moment I arrived at the Dhaka Airport in Bangladesh, I decided I was going to squeeze everything out of this experience, and let it shape me forever. There, I saw thousands of impoverished, hungry people just standing, watching the new people come in and out of the airport, wondering what it would be like to escape.
I've lived here for eight months now, and I am a better person because of it. I’ve changed my life in three major ways, and they've made me a happier, healthier, more positive person.
1. I'd been carrying around way too much stuff.
After three years of living in China, I had to cram my possessions into two suitcases. I was shocked by the amount of stuff I had accumulated. Getting rid of all this stuff, most of which I didn’t even use, was incredibly freeing. I felt lighter, as if I could go anywhere in the world without all of these things weighing me down and trapping me in an old lifestyle. I felt ready to embrace a new beginning, and face new challenges.
Since I’ve lived in this beautiful village, I’ve tried to internalize this idea of simplicity as well. Generally, my mind is racing and I have so many different thoughts. If I were still in LA I’d probably be on Adderall by now, but through yoga and meditation I’m working slowly to de-clutter my mind.
I’m a worrier, and I always have been, but the simple attitude toward life here has helped me to live in the present. I try to focus my mind on what I’m doing at this very moment, not on what I should be doing in two years, or when I’ll be living in the house of my dreams, or what I’ll wear this weekend. I find this REALLY helps my anxiety levels, and instead of worrying, I try to be productive in this moment and focus on the positive. There are so many distractions these days, between Facebook, Twitter, Emails and real life, an anxious mind will always have something to worry about. It’s essential that we take some time for ourselves and completely unplug from the rest of the world.
2. I dove headfirst into a new healthy lifestyle.
I made a commitment before I arrived in Bangladesh to get healthy. By getting healthy I don’t just mean I wanted to lose weight.
I decided I would make my health my first priority, and I dove headfirst into a new healthy lifestyle. I would no longer make excuses
as to why I had no time to eat healthy or workout.
I started eating a simple vegetarian, plant-based diet like the majority of Bangladeshi people. I began to love to cook, and not just because I love to eat, but because I loved learning about new ingredients and what they do for the body. I learned to cook delicious, healthy food that was full of flavor and spices that were purifying my body.
My detox involved eating only whole foods, nothing packaged or processed. I also stopped drinking alcohol for six months, and if you know me, you know that being a party girl defined my college years. Instead of drinking to get my buzz on, I started drinking cleansing tonics and fresh juices to reduce acidity and make my body more alkaline. That was it, nothing too fancy. I have lost a significant amount of weight, but most importantly, I feel good, my skin is shining and I’m healthy.
3. I've tapped into a new kind of happiness.
Coming from a place where people measure wealth based on the number of cars in the driveway, I began to look at life in a
completely different way. I traveled to one village that had no electricity, the temperature was over 100 degrees with 85% humidity, but these people were smiling and laughing and had a certain inner happiness that was contagious. The snobby girl in me wondered how these people could be so happy with absolutely nothing, not even electricity.
Spending more and more time with these people, it became clear that they had tapped into a completely different kind of happiness. It's not one that comes from things or money; it is created deep within the soul. Through yoga, meditation and a very positive attitude, I have been able to change the way I look at the world. I look for the good, the beautiful, the inspiring, and it has changed my life. As Wayne Dyer said, “When you change the way you look at things, the things you look at change.”