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Up To You!

There are a few popular phrases Thai people say, which have caught on with tourists and expats. Many of them are even printed on T-shirts here. One saying is: “This is Thailand,” which serves as an excuse for any odd behavior, or sometimes shady or unusual business practices. If I call someone to come over to repair my scooter, and they can’t make it because their mother’s water buffalo died, “This is Thailand,” might be an appropriate excuse.

Another is: “Same-same but different,” meaning two things may not be exactly alike, but basically amount to the same thing. If I ordered sausage and eggs for breakfast, more than likely, the sausage would be hot dogs (really). This is a case of “same-same but different.” Comparing a woman to a lady boy, might qualify for “same-same but different.” It depends on how open-minded you are I guess! One of my favorite sayings in Thailand is, “Up to you!” Thais are strong believers in letting people live their own lives, and they are adamant about living theirs as well. Unsolicited advice probably won’t offend anyone, but most likely will have little impact on the receiver.

I’m an advocate of the idea happiness is an internal choice, no matter what the circumstances. If you want to be happy, it’s “up to you!” I’m amazed and often disheartened when people I care about let their current situation control their emotions to the point of depression. I understand there are those who are depressed due to a physiological chemical imbalance, but that’s not what I’m talking about. Clinical depression is a different animal. I’m talking about people who choose to dwell on the negative aspects in their lives, instead of figuring out how to get past them, or concentrating on the good thing. Sometimes it may seem there are no good things in your life, but I believe that is almost never true.

Many people move to Thailand to become happy. Maybe they chose to be unhappy in their previous lives because of a bad relationship, or because they felt they were treated poorly at work. Some just felt their own government was letting them down. So, instead of dealing with the problems, they decided to run away from them. Once these people arrive in Thailand, in the beginning they’re as happy as can be. They’re out playing with elephants, drinking umbrella drinks on the beach, and enjoying the company of the friendly Thai people. Then, when the honeymoon phase is over, or some lady, with whom they are infatuated, turns out to have a Thai boyfriend, everything changes. All of a sudden, all Thai people are bad and want to rip you off. Thai women are only after your money. Everyone here is corrupt and incompetent. This of course isn’t true, but they choose to feel that way. They ran away from their countries, but not themselves.

Everyone goes through difficult times. People sometimes don’t get along, loved ones pass away, and plenty of other bad things happen in life. It’s perfectly normal to feel sad or upset during these times. However, it’s up to you whether to let the pain take control of your life, or to take it as a lesson, add it to your vault of experiences, and get on with your life.

Floating in the ocean for months at a time on a deployed ship, really provides a solid foundation for happiness being up to you. There were some people who spent their time pitying themselves because they missed their families. They would mope, and curse the navy, and try to bring everyone around them into their little den of depression. Others would make the best of their time. Of course, they missed their families too, but they looked forward to their next email, or phone call. They concentrated on doing a great job, to help them advance in their careers to provide more to the family they were missing. Many people used the time to catch up on reading, or start a workout program, or take a class at sea. It was up to them!

There’s really no reason to be a sad sack, a Debbie Downer, or fun vampire. You just have to choose to be happy and take steps to get yourself there.

I know sometimes I sound preachy, and I don’t claim to know much about much, but if I could convince some of the people I care about to choose to be happy, I think it would be a wonderful thing. So, I’d love to hear from you, and I hope you’ll choose to be happy too. It’s up to you!