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Would you risk your life to give strangers food?

Here are some brave people. Shan young en and women going to school to become teachers in some of the poorest villages you can imagine. Photo by Jon Ivar Solberg

Here are some brave people. Shan young en and women going to school to become teachers in some of the poorest villages you can imagine. Photo by Jon Ivar Solberg

“I am brave, but I am chicken sH_t,” sings Alanis Morissette. That is exactly how I feel. I am brave as long as I know that I will probably be safe in the end. I can do things that others call brave, but the real truth is that I can hardly take an ice-cold “bucket shower” without cringing. It is unlikely that I would ever throw myself in front of a tank in order to save lives. In theory I would, but I doubt that I would actually ever dare to.

The exception to my chicken poop-attitude would probably be if something were happening to my kids. Then I would likely turn into a vicious and rabid tiger with saliva dripping between my killer teeth. Would the same tiger attitude come to life if the lives of people I don’t know and whose language I don’t speak were in danger? I would love to say yes, but I have to admit that I just don’t know.

There is a man in Norway who the media and my country folks refer to as a hero. He is a hero because at the age of 40 he still wins Olympic medals. He is a hero because he goes to bed early and rises with the sun in order to get the maximum impact from his workout routine. He never drinks alcohol and at times he does all his hand shaking with gloves on so he won’t get any weird bacteria attacking his athletic body and giving him a common cold or worse. He is a hero in our country.

I think he is a good athlete, but a hero? Not even close.

Yesterday I heard of a hero. Actually two. Two men whom I know are both risking their lives in order to get food to the starving Rohingyas in Rakhine state, Burma. You may think that giving food to starving people is not an act that involves the risk of somebody’s life. Difficult? Yes. Uncomfortable? Yes. Dirty? Yes. Frustrating? Yes. But dangerous? Why would it be dangerous?

Because the people these two men are trying to help are wanted dead by the government in Burma. I am not making this up. I know that this is not 1942 and the ruler of Nazi Germany is not waging a war against anybody who does not look like his image of a perfect human being. I know we are in 2014 and we don’t normally starve people to death any more. And if somebody tries to, the world usually reacts with outrage and loud cries.

But not so with the Rohingya. When the government kicked out all foreign aid organizations a few weeks ago it left the 140 000 Rohingya internally displaced people completely desolate. “The parents can only sit and watch their children starve to death,” said one of our friends who is also a refugee. It is a little strange to me that the world cares more about the trial of Oscar Pistorious than about this fact.

Anyhow. My point is that there are two men out there somewhere—and I don’t even know exactly where—risking their safety and freedom in order to get food to some thousands who we know are starving. They are doing this to people whose names they don’t know, whose language they don’t speak, whose religion they don’t share, but whose future they care about.

I am in awe. And I am glad that not all the world is full of chicken-poops, but of people who dare to act on their convictions. May many of us dare to do the same, even though it may cost us our reputation, our comfort and even our lives.

Is the world a good or a bad place? What do you think?

What a crazy three weeks it has been! What amazing people I have met! What many different places I have been sleeping. What strange food I have been eating. What many tears I have been crying. What many laughs I have been having.

I am sitting in a tiny hotel room in Malaysia now. There is water rationing in the city, so we get water two days and no water for two days. Today is a no-water day. Luckily the hotel and us had the foresight to fill some big bucket of water so we can wash and flush the toilet.

Did you know that in Malaysia they have train cars for ladies only! Cool. Steve really wanted to go inside.

Did you know that in Malaysia they have train cars for ladies only! Cool. Steve really wanted to go inside.

It is a wake-up call to all of us who are here together studying about climate change and its severe effects on the planet, and consequently, on us as well. It should be no surprise that in the years to come water will become scarce some places, and there will be too much of it other places.

The three weeks that have passed have been full of impressions. I have met more people than I can count.

My camera and I became friends on this trip. You will see some of the photos shoonish.

My camera and I became friends on this trip. You will see some of the photos shoonish.

 

I have sat with Buddhist monks and listened to their ideas and stories on how to improve their villages. I have watched 40 kids crammed together into a primitive structure that they call school, diligently writing in the only notebook they own.

Cute little school girl in Shan state

Cute little school girl in Shan state

I have sat in cars with local leaders who have risked taking us to areas that are not totally safe. I have been to a clinic that only had a small shelf of medicines and two nurses who both work there for free. I have listened our staff sharing about how they do their work with such excellence. I have gotten to know people who are small in size, but gigantic heroes nevertheless, here in Malaysia.

My head is full of impressions. My heart is full of gratitude for all the wonderful people that I have gotten to share my life with. What a strange world we live in. When I look in one direction I feel so encouraged about the state of mankind. Our world is carried on the shoulders of the small heroes in the villages and the cities that we rarely get to hear about. Then I look in the opposite direction, and all I see is death, hate, lies and unspeakable violence. How can it happen in the same world as the world where monks build schools for small children, and executives give up their wealth to help the poor get food?

While I am sitting here in my waterless hotel room, our staff is diligently working on finding funds and ways to help our dear friends, the Rohingya. Again (or should I say still) the world seems to turn their back to them. Desolate, alone, rejected and lied about hundreds of thousands of them are facing tomorrow without anything to eat, with no medicine for their children and no hope of ever getting to live a life in dignity.

And at the same time, while I am sitting here, thinking about this, there are people around the planet who live with the poor in slums, give blood, start urban gardens, take in street children, feed stray dogs, bake for their sick neighbor, use their wedding to get money for the poor, visit the lonely, give their allowances to refugees, become foster parents, stop shopping for a year, advocate for justice in the corridors of power, help prostitutes find jobs, give small business loans to diligent women, start seed banks for rural farmers, buy Fair Trade, try to save the polar bears, eat vegetarian, sleep with lepers, treat the sick, and so many more things that I haven’t even heard of.

It is a wonderful and a terrible world we live in.

 

 

 

 

 

The things you think at an international airport.

Airports feel like such places of lost time. We are all in transit here, walking around with our carry-ons, wondering if we ought to buy something at Duty Free. We look at the screens displaying departure times, gates and other messages. We bump into people we never will see again. We breathe old air that has been recycled a thousand times. Some people take the opportunity to drink beer for breakfast. Others buy the gossip magazines they don’t want to be seen reading other places.

Comfortable, but not pretty

Comfortable, but not pretty

I am on my way to Burma and I put on funny shoes when I left snowy Norway. The shoes are OK for warm climate, but while I am still in Scandinavia I had to wear socks with them. And to make matters worse, I chose thick purple socks. They are very visible below my black pants, and I would never have chosen such nerd-dom had I not been traveling with people I don’t know, and, like I said, most likely will never see again.

It may be a stretch, but an airport is a miniature world. And the people wandering here are a picture of how life is for too many of us. Walking aimlessly. Pushing our stuff around. Avoiding talking to the people that may be sitting so close to us that we are actually touching each other. Watching things that give no meaning, but that makes time pass. Waiting for something to happen, but not really sure what it is. Eating crap.

The privilege of having Gold status with an airline is not mine. I want it badly, but I think the tickets I buy are too cheap to qualify for bonus points. Or something. But today I paid 20 dollars and was allowed access to a lounge together with many business men all dressed in white shirts. They are walking about with their iPhones and headphones talking loudly to the person in the phone. They are saying things like: “But I told you already what the deadline for the deal is, and it hasn’t changed.” “My associate said that when we signed the contract it was agreed that we will assume this responsibility.” “I attended a workshop with the CEO and he had some brilliant insights into the current affairs.” They say all this so loudly while they are holding their phones with one hand and a glass of Scotch with another. What do I know? Is there actually a person at the other end of the line, or are they just pretending to be important? Could it be that they actually don’t have any friends, no job and not even a Gold card on an airline? Could it be that they too just paid a little bit of money go come in here so that they can get the feeling of importance and of status?

Me, I spent the time finishing a magazine and drinking some wine while watching airplanes come and go.

Me, I spent the time finishing a magazine and drinking some wine while watching airplanes come and go.

Did they post a photo on their Twitter account? (You do know, don’t you that this generation of VIPs are not that keen on Facebook, and Instagram is for their kids. It is Twitter that counts now.) Did they post a photo of the wine glass and the incandescent lights in the background and title the photo: “On my way to a meeting in Brussels?” It is impossible for me to guess. I will never know.

I do know this though: I have been sitting here for three hours now. I have also had  a glass of red wine and some soup that tasted gross. I have been incredibly productive with my time at the airport. I have worked and I have crossed things off my to-do-list. My socks keep my feet warm and the time in transit has helped me get ahead of the work I knew I needed to do. I have on purpose not talked on the phone, and I have not tried to look important. But, it is very possible that some people have watched me sitting here for this whole time and wondered what my problem is. They may have thought that I am on the computer for this long just so that I can look like I have a job. They may look at my socks and wonder how I ended up at an airport lounge since my style is so out-of-date. But it is more likely that nobody has even taken any notice of me. I am just a person occupying a chair.

It is strange how small an airport makes you feel.

 

 

 

You may have heard of the 5.2 diet. But have you heard of the 2.5?

This baby. I don't know if he lives any more. He was so malnourished and weak. A little formula from me wasn't going to be enough for him to grow up. This was a Rohingya baby who was denied food from the Burma government.

This baby. I don’t know if he lives any more. He was so malnourished and weak. A little formula from me wasn’t going to be enough for him to grow up. This was a Rohingya baby who was denied food from the Burma government.

Cynical people are not my favorites. I get the feeling they are just sitting around thinking the worst of all of us. And even when we try to be good, they are sure we have ulterior motives. But then, there are days when my own cynicism creep up to the surface. Then I just think it is natural and useful. 

Right now I have one of those days of extreme cynicism. It has to do with diets. 

The new craze

There is a new craze that many of you may have heard of, and even tried. What do I know. It may help you lose a few pounds. But to me, the talk of this diet, and what it promotes, has again reminded me of the sick world we live in. 

The 5.2 diet is great. It is great because for five days a week you can keep eating as much as you want. Then for two days you eat very little. In other words, you can keep up your unhealthy life style for five days a week and starve yourself for two. You  can indulge in meat and caviar, in wine and truffles as much as you want. And on the two fasting days you can dream about what you are going to eat next week. 

What is wrong with our world?

We live in a world that is beautiful. It is inhabited by people who are miraculous. ( I say this hesitantly, because right away a list comes to mind with names such as Mugabe, Putin, Thein Sein, and Kim Jong-un) At the same time we are so messed up!

What is wrong with a world where more than 1,4 billion people are overweight? What is wrong with a world where people make millions from trying to help people lose weight? What is wrong when in the same world, children die every second from lack of food?

The 2.5 diet

This is when I want to say: I met some mothers some months ago. They came up to me carrying their infants while their toddlers tugged on their skirts. With their fingers they showed me how many days it had been since they last ate. Some of them showed me five fingers. It is not unrealistic to say that for those women in the refugee camp in Rakhine state, their diet consist of eating for two days and fasting for five. They live the 2.5 diet. This is not so that they would lose weight. This is because there is no food to eat.

This is what I want to say to all of us who have a hard time eating just the right amount when so much is offered. This is a word to all of us who find it hard to resist temptations. This is to all of us who have a few too many pounds:

Two simple tricks 

Eat less. Exercise more. There are no shortcuts. When you want that bowl of ice-cream you know you shouldn’t eat, put the money it would cost in a jar and send it to Partners. When you are tempted to take a second helping with gravy on top, think about the mothers who haven’t eaten for days. When you feel you deserve a bag of chips with your Friday beer, then drink some tea and give the beer money to the poor (I know, this one hurts).

This may sound like I am guilt tripping you. And you know what, I am.

Wasted food

Just in little Norway with our five million people we throw away a staggering 377,000 tons of food every year. Reports from the US and the UK suggest that as much as half of all the food that gets produced gets thrown away. 

This at the same time as 21,000 die every day from starvation or other diseases related to lack of food.  

Add that to all the overweight related diseases people suffer from, and even die from, and you will have to agree: Something is seriously wrong. 

 

 

 

What do you think are the three essentials in life?

Boy, do I remember my days as a radical activist of 18. Life was so easy. It was mostly black and white. You were either good or bad. It was easy to categorize the world into neat compartments. The poor and the rich, the conservative and the liberal, the healthy and the unhealthy, the smart and the stupid. I would always, and I mean always, sympathize with the poor. And I considered myself liberal, healthy (I ate whole wheat and raw foods), and smart. I also thought that all smart people would agree with me.

Life was easy when the solutions were simple

Life was easy when the solutions were simple

Now I see that life is not that simple. Some people are smart who don’t agree with me. Some poor people are jerks. Many rich people are incredibly kind. People can eat healthy and still get cancer. Others can live on Coke and chips and stay skinny. Life is not straight forward, black and white. Life is not fair. And life is not predictable.

Now, as a middle aged woman I have learned that most people care mostly about themselves and the sphere they live in. I read in the new today that the members of the International Olympic committee are going to change the rule that says they can only stay in the committee until they are 80. They think that is too young to resign. They feel discriminated.

I read the news and try to understand the conflict in Ukraine and the more I read, the less I do understand. Just trying to keep the names of the actors straight is a challenge. Never mind who is for the engagement with the West and who is for the East. And who is the less corrupt of the ones who are struggling for power.

I see that the president in Uganda says that gay people are disgusting. So he signed a bill that will allow the police to arrest and imprison gay people because they are gay.

What a messed up world!

I read that the world has stopped caring for the people in Syria. The world is a bit bored with the whole situation. Been there, done that. Tell me something new instead. Not the same old story about children getting killed, of a generation lost, of millions without blankets in the cold. That is so…Yesterday.

Today my friend and colleague in Fortify Rights, Matthew Smith published a report with undeniable proof of the Burma government’s systematic and planned discrimination, oppression and harassment of the Rohingya population. And after the release the government of Myanmar came right back and said: “The government does not remark on baseless accusations from Bengali lobbyist groups.” What else could they say except to admit that what the report said is correct?

I am working on a degree in development. Not that I have the time, but I do have the desire. We are studying the effects of climate change this semester. If you want to get really, really depressed, then study that.

The paper I have to read this week challenges my brain cells, and has forced me to drink more coffee than I should. But it is challenging in a good way. It is written by Archbishop Rowan Williams, and he says good stuff. One of his points in this paper is that the real problem with climate change, as well as other social issues is that we have lost a sense of what life is. We are disconnected and need to be reintroduced to life. He goes on to say that saving the human future is inseparable from  securing a future for all living things. Later he talks about how we need to understand that we all live in a shared world, not a world that belongs to ourselves. 

I felt encouraged in a weird way as I read this. To save our planet from climate destruction, from moral and ethical destruction, we need to be reintroduced to life. We need to start connecting with the things that really matter. And if I build that down to the essentials, I think I am left with just three things: God, relationships and nature. Botox, exotic travels, decadent meals, leather boots and designer purses don’t make it on the list of essentials. We lived in a shared world. That is what it is all about.

 

 

Does Jesus care about missions? Really?

I am going to convince some 40 youth that missions is cool. Before that I am also going to convince my family to do the house cleaning for me. I am not sure which challenge is bigger. It is possible that I will wake up tomorrow feeling like both my undertakings failed.

In preparing to talk to the youth I have asked myself what I think about mission myself. I was once a missionary, you know. So I better know what it is and why it is important. The first important thing to realize is that the Bible actually doesn’t say anything about mission or missionary.

missions

The second thing to understand is that the meaning of mission or missionary is not to go to another country and tell the people there that they will go to hell unless they change their religion, their culture, their diet and their friends. There are many definitions of the word mission in the dictionary, the one closest to what I think we think about when we think mission is: the vocation or calling of a religious organization, esp. a Christian one, to go out into the world and spread its faith. Makes sense, right?

But what does it mean to spread our faith, and why does it even matter?

This is what I am going to have to explain to the teens. And to myself.

I often feel ashamed of being a Christian. Not because of what the Bible tells me to believe and do. I am ashamed of being associated with so many knuckle heads. Sorry to say it, but I am.

missions 4

I am ashamed of being associated with the TV evangelists who, in my mind, are just one step above absolute clowns. I am ashamed of being associated with the conservative and judgmental Christians who have nothing better to do than to point fingers at everybody but themselves. I am ashamed of being associated with the people who are not able to love the gays, the homeless, the single mothers and the anarchists, the socialists, the rock stars, the ones with the tattoos and the ones who smoke pot. I don’t want to be one of those people. And I don’t want one of them to be empowered and justified in going around the world sharing their faith either. Because that kind of faith is not the faith I have received. It is not a faith I have found in the Bible.

So when I talk about missions, I need to be able to articulate what that means. To me personally, but also what I believe the Bible wants us to think about missions.

I was reading a special kind of Bible as I was preparing for the lesson I am going to teach. It is a Bible called the Poverty and Justice Bible.Fear not, the words are the same. The difference is that every verse that mentions poverty or justice in the Bible is highlighted. And you know how many verses that is? More than 2000.

mission 5

It is clear to me that the mission of Christians is not to go out and condemn people for their tastes in clothes, music or even love life. Our mission is to care for the poor and the oppressed. Just to figure out if 2000 verses mentioning poverty and justice was a lot, I compared it to some other words that you might think are important in the Christian faith. Sin for example. It was mentioned 400 times. Approximately. And prayer. Just about the same.

So, yes, when we are talking about missions, we need to talk about Jesus and who he is. But it seems to me that equally important is the fact that Jesus cares about the weakest, the poorest, the most unlovely, the most unwanted, the most oppressed, the ugliest, the smelliest, the hungriest, the coldest, the dirtiest. And if he cares, so should we. Why does he care, and why should we care? Because he knows that behind each of our masks is a jewel. And it is that jewel he cares about. And it is the uniqueness of each person we are called to see and love. And it is that each person is loved for who they are that is our mission.

This is what I am going to try to make 40 teens understand. This is what I need to understand too.

Burma Army soldiers burned down their village yesterday, killed four with 12 more missing, and took 700 women and children away to an unknown “prison.”

oddnygumaer:

Today Steve heard this story from our friend. I feel it is worth sharing. I can’t stop thinking of the little girl. Feel free to share this story too.

Originally posted on Normal Is Over.:

Partners Relief & Developmenthas a team member in Bangladesh right now who is meeting victims of the recent violence against Rohingya people in West Burma. Today he met Aisha,a survivor from yet another destroyed village. This posting describes how his village was attacked and burned down, and how members of his village were lost, killed or taken away, including his two year old daughter.

Aisha heard the military vehicles and then saw large army trucks full of soldiers and extremists who were armed with guns and clubs. They drove into Killadong Majarpara, his village in West Burma and home to 2,500 other Rohingya Muslims.  It was 11:00 pm on the 22nd of January. Knowing the multiple and brutal attacks so far, he quickly found his way out of the village to look for a safe place to hide.

Rohingya widow and children This woman’s husband drowned in a pond while trying to escape…

View original 593 more words

5 things to help children not get arrested

I have been thinking about happiness. I guess one of the reasons I have had this in mind is that I want to be happy. And when I find the ever so small seed of discontent in my heart, it is time to ask why. The answers I find, I gladly share.

But then I find myself embarrassed by my small world. I am even more embarrassed by the fact that I can be discontent when I have every privilege one can ever wish for.

In my last blog I wrote that it sometimes is helping others that will give us the greatest happiness. I truly believe that!

The last few days I have been getting some disturbing reports from Burma. They have not just been disturbing. They have been appalling. We have heard of more attacks on the Rohingya people that I have written about in the past. Now we hear of children and women getting hacked to death for no reason, and of the police arresting all men and boys aged ten and older. You can read a detailed account of the atrocities here. My good friend and hero, Matt Smith in Fortify Rights, wrote it. He spent a long time verifying the facts. And if you know Matt, you know that when he says something, it is true.

This is me with Matt and his wife Amy. Matt is a lot better at human rights reporting than he is with technical stuff such as iPhones.

This is me with Matt and his wife Amy. Matt is a lot better at human rights reporting than he is with technical stuff such as iPhones.

It makes me sick.

But this is the thing: Feeling terrible about terrible stuff isn’t going to help anybody. We have to do something. So I thought of five things we could do to help these people right now. And here is where you come it. I need help from EVERYBODY!

1. Read the report Matt wrote and post it all over the place, on Facebook, on Twitter, on Instagram, on your blog, on Tumblr and Flickr and on all the other social medias you can imagine. I can’t keep track of them all. The more people that hear about this, the less likely it is that it will happen again. The government of Burma may not care about Rohingya children getting killed, but they do care about their reputation and about the big companies in the world wanting to invest in their country so that they can be richer than they are now. And companies are less likely to invest in countries that massacre their own citizens. It is just how it is.

Boys aged ten and older can get arrested.

Boys aged ten and older can get arrested.

2. Give money! I know it sounds old, but the fact is that unless we have the money, we cannot help these people. Last year we gave food to thousands of Rohingya who were starving. We treated the sick. We gave blankets and tarps. We documented and reported what was happening. It was all possible because people gave  us money, and it will not be possible unless we do get money. So GIVE! Here

3. Contact your government. Ask politicians if they seriously don’t think that this is awful behavior and if they think so, what are they going to do about your county’s involvement with Burma. Are they still going to wine and dine the president, Thein Sein? Or are they going to say that unless he and his government starts to treat the Rohingya as human beings, then your country won’t have anything to do with them. You know that it is the little people like you and I who count. If there are many enough of us, something is going to happen. But that means we all need to take responsibility and don’t just hope somebody else will do it.

4. Pray. I do struggle with prayer sometimes. I don’t know if it works. I don’t understand how it works. But I think we need to put the theological questions aside and just do what the Bible tells us to do: Pray. Pray for an end to the violence. Pray that you will get God’s heart for the Rohingya. Pray for all the children who have lost their parents, their homes and everything they know. Get a heart for the children!

Arrange a Run for Relief. It is fun and good!

Arrange a Run for Relief. It is fun and good!

5. Arrange an event! What is more fun than when many people get together and do something meaningful? Imagine arranging a relief run for the Rohingya, or a yard sale? Or how about doing a dinner, or invite a bunch of ladies to do a ladies’ night and have them all donate to the cause. You could do a concert, or a theater performance on the street if you are brave. There are so many great ideas to do, and the only limit is your own creativity. Imagine that all that fun actually could help save the lives of people who felt forgotten or resented. To help you out, here is a great link for ideas that will get you so excited!

So there you go. Five great ideas for things to do to help the Rohingya today or in the next few days. And when it comes to happiness: I think the best medicine to get happy is not to smoke pot, but to focus our eyes away from ourselves and on to others.

More steps to pursuing genuine happiness

I am in the pursuit of happiness. Most of the world seems to be on the same path as me. But we seem to be looking for happiness in different places. Some of us think that a meal to fill our hungry stomachs will make us happy. Others think that a new private jet will.

It was nice that so many read my last blog about happiness. A few of you kindly added a couple of points that I had left out. The one that I want to apologize for not mentioning was: Tickle attack. When one has been tickled, or tickle others, then the happiness one feels in one’s body remains in our bodies for a long time afterwards. Like a drug. Want to be happy? Tickle and be tickled.

Then I wanted to add two more points to my list of things that I think will make us happy. And, no, a private jet did not make my list.

Connection to God is important. So is connection to others. Here you see Partners staff feeling very connected through dancing.

Connection to God is important. So is connection to others. Here you see Partners staff feeling very connected through dancing.

1. To be connected.

I like Psalm 1 i the Bible where it says that by delighting in the Law of the Lord one is like a tree planted by streams of water, which yields its fruit in season and whose leaf does not wither—whatever they do prospers. Personally my connection is with God, and if I don’t have him, then I am like a tree with no roots, or like an electric cord with no outlet to plug into. To be connected to something that is higher than myself gives me more meaning and happiness than anything else I can think of. Why?

Because it makes me realize that while I am significant, I am also like dust. The world does not rest on my shoulders alone. I am just a piece of the big whole. In God I can find meaning when the world seems meaningless, in him I can find comfort when I feel hurt and discouraged, and in him I can find hope when it looks like the black hole is ever increasing.

To me it seems impossible to experience true happiness unless we are connected to something bigger than ourselves. Some people may disagree, and I am fine with that. But, honestly, you should give God a try.

One of the things I really admire is when people spend their time and own money to help others. Like my friend, Hanne, and her sons who on their own initiative sold sponsorships and collected money for Partners. I hope they felt happy afterwards.

One of the things I really admire is when people spend their time and own money to help others. Like my friend, Hanne, and her sons who on their own initiative sold sponsorships and collected money for Partners. I hope they felt happy afterwards.

2. Help somebody

The happiest people I know are the ones who are the most generous people. Not just generous with their money, but with their resources and time too. And the most unhappy ones? The greedy ones who are always looking at how to rip some people off, thinking of how they can avoid sharing, and even how to cheat on their taxes. A person who is always thinking of him or herself will never be truly happy. But the ones who are always reaching out to others will experience a satisfaction as fulfilling as getting tickled. We get tickled by generosity.

It’s interesting to me that often the most generous people are the ones who own the least. And yet, they often seem content even though they are poor.

Today I read that the richest 85 people on the globe between them control as much wealth as the poorest half of the global population put together. This is a thought that has nauseated me most of the day. Can it be? 3.5 billion people own as much combined as those 85 people. What I wonder is this: Are the 85 people who all could fit into a double-decker bus happy? Do they wake up in the mornings content? I wonder if giving most of their wealth away would have made them more or less happy? What do you think?

At Partners we have made helping others into a career. Many of us are constantly out of money and lack of sleep. But are we happy? I think we probably are happier than many. Not because of our wealth of money, but because of the wealth of joy helping other people gives us.

Here is an article I read today about helping an other person. I thought it was very encouraging.

Want to be happier? Try God. Try fellowship. Try to help somebody who needs your help, here or elsewhere. I think this will make you happier than unlimited credit at Nordstroms.

5 things that guaranteed will make you happy

Nobody can guarantee happiness. Not me. Not the richest, sexiest man in the world. Actually, happiness has a lot more to do with our attitude towards our circumstances, than with the actual circumstances.

So, sorry. If you wanted to read this blog to get happy, I may disappoint you. But, do give it a try. You may be surprised at what you will find.

I really wanted people to read my blog, you see, and I figured out that guaranteeing happiness had a bigger chance of succeeding than having a headline that says: Life really sucks, and if you read this, you may just feel much worse about yourself. 

So, what are 5 things that can make you happy?

I will tell you.

I bought this coffee cup at a thrift store. It reminds me of my Grandma. Makes me happy.

I bought this coffee cup at a thrift store. It reminds me of my Grandma. Makes me happy.

5. Grind some good coffee beans and make a good cup of coffee to drink in the afternoon while you are working by your computer, reading a book or perhaps listening to some music. You will be even happier if you also have some chocolate to eat with your newly brewed coffee. And, another idea is to share a cup of coffee with a friend. Can’t go wrong with these three ingredients: Fresh coffee, chocolate and friend (a spouse will also do).

I made this bread some days ago. It is full of goodness such as sesame seeds, flax seeds, quinua flakes and more. Now, if you also have some Norwegian brown cheese you will for sure feel happiness go through your blood.

I made this bread some days ago. It is full of goodness such as sesame seeds, flax seeds, quinua flakes and more. Now, if you also have some Norwegian brown cheese you will for sure feel happiness go through your blood.

4. Bake bread. You will be surprised at how easy it is to bake bread. While doing so, you will be able to reflect, use your upper body muscles and your imagination. A lot more can be put into a bread dough that you thought. For example seeds, nuts, a mix of different grains, old cereal, milk that has expired, spices such as anise and fennel. And when you bake the bread in the oven you and everybody in your house will be happy because it smells so wonderful. And did I mention the health benefits, and the savings? They are in the thousands.

I pay my kids to read. It is true. I want them to appreciate the joy of reading so much that I am willing to pay them to get them away from the TV and the internet. Sometimes they will read instead of doing chores. Fine with me.

I pay my kids to read. It is true. I want them to appreciate the joy of reading so much that I am willing to pay them to get them away from the TV and the internet. Sometimes they will read instead of doing chores. Fine with me.

3. Read a great novel. Fiction is underrated. People should read a lot more than they do. Whenever I read good fiction I feel like I live in two different worlds and this can be very helpful if my real world is full of worries, rainy weather and dirty dishes. Just to get you started, I thought I could mention that I just read a great couple of books that you may like too:

I Been in Sorrow’s Kitchen and Licked Out All the Pots by Susan Straight is one. Another one that kept me awake when I should have been sleeping was: Orphan Train by Christina Baker Kline. A good read. And when you are done, you will be a lot happier. Even though parts of the books will make you cry.

Having people over for dinner! What fun!

Having people over for dinner! What fun!

2. Meet somebody. Invite somebody over for soup. I know the dishes are a hustle, and so is getting the house ready for guests. But, you tell me, isn’t it worth it in order to have some fellowship with interesting and energy-giving friends. And another benefit will be that since you now invited them for soup, chances are that they will invite you next. Then you get to do all the fellowshipping, but not the stress of being the hostess. Or, invite guests and have them bring their own food. Anything will work if the goal is to be together.

Go for walks. Do I need to say more?

Go for walks. Do I need to say more? Here we have Elise and Kristin some years ago. Our kids have had to walk a lot in their childhood. I think that is why they are such fine young ladies today.

1. Go for a walk. This is the number one happiness-booster. Don’t let the weather decide if you should go for a walk. Dress up or dress down. Take your body outside and get into something that resembles nature. For some people, like people living in Bangkok, that may be hard. But, there are parks. Walk, breathe, think, walk, breathe, think. It is that easy. Now, if walking is too slow, then run. Or if there is snow, cross-country ski. Or if you like more speed, ride your bike. Whatever your preference is, I have the solution. The main two things to remember are: Move body and Outside.

So, there you have it. Five things to make you happy that will not even cost you anything. Try one or all, and see if I am not right.

Next time you hear from me, I may have thought of other things that will make you smile inside your heart, and when your heart smiles, your face does too.

Good luck.

BTW. What makes you happy?

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