My son Jared and his family are back from Kenya, Africa and are traveling for Thanksgiving. In New Orleans they experienced the French delicacy of beignets – served to them with great fanfare.
However, Jared recognized them instantly as the same fried dough with powdered sugar that the very poorest of Africans eat for pure subsistence. He found it quite amusing that the very lowest of food items was being served with a fancy name and a fancy price tag.
Isn’t it interesting how a simple reframing can change our view of what we have.
When my friend Sutton Parks was homeless he wrote about the amazing view through the sunroof in his car at night – while parked at a truck stop. And being able to go to the park and enjoy the beauty without having to pay any mortgage or utilities. He discovered gratitude for simple things he had missed previously.
While growing up my family was so poor we drank milk straight from the cow, had chicken for Sunday dinner that we grew on our farm, gathered wild blackberries from the fence rows, and ate sweet corn that had been picked that morning. Oh wait – I thought those were signs of being poor – and now I see people flock to Whole Foods to pay dearly for the same simple things.
When I went through a disastrous financial crash a few years back we no longer went to Sanibel Island for vacations. Instead we would spend time as a family playing games, typically with lots of neighborhood children included, and our kids remember that as a wonderful time in their growing up years.
What about the car you’re driving, the job you’ve got, the house you live in? Are you struggling in poverty or are you enjoying the life that only a small percentage of people in the world get to enjoy? If you make $34,500 you are in the top one percent of the richest people in the world.
So whether you are eating “beignets” or just “fried dough” may be little more than a matter of perspective.