Saturday, 19 January 2013

Fellow Bulgarians: Complain Less, Travel More!

Money not only runs the world, it also runs the people. 

I don’t normally address a whole nation, but today I am. It's just one of those days.
As you can see in the blog title up there, I am Bulgarian, and up to my 20th birthday, I lived in Bulgaria. I’m not the biggest patriot, but I do have fond memories and am always happy to go back… on a holiday. Bulgaria is a very beautiful, picturesque touristy place. 

But it’s also a place where the average person is not quite content with their life. I recently came across a social study where they asked people of different nations how happy they were on a scale of 1 to 10. Bulgarians scored next to last.
This is concerning on many levels. And because I’ve lived there my whole life, I can see what factors play in those results. First of all, Bulgarians have the “greener grass” mentality. Somehow, our neighbours always “seem” to have it better than us, even though they think the same about their own neighbours. Second, while the cost of living is always sky-rocketing (with no discounts in sight), the average wage plummets to the ground. The average Bulgarian can only afford so much these days.
Sadly, this results in a very low birth rate. Last year, there were only a few thousand babies born. In a population of 7 million, that’s not much. Parents choose to have one child because that’s all they can afford to support. In the meantime, gypsies reproduce like rabbits. Excuse me if I sound racist!
Also, there are too many Universities in Bulgaria, and not enough jobs. This is why young talents go study abroad: because our diplomas hardly work beyond our boundaries, and because financial stability is the norm in western cultures. This is why I went to study in England, graduated, and can now look for work in the UK, with my blue card. Even though I’m just traveling right now, I know I have that option.
Which takes us to my biggest point. Travel. There is a mentality around the whole world, and it’s even worse in Bulgaria. That there is not enough money for travel. The minority of the world population makes travel priority number one, while the rest of the world goes for corporate jobs and financial security instead, in the hopes of making enough money to buy some happiness. It's even more prominent in Bulgaria, as the lack of money has turned into our biggest concern. But consumerism runs the whole world, and it’s shit. If your heart really desires stuff instead of spiritual growth, stop reading right now.
You heard me, consumerism sucks. I’m just as guilty as anyone of buying clothes and phones and gadgets, just to feel connected and accepted in every society I come about. If that's "normal", then I don't want to be normal! I'm probably going to go to a less consumer-driven society next, and I urge you to do the same. Maybe it'll bring you some perspective. Maybe you'll see people who REALLY struggle.
But the point is, travel seems even more difficult for Bulgarians because there is hardly enough money for us to live on, let alone travel and explore the world. And so the average Bulgarian complains about prices and money and politics and stuff, while the happy-go-lucky average American, for instance, works hard to afford trips to exotic locations, if their heart so desires. I think if more Bulgarians stopped whining and started doing, we’d be happier in the long run, as a nation. What we need is a mental shift.
You know the experiment with the 100 monkeys? Maybe we need 10% of the population to change their minds a little, start counting their blessings, and get out of this “stuck mentality”. And you know what, once you get unstuck, you never go back into that tiny box. Because nobody ever gets born in a box! In fact, we were born to learn, and grow, and change. Not complain and do nothing to make things better. There is this crazy, dangerous belief that we are not in control of our finances, that we are not in control of our prospects, or our future. But that is not true. We are in control of our lives, completely.

What we do, where we go, and what we choose, shape who we are and what we achieve. Always.
And we were all born to be happy. If you’re not, that’s your own fault. It’s not society’s fault, it’s not the country’s fault, not the politicians’ fault, etc. If you want to be happy, work hard to get there! Just like I did. I had the same mentality you have. But when I went abroad and saw how people were realizing their dreams, and I saw nothing was really impossible when one lived with passion, I was reborn. 

And I’ve been living and thinking like this ever since. I think that you can do it, too.
Today, instead of complaining about not having enough money, I save what I have for my next trip. I have no house, no savings account, and I was financially dependent on my parents until recently. But when life kicked me on the butt, I started brainstorming. And I came up with a new way of life. Instead of looking for a job in a small cubicle, reporting to someone else, I am only dependent on myself.
I find ways to travel. I may have less money than most, but I work and spend it wisely. 
Consumerism is really dangerous if you fall in its trap. Truth is, you don’t need that fancy dress if you won’t be able to enjoy wearing it. You can’t appreciate your pocket full of money if you are spending it on things that don’t fill your heart with love. You need only know yourself and your hearts’ desires, and figure out ways to make them happen, to be happy. If there’s a will, there’s a way. And that’s a fact.
Now I leave you with a song to live by. You can also listen to my feel-good playlist on YouTube.

P.S. If you liked what you read, spread the word and leave a comment. Also, keep an eye on this site, as I will provide lots of links and resources for you to be able to do what I did: travel the world on next to no money, and learning the lessons it has to offer. And it offers so much! Thank you for reading.