Mai Pen Lai is the Thai expression for, “don’t worry about it.” Mai Pen Lai (my-pen-lie) literally translates as “no mind”, and is similar to saying never mind, or don’t think about it. For us, going to Thailand is an opportunity to let go of too much thinking, to let go of expectation, and instead embrace the moment. During this trip to Thailand a couple weeks ago, we allowed ourselves to suspend judgement, grow our practice of present-moment focus, and smile with 12 other brave individuals (those 12 joined us on our Thailand Immersion Retreat).
Thailand is nicknamed the “land of smiles” and they have about as many words for smile as the Inuit have for snow. There’s the “I admire you smile”, the “I disagree with you smile”, the “sad smile”, the “i’m trying to smile but can’t”, and several more. According to the World Database of Happiness, Thailand has been recognized as one of the most happy places in the world. (No wonder we love it there so much:) It’s easy to feel happy, safe, and relaxed in a place where everyone is putting you at ease with a smile. But what happens when you return home…back to “the real world”?
I recently read there are three ways to make yourself happy. 1. You can increase the amount of good feelings you are experiencing. 2. You can decrease the amount of bad feelings occurring. 3. Or, you can do what we did and what the Thais do, which is to change the subject. We deliberately choose to “Mai Pen Lai” or not think about the stuff that doesn’t make us happy.
Perhaps this is our best option, no matter where you are and no matter how you experience “the real world”. When we change the subject, we stop paying attention to what we don’t want and start to pay attention to what we do want. Sure it may seem like we are avoiding it, or copping out but, but it sure as heck feels better than wallowing in it or analyzing it all to death. Practice a little “no mind” this holiday season and see if it can help maintain your smile and feelings of overall happiness. “Mai pen lai” the crowded stores, the discourteous drivers, the totally unpleasant or intolerant family member:)
Maybe we can a learn a thing or two from one of the happiest places on Earth. Opening your heart and allowing your mind a respite may evoke greater ease and flow, and ignites your inner, radiant smile for all those you touch!
“We create our own Happiness, and the first step in creating anything is to Imagine it”
– Eric Weiner