07/15/2014 08:59 am ET

How To Stop Taking Our Lives For Granted

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About 20 years ago, I traveled around India for several weeks. It was a time in my life when I was very unhappy, when I spent a lot of time alone, lacking confidence and worrying about my future. But travelling around India had a revelatory effect on me. I loved the crazy intensity of the country, even though it was sometimes overpowering, as if my senses were being bombarded with too much information. However, I was also shocked by the terrible poverty I encountered. In the city of New Delhi, there were thousands of people sleeping rough on the streets, and many people–including young children–who were so thin that they looked as if they hadn’t eaten for days. There were people with illnesses and conditions like leprosy and rickets, which have largely disappeared from the affluent Western world. Life in the big cities of India seemed brutal and chaotic, a Darwinian struggle for survival.

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