The Secret to Success, Fulfillment, and Happiness…
“One’s destination is never a place, but a new way of seeing things.”
Wish I could claim that as my own deep musing. Alas, that’s Henry Miller, the great playwright. The quote popped up on my video screen on a flight from the U.S. to Europe earlier this week.
And it had me thinking about life outside the U.S. and why I pursued with such passion this expat existence I live…
Seems an interesting moment to contemplate this topic.
Employers are beginning to push for employees to return to their zoo-like corporate cubicles two years after the pandemic sent everyone home. And employees who’ve had a taste of real work/life balance are rightly rebuffing those efforts and, often, considering a move abroad.
And then there’s inflation’s erosion of our wealth in the Western world, leading a growing cohort of people to seek a more wallet-friendly life overseas.
Stepping up for the assist are a number of countries now advertising easy-to-obtain digital nomad visas. Italy just announced one. So did Cyprus, Greece, and Croatia. Costa Rica joined the fold in recent months as well.
So what we have is motivation for moving abroad that’s hooking up with an economic-development initiative that has become quite popular around the world.
I’ve written this many times before, but I really wish I’d taken this leap into expat life so much earlier in life. But that I did it at 52 is an inspirational story in its own right, I guess. It’s proof that you don’t have to be a young Turk bopping around the world. Nor do you need to be a retiree, no longer chasing an income.
You can be a remote worker, well into your career, who, like me, says “I’m done with the life I know. I’m ready for a real adventure.” And you can find success, fulfillment, and happiness.
My adventure had been simmering for decades. Much as I love America, the place began to change for me in the wake of 9/11. I was in Manhattan that day. My train into the World Trade Center was 10 minutes late. Any other day I’d have been in the basement of the North Tower exiting right about the time of the attack.
I saw up close how America shifted. How government used the attack to revoke personal freedoms. How quality of life degraded.
Over the next decade, I was traveling broadly: All over Southeast Asia and widely across Europe. I was in and out of Latin America regularly. And what I saw in many places was the freedom America lost. I saw the vibrancy on the streets of Singapore and Jakarta and Montevideo and elsewhere that once defined America. I saw middle classes rising up while America’s was hollowing out.
And please don’t take any of that as a knock against Uncle Sam. I mean, it is what it is, and all the statistics chart exactly what I was seeing and experiencing in my travels.
As Henry Miller rightly noted, it was a new way of seeing things.
With every new border crossing, something inside pushed me with increasing urgency to chase a different life…this expat life I now live and love.
Every day feels more vibrant because every day is a chance for something new as I continue to learn the curves of my adopted hometown, Prague.
You do see things differently when you live overseas.
You come to realize all these ridiculous, small-minded hatreds of different cultures and races and religions is the dumbest human trait on the planet. You see the world for the melting pot that it is.
You see that Ghanaians and Chileans and Cambodians and Czechs are all living the exact same lives as people in Peoria or Pittsburgh. Little league sports, grocery shopping, jobs, family, a holiday here and there. There is literally no fundamental difference between people anywhere.
That’s what I wanted to find as an expat: A totally different way of seeing things.
And I found it.
But you know what?
That totally different way of seeing things really means seeing that we’ve been looking at the world wrong for all these years.