Sometimes we don’t focus on our quality of life enough.
It’s one of those things we dismiss, like a phone call we intentionally ignore. Or we may even say, one day. But by the time that one day comes, we’ve exhausted ourselves, and it never happens.
But let me ask you, what does quality of life mean to you?
I started thinking more and more about this as I explored this nomadic lifestyle. When I first lived in Thailand, I thought the pace was too slow, and the systems were over-the-top disorganized.
I left and moved to Japan. Well, while there I thought the system was too rigid. So, I had to sit and contemplate what does quality of life mean for me?
What matters the most when I wake up in the morning? Or what kinds of neighborhoods do I see myself living in? What does access to health care and fresh foods look like? I thought, how do I want to feel before I go to sleep at night?
Money became the very last commodity on my list. I reflected on the benefits of a slow-paced culture versus a fast-paced lifestyle. I questioned what the consistent warmth and sunlight did for my soul. So, I didn’t shackle myself to an unhappy situation––I left. Despite making a lower salary, I left Japan.
When I posted this question: what does quality of life mean to you on my personal Facebook page and in some Facebook groups, I received close to 100 comments. Some of the answers differed slightly, but the overall responses remained the same.
Here’s What Several Expats Had To Say
1. You’ll think more clearly.
When you’re living in the States, sometimes you don’t know if you’re coming or going. The typical rat race that wears on you the way thread wears on a tire.
Like, you forget to eat, and you forget to take care of yourself because you say there aren’t enough hours in a day. Then you forget to remain connected to what matters to your core, so you find yourself living out of alignment.
Plus life events will disrupt things. Shake your world up to remind you to be more mindful of your body, your spirit, and your thoughts. But you’ll ignore those reminders and return to the hamster wheel, resulting in mindless, zombie-like behaviors.
You’re pretty much tuned out.
But when you’re living abroad in places like Southeast Asia or Latin America, the pace is tremendously slower. Which means you’ll have more time to think, feel, and reflect because you’ll have more time to be with yourself.
We don’t do enough of this in the States.
And, when you’re able to think clearly, you’ll be able to uncover what life truly means to you. You’ll reconnect with your purpose. But first, you need to create the space to do that and living abroad provides that.
2. Self-care becomes more affordable.
In Thailand, you can purchase 3-hour massages for $40. When you live abroad in major airport hubs like Chiang Mai or Bangkok traveling to neighboring countries is ridiculously easy (and affordable). Do you need a weekend to get away? Then hop on a roundtrip flight to Bali for $89.
As I scrolled through Facebook, looking for personal development events to attend in Chiang Mai, I saw an empowerment workshop in Chiang Mai that cost $8. There were free or discounted yoga classes and various “conscious communities” that you can connect with.
For under $200 per month (or less), you can afford to care for yourself on a regular basis. Self-care means different things for people but just know in a place like Southeast Asia it’s feasible to find the healing you’re looking for. When I visited Bali, I met with four Balinese healers and received spiritual guidance.
3. You will live a healthier lifestyle.
There are people losing weight and becoming healthier without trying. My co-host Nubia lost 12 pounds, and she didn’t exercise. But her diet changed.
Her diet consisted of superfruits, she ate smaller portions, drank fresh juices and smoothies. Don’t get me wrong she still continued to eat freely but just making those minimal changes in her diet resulted in unintentional weight loss.
In many parts of the world, the produce is incredibly affordable. Be ready to indulge in fresh organic juices, fresh fruits, and vegetables. I decided to leave Japan because I wanted access to more affordable produce and healthy foods. And Thailand provided that for me.
4. You just might become a minimalist.
Yes, you with your hundreds of shoes in your closet, that DVD collection sprawled against your living room wall collecting dust, and the clothes still hanging in the closet with the tags on it. When I moved abroad, I had tons of shit. I sold everything and liberated myself.
In having so many conversations with people, they shared how getting rid of their items helped them to see what mattered to them the most.
You’ll see how much you were hiding behind your stuff which allows you to face painful emotions. Which also, then leads you to finally seeing how much you really don’t need to be happy. One woman lamented about her 3-story townhome and all of the unnecessary purchases she made over the years.
It’s a cliche because we hear it often, but less is definitely more.
5. You’ll bask in the sunshine.
We’re sun deprived. And if you suffer from seasonal affective disorder (SAD) or any other mood related conditions then having 24-hour access to sunlight is the dose of medicine you’ve needed all along.
But most don’t realize it. And you won’t until you deliberately place yourself in environments that reinforce this.
I can’t tell you how much better I feel because I’m surrounded by all of this sunshine in Thailand. Having suffered from depression and anxiety the combination of sun and fresh foods has positively altered my mood.
So, try it for 30 days. Try living in a country that’s warm all year round, or live by the beach or by the mountains and allow the vitamin-D (and nature) to uplift your spirits.
6. You’ll become incredibly patient.
This is necessary! Especially for those of you who struggle with patience. But imagine arriving in a new country, and there is no sense of urgency and businesses open when they want to (for the most part), or they vacation without notice, and no one is in a hurry.
How will you react?
If you’ve lived in major cities like NYC, Boston or DC, then you know what it feels like to rush by people with your head down because you’re too focused on arriving at your destination. You can’t connect with others this way.
In Thailand and Japan, it’s not uncommon to sit for hours eating and chatting with friends. Many people in Thailand don’t cook at home because going out to eat is a form of socialization. They reconnect with friends and family.
Several countries don’t operate on this idea of a “microwaved life.” They just don’t. Which means you have two options––either adapt and allow yourself to experience these teachable moments or become frustrated and leave before the growth can happen.
With increased patience in your toolbelt, it’ll help you to withstand many challenges in your life because things will pass and you won’t be bothered as much. One woman said, “Now things just roll off my shoulders, and I move on.”
What would life look like for you if you’re able to do that on a regular basis?
7. You’ll be more flexible.
Since things won’t always go right when you’re living abroad, it’ll create the resiliency you’ll need to manage many of life’s hurdles. And for some of you in the States, you’ve created a controlled environment in which you avoid challenges.
There’s no such thing because if you’re not regularly being challenged and if your comfort zone is not periodically stretched, then I’m sorry to say you’re not developing vital skills to sustain a meaningful life.
In life, so many of us are living stagnated and stale existences. Are you fed up yet?
One more thing, when you’re living abroad, you live with uncertainty. Have a conversation with an expat and ask them what’s happening next in their life. The most common response is I don’t know, or they have a quarterly lens––they may know in three months what’s happening but beyond that not so much.
Of course, things will still happen that will attempt to throw you off course, but you’re flexible with most things you’re faced with. You become less judgemental and open to people and situations that are vastly different from you.
In What Ways Can You Improve Your Quality Of Life Today
Now that you know how your quality of life can skyrocket abroad, what’s next? You don’t have to move to a place as far as Southeast Asia, maybe your quality of life abroad means moving from the East Coast to the West Coast, or from the States to Mexico, either way, isn’t it time?
Isn’t it time you feel more aligned, less stressed and more in control of your life? Find people who are doing exactly what you want to do, join some Facebook groups and make it happen.
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