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How I’ve Become A Better Person By Living In Another Country

How I’ve Become A Better Person By Living In Another Country

A little over a year ago, my wife and I sold the bulk of our worldly possessions and moved to a small town in the mountainous South American country of Ecuador. In that time, we have learned an enormous amount about who we are and what it is that’s really important in life. In short, we have become… better.

Who We Were And What We Have Become

As a  married couple from the northeastern United States, last year we were the owners of an unexpectedly headache-inducing laundromat in the city of Providence, Rhode island. We struggled, we spun our wheels, we were stressed and consumed with making ends meet while trying to carve out some periods of actual, purposeful and deliberate living.

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    On something of a whim, we got rid of everything that was tying us down to our geographic area and moved to the predominantly indigenous small city of Otavalo, Ecuador. We now work less than 30 hours a week… total, between the two of us. We earn about triple our monthly expenses, allowing us to put more money into savings than we ever could in the US, where we were working significantly more.

    We live in a place with perpetual spring weather, a view of three different volcanoes, a unique culture, and a variety of outdoor activities. We have copious amounts of free time to pursue our hobbies, pet projects, and unfinished novels. We live slowly. We focus on our health and personal development. We have the perfect home base for further travel. In short, we found wealth while living abroad.

     An Expanded Worldview

    Spending any amount of time living in and among a vastly different culture yields some enlightening benefits. In Ecuador, where the minimum wage is just over $300 a month, we see people lead rich and satisfying lives while dealing with a level of poverty rarely seen in the United States, which has helped us to break free from the habit of equating our happiness to our bank balance.

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      Our small mountain city is mostly inhabited by the Quichua, an indigenous group with their own very distinct culture. We have the opportunity observe their customs and interact with them in a way that has helped us to be more open minded and understanding of other cultures in general. We see, on a near daily basis, these beautiful people treat us kindly and accept us into their community, making us always aware of opportunities to imitate their warm-hearted nature.

      Happy and Healthy

      Being on the equator, we have year-round access to unbelievable fresh produce. In addition to what we have back in the US, Ecuador also grows a number of unique fruits and vegetables that we have enjoyed experimenting with, including tree tomatoes which taste like a cross between a tomato and a citrus fruit and chochos which are a legume commonly soaked in citrus and served cold as a ceviche.

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        Eating a diet of predominantly fresh produce and minimally processed foods has yielded a noticeable improvement in our health and energy level, which is good, because we are extremely active here.

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        My wife and I opted not to purchase a vehicle in Ecuador, so we, like most natives, walk enormous distances to get around. According to our footstep counters, on active days, it is quite easy for us to walk upwards of 8 miles. Keeping our activity level high, especially in our high altitude environment (8,000 feet above sea level) has helped us to stay relatively fit and unbelievably happy.

         

        Overall, traveling and living abroad was one of, if not the best decision that we have ever made as a couple. It has made us more well rounded and happy people while helping to disconnect us from the work to live mind set that is all too common in the more developed nations. Let us know how traveling has made you a better person in the comments.

         

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        Last Updated on September 17, 2018

        7 Signs of an Unhappy Relationship That Makes You Feel Stuck

        7 Signs of an Unhappy Relationship That Makes You Feel Stuck

        Relationships are complicated and when you’re unhappy, it can be difficult to tell what’s causing it and what needs to change.

        Sometimes it’s as easy as opening up to your partner about your problems, while other times it may be necessary to switch partners or roll solo to get your mind straight.

        When you’re in the thick of things, it can be difficult to tell if you’re unhappy in your relationship or just unhappy in general (in which case, a relationship may be just the cure you need).

        Here’re signs of an unhappy relationship that is possibly making you feel stuck:

        1. You’re depressed about your home life.

        No matter what you do in life, you’re going to have good and bad days. Your relationship is no different.

        However, no matter what you’re going through at home, you have to feel comfortable in your own home.

        If you constantly dread going home because your significant other is there, there’s a problem. Maybe it’s something you already know about, everyone has an argument or just needs some alone time.

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        When that yearning to be alone becomes an insatiable obsession over the course of months and years, it’s time to realize you’re not the exception to the rule.

        You’re unhappy in your relationship, and you need to take a look in the mirror and do whatever it takes to make yourself smile.

        2. You aren’t comfortable being yourself.

        Remember all those things you discovered about yourself when you first got together? The way your partner made you feel when you met that made you fall in love with him or her in the first place.

        If they don’t make you feel that way anymore, it’s not the end of the world. If your partner makes you uncomfortable about being you, then her or she is only dragging you down. It’s up to you to decide how to handle that.

        You need to be comfortable with who you are. This means being comfortable in your skin and with the way you walk, talk, look, breath, move, and all the other things that make you uniquely you.

        If the person who supposedly loves you doesn’t make you feel good about yourself, know that you can do better. They’re not even one in a billion.

        3. You can’t stop snooping.

        Mutual trust is necessary in any relationship. The only way to get that trust is with respect.

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        I can find you anywhere online, no matter how private and secure you think you are. The odds of you having a password I can’t crack are slim. If we’ve met in person, I could install a remote key logger on your device without even touching it.

        Finding your information online hardly takes a clandestine organization. Any idiot with a Wi-Fi-enabled device can cyberstalk you. I’m just the only idiot in the village admitting it.

        So now that we know everyone snoops, it’s time to address your personal habits. Governments snoop because they don’t trust us. If you’re snooping on your partner, it’s because you don’t trust them.

        It’s ok to have doubts, and it’s perfectly normal to look into anything that looks weird, but keep in mind that data collection is only half of an investigation.

        If you find yourself constantly snooping and questioning everything, clearly there’s a trust issue and the relationship likely needs to end.

        4. You’re afraid of commitment.

        If you’ve been dating longer than a year and you aren’t engaged, it’s never going to happen.

        Commitment is important. People will come up with a million ways to describe why they can’t be committed.

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        No matter who you are if you like it, you need to put a ring on it. Find an engagement ring, stick a gemstone in it and marry the person. If you’re not legally able to get married or you don’t believe in it for one reason or another, have a child (or adopt one, however you’re able to) or treat your partner’s family like your own. It’s a huge financial and mental commitment.

        If you’re not ready for one or the other after some time, don’t waste anymore of your precious life on the relationship.

        Your relationship should be something that propels you forward. If it’s not going anywhere, make it an open relationship and call it what it is—dating multiple people.

        5. You imagine a happier life without your partner.

        If all you’re doing is imagining a happier life without your partner, it’s a sign that you’re in the wrong relationship. You’re unhappy and you need to get out.

        Your partner should be included in your dreams. There’s nothing wrong with wanting a future with someone.

        Try to remember what you dreamed of before you got your heart broken by the realities of life, love and the pursuit of human success.

        Remember when you would crush on that cute kid in class? You would secretly imagine marrying him or her and going on an adventure—that’s the way life should be.

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        If you’re not at least imagining adventures together, then why are you in that relationship?

        6. You resent, rather than love your partner.

        When a relationship starts to crumble, you begin to resent your partner for all the things you once loved about him or her.

        When you’ve reached this point, your partner has reached at least No. 2 on this list. From your partner’s perspective, your unhappiness with them is picked up as bashing them for being who they are.

        If you’re both unhappy in the relationship, it’s better if it ends as quickly and painlessly as possible.

        7. You chase past feelings.

        It’s okay to reminisce about the past, but if all you do is wish things were like they used to be, it’s a sign you’re not on the right path.

        You’re unhappy and, at the very least, you need to have an open dialogue about it. This isn’t necessarily a sign that the relationship should end, but it definitely needs a spark.

        When you talk to your partner candidly about what it is you’re looking for, you never know how they’ll react. The risk alone is worth it, good or bad.

        Final thoughts

        If you’re feeling stuck in your current relationship, it’s time to reflect about it with your partner. Don’t ignore these signs of an unhappy relationship as they will slowly go worse and harm both you and your partner in long-term.

        Featured photo credit: josh peterson via unsplash.com

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