I was reading an article this morning on The science of Happiness: Why complaining is literally killing you by Steven Parton and it made me think about us, the community of expats, half of the population of Luxembourg, that have a simple choice every day: Love or Fear. Do we embrace the challenge of living in a different country and culture and enjoy every new discovery as a gift to our lives, accept every difficult moment as a challenge, and see the cultural differences as a enrichiching gift to our lives or do we complain about the differences and incomprehension, misunderstandings, the difficulty of making yourself understood, not finding our favourite brand of yogurt or not being able to understand the basic news on the newspaper?
I agree that having to settle in a different country and culture can feel like climbing the Everest without having being prepared for it but, as the above-mentioned article explains, achieving a satisfying life style is very much in our minds.
Some people would say that this does not make any sense. Well, I believe it does. Positive thinking people usually have a more positive life. It is a fact. It is not that their lives are easier than others, or that they have less challenges to deal with but simply their view of them is different.
I am not a scientist nor have done research in the subject myself, I only have my own 24 years of expat life experience and my experience as a relocation consultant as a reference. Living in a different country than our own is a real opportunity for broadening our views and beliefs.
Really? How can that be? Well, when you live in the same culture your entire life you seldom question the way you do things and your why you react in a certain way in certain circumstances. Living abroad makes you conscious of your own values, beliefs and behaviors. You are exposed to different ways of doing things, different perceptions of what is right and different views as to what is really important. All this might be confusing and upsetting or enlightening and surprising. It is up to you how you live this experience. After all, it is your choice: you either love or fear.
My suggestion is: LOVE. To increase the chances of love winning the battle, share your fears. You will be surprised to see many others feel the same way. Together it is easier to overcome fear. In addition, have positive people around you and be the positive person for others. Make the effort to see and build the bridges. By the way, do you know why Pont Adolphe is called this way? You will be surprised. Enjoy your day and make your choice. Mine is love!
Brazilian Ambassador for the Just Arrived Ambassador Club