Finding the 'X' on The Treasure Map - Where is Happiness?
There has always been a debate on whether Thailand or the Philippines is a better choice for expats. People will hunker down with their opinions and list all the many ways one country is better than the other. You would think it was the Super Bowl, the NBA Finals, or the World Cup. No one has flipped any dumpsters yet, but these discussions get pretty heated.
“Bananas are cheaper in Thailand,” someone yells.
“Yeah, but look at our beach towns and lifestyle. Filipinos really know how to enjoy themselves!” another responds.
I just sit back, eat to my slightly more expensive banana, and stare into space. I have no dog in this fight. Unlike what many people think, it’s not my mission to convince anyone to move anyplace. Like Winning the Lottery is about finding a happier life, and mine just so happened to take place in the Philippines. If it occurred next to an corn field in Columbus, Ohio, I would have written that version of my story.
The truth is that becoming an expat has many variables. Success & Happiness has more to do with your attitude than what particular country you are moving to. In some countries, learning a new language will be difficult (fortunately for me, many Filipinos speak english), reinventing a new life is challenging, but the biggest obstacle is always going to be your own attitude. To assimilate into a new culture often means you have to experience things as they happen. And that means letting go of who you had previously defined yourself to be.
We are all looking for that happy spot in life - the X on the Treasure Map. Since moving to the Philippines, nearly 2 dozen people have followed me. Of the 24, only 1 has decided that it wasn't for them. This line of sight to find one's treasure is never straight, and often means you have to bend in the wind in order to hit the bulls-eye.
People often ask me how I got the courage to leave my old life behind for a new one in the Philippines. A foreign place, a foreign language, and with no guarantee it would work out. But there was this moment when I realized it was riskier not to do it than to take a chance - and go on my treasure hunt. I knew if I didn’t break out of that stifling lifestyle, I would look back at the moment and have profound regret. I saw a beacon of light through a foggy time in my life, and its beam of light gave me hope... so I took the chance and I followed the map.
Because I had the courage, and took a chance to look for my treasure, there is little fog left in my life today. The skies are bright over the island we share in the Philippines, and the sunshine lightens up even the darkest corners. But at night I still see my treasure map. The map calls out for me, reminding me to keep dreaming, to keep being happy, and to keep remembering that life is in constant flux. Ebbing and flowing is always the best way to ride a wave, but you have to paddle out to sea before you can go with the flow.
So if someone chooses to debate me on whether Calatrava has better snorkeling than Pataya, which it does, or if they have more volcanoes to hike, which they don’t, I’ll just rock in my hammock and continue staring up at the powder blue sky. I’m not here to argue, or convince anyone that their ideas are wrong. There is room enough for everyone on this journey to find their treasure, and feel like I’m on treasure island.
If you haven't read about my book on Moving to the Philippines, then look for it in the right margin - 'Like Winning The Lottery - How Moving to the Philippines Made me Happier than a Millionaire'.
Enjoy the Hilarious Adventures of my Move to the Philippines
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