For years I’ve lived as a digital nomad. People often ask me why? Why I choose this country over another? Is my happiness subject to such an ‘unusual’ ambulatory lifestyle? Sometimes the inquirer even produces the packaged response before I’ve had a chance to collect my thoughts.
It is easy to construct similar misconceptions. Too often a person dreams of such travel, of life in lavishing environments, of freedom of financial burden.
My situation doesn’t follow that classic narrative. The itch for movement has not been the driving motive. I don’t strictly care if I perpetually travel or continuously occupy one place. My travels merely became a systematic course of action to eliminate the chain of elements that otherwise imposed an unsatisfactory lifestyle.
For many years I continuously lived in the US. I used to think that that in itself contributed to unhappiness. However, as often happens, once we begin to explore the causality relationship, the factors of unhappiness comprise a handful of core, independent components. What factors did I identify?
- Corporate employment and the pursuit of missions I didn’t enjoy. That atmosphere doesn’t align with me.
- Too much waste and consumption. Granted, everywhere this exists, but not to such degree. If doubtful and you prefer numbers, seek the electricity usage per household data, although I appeal strictly to personal experience.
- Urban infrastructure incompatible with pedestrian or public transport in most cities. Choosing a desirable city to live, combined with other crucial parameters I omit here, had become an increasingly complex undertaking.
I could proceed with a series of other motives, but I’ve sensed the above as highly prevalent, considering their daily pervasiveness. Furthermore, the high cost of living and extremely bureaucratic healthcare system made it especially challenging to avoid #1.
Rather than create complex mitigating strategies, I merely eliminated the sources of unhappiness. I started living abroad, in economically viable locations compatible with my cultural and language preferences, and facilitating in the factors I’ve presented.
Contrary to what I may have previously believed, presiding in what one would consider exotic locations in itself does not inspire happiness. The factor disproportionally responsible had always been the elimination of unhealthy decisions and circumstances. Once eliminated, I can feel happy almost anywhere.
For instance, I’ve plenty expressed my adoration for life in Brazil, and consequently spend much time here. The country presents warm and vibrant individuals, fantastic nutritional options (hence very easy to avoid malnutrition), suitable infrastructure in large cities, and a spoken language that I love. Beyond that, I’ve dedicated little head space in planning my movements.
I could invest severe research towards residing in a new country I’ve yet to inhabit. But I don’t sense that as likely to impact my content in any notable way. Mainly, I just avoid being in a place that would impulse me to make unhappy decisions and knowingly compromise own health for no due reason.
Whenever I must transition for visa restrictions, the process becomes hardly more complicated than choosing where to head for lunch. I merely appeal to the familiar small handful of regions that well cater to my values. Therein I’ve become a product of globalization…
Questions, comments? Connect.