1 Year in Mexico: Life Lessons

by | Apr 8, 2021 | Travel

I moved to Mexico at the beginning of April 2020.  This means I have been here for a year.  I took some time to reflect on the life lessons I learned.

1) The world needs more peacemakers and less agitators.

I was guilty of being an agitator – mostly because I was agitated.  I publicly ripped Trump and everyone who voted for him during and after the election.  Trump voters include my family members and people I’ve been friends with my whole life.  It was a mistake to become so angry over politics, no matter how negative the environment was.

We need more peacemakers and less agitators.  From now on, I vow to do my part.  Lesson learned.

2) Things that are obvious to me are not as obvious to everyone.

This doesn’t mean that I am any more smart than them, or any more stupid.  It just means I have a different perspective.  I had the good fortune of receiving an excellent education.  I also had the good fortune of living in England, Ghana and Mexico.  These experiences shaped me and changed me dramatically.  I see the world very differently than I did ten or fifteen years ago.

I’ve learned that public education is very important.  You can’t have a stupid population, or you have poor collective decision-making.  Trash on the beach, dangerous roads and sidewalks, poor public leaders, poor public policy – these are symptoms of an undereducated populace making bad collective decisions.

3) Nobody hates your success more than someone who has failed at what you’re doing.

Don’t expect people who have failed at what you are doing to be happy for you.  Expect them to be jealous.  It doesn’t matter what skill you are learning: a musical instrument, a sport, a second language, or weight loss.  There is no bigger hater than someone who has tried and failed.

Surround yourself with people who have succeeded at what you want to do, not people who have quit.  Associate with people who found a way to win, not people who found an excuse why they couldn’t do it.

4) Following American news just means being angry all of the time.

Democrat or Republican, it doesn’t matter.  If you’re watching the news, you’re pissed off.  Turn it off and pick up a book.  Especially if you’re watching Fox News.  It’s poison for the mind.  Unfollow the news and go do something else.  This can be a hard rule to follow because the news is addictive, by design.

5) Greeting people in the local language is the single most important key to integrating into a new society.

The simple act of saying “hi” or ”good morning” in the local language goes farther than you think.  Even if that’s all you can say, still say it.  Greet your neighbors and the people you meet in the market.  Greet people you pass by on the street.  In a village, everybody knows everybody.  Greeting people will establish you as a friendly face and will open up conversations.  These conversations will lead to friendships and opportunities that would not have happened if you had stayed silent.

6) I don’t ever want another job for the rest of my life.

My stated goal is to never have a job again.  Some people want to be a billionaire.  Some people want to be famous.  I want to live to be 100 without ever having a job again.  I have more than enough ways to occupy my time.  I don’t want or need anyone telling me how to spend my days.

I will agree to contracts, and I will fulfill them.  But I don’t want anyone telling me when to wake up, when to eat, or when to show up to work.  That’s what happens when you’re an employee.  They own you.

7) The greatest thing about America is diversity.

Living in a highly homogenous society (Ghana) made me appreciate the diversity we have in the U.S.  Even in Mexico, there are pretty much Mexicans and a few white westerners.  I have not found many black or Asian people here.  In the U.S., you can find people from every background.  The problem is that we don’t have nearly as much diversity in congress as we do on the street.

America is great specifically because of it’s diversity.  America’s diversity is it’s strength.  Things will start getting better when we start getting better representation in the American Senate and House of Representatives.  Over-representation of any group leads to myopic decision making.

8) The greatest American export is music.

Go anywhere in the world and you will hear American music.  Even in countries that don’t speak English.  If America is rich in anything, it’s music.  We have all different types, each with their own unique history and culture.  We have rock, punk, jazz, hip hop, EDM, reggae, classical and everything in between.  I’m not aware of any other country that has as deep or as broad of a music culture as the U.S.  This is something to be proud of.

9) America doesn’t value humility enough, and it’s ruining American culture.

More is never enough.  Win at all costs, including lying, cheating and stealing.

The one thing America will never let you have is ”enough.”  But ”enough” is where happiness and contentment lie.  You will have no semblance of peace as long as you are constantly craving more.  Buddhists figured this out long ago.  A society of humble, real people is a much happier place than a society of arrogant, phony, egotistical ones.

10) There are lots of people who move to Mexico to “learn Spanish.”  There are few who actually do.

Learning a second language seems like a great idea until people realize the amount of work and consistent, daily commitment it takes.  Everyone wants to learn a second language, but few ever do.  Simply moving to Mexico isn’t enough.  There are people who have lived in Mexico for decades and still can’t even order food in Spanish.  Learning a new language takes consistent, daily studying and commitment over the course of months and years.

11) I feel closest to God when I am dead broke, or about to get smashed by a giant wave.

In the water, the waves sometimes make me say my prayers.  I generally try to avoid those situations, but sometimes the set of the day rolls in by surprise and I have to pray that I make it out in time.  Those prayers have meaning because I don’t want to get smashed.  I think anyone who has spent enough time surfing is familiar with that fear and many other types of fear.  Big waves, cold water, animals, sharp reefs.  There can be a lot of risks to navigate.  There are a lot of things you can control by your skills and decision making, but there are also things you cannot control.  The things that are out of your control are in God’s hands.  I feel close to God when I am surfing.

I also feel close to God when I am dead broke.  I don’t advocate being broke.  There’s nothing glamorous about it.  The stress is bad for your health.  It is much better to have a healthy income.  But the prayers really start to have meaning when you are afraid of missing your rent payment or being a drain on your family.

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