Saturday, Jul 9, 2016
It is hard to believe I have been in Ecuador for six months. I would like to be writing and saying how great everything is for me and how much I am enjoying it right now, but that wouldn’t be true. Lately living here has been mentally difficult for me. I’ve been struggling with feeling happy. I’ve been thinking about the possible reasons for this, and I believe my current experience speaks to a larger reality about life and living in our current times.
I think there is, in our US culture, a tension that exists between our External world and our Internal landscape. The External is caught up in a cultural mindset to achieve, acquire, and advance. A constant, unrelenting expectation to produce, increase, and make more. For the sake of the demands of the External, our Internal selves get set aside, divorced, and even sacrificed.
Just because I moved from the US to Ecuador doesn’t mean I’ve escaped this thinking. I feel a self-induced pressure to produce, to make more, to advance, to generate and create here. My issue with this scope of thought isn’t about it being “good” or “bad”. My issue is when this scope of thought overshadows, and prevents connection to my internal landscape.
What is the internal landscape? It is our connection to nature, each other, mystery, the spiritual, wonder, un-knowing, and the “breath of life”. These connections are some of the very reasons I moved to Ecuador.
I wanted to connect to the energy of the natural world that surrounds me here. I wanted to find the shared humanity between people who are culturally and ethnically different. I wanted to experience living in the present moment mystery of life. This country affords me all the opportunity I could hope for to do that, and at times that is exactly what I have done.
What I am discovering is that it is hard to keep my internal landscape connected to these parts of life when I take my focus off of them. I fall into performance…how fast am I learning Spanish, how can I grow my coaching practice, how am I going to acquire the ideal living situation in Ecuador. Then, I begin to use these parameters as my measurement of success and happiness living here in Ecuador.
I don’t have to use these parameters for my sense of happiness, yet I easily fall into a culturally ingrained way of being that creates this erroneous connection. This isn’t any different from thinking I will be happy when I get promoted, or happy when I get married, or divorced; or happy when I have a new house, or a new car, and of course the list of “when I…” can go on forever.
When I moved to Ecuador I got real clear with myself that “moving” wasn’t going to make me happy or unhappy. What I was excited about was the opportunity for my internal landscape to grow, expand, and breathe in new and different ways. When that happens I do feel happy. It’s deep, solid, and lasting.
No one needs to move to a foreign country to feel happy, but I do believe when the Internal landscape is nurtured, sustained happiness in one’s life can be achieved. And isn’t this the challenge of living in a culture where the Internal landscape is discounted and sacrificed for the External? There is a price for this: anxiety, depression, stress, irritability, dissatisfaction, and impatience to name just a few. Does this sound at all familiar to anyone?
Well here is the good news, there is a fix. The key is to become an observer of oneself in any situation. If I can become aware of myself and what I am focusing on, then I can make appropriate choices to get new and different results. I have to be able to see how I am behaving, operating, and choosing in order to be able to course correct.
The type of Observer I am will create the possibilities available to me. When I observe, I have an opportunity to ask questions like: What beliefs am I holding about that? Where did they come from? Are they beliefs I formed or ones given to me? If I had a different belief about this, what options would be available for me in this situation? What is preventing me from making this choice or that choice?
I’ve had to access my Observer self to course correct the experience I am currently having in Ecuador. First I needed to be able to see that I have lost track of many of the important things I moved here for, and more importantly those things that feed my Inner landscape. Second, in observing I had to challenge a belief I was holding that was creating suffering for me. It was: If I am not living comfortably on the ocean, then I have failed in my move here.
In the six months I have been in Ecuador I have been challenged in my way of thinking and in what happiness is for me. I’ve had to dig deep and figure out what is going on with me when my focus, thoughts, and feelings have gone off course. It is work I feel fortunate to be able to do.
Living in Ecuador isn’t about being in Ecuador per se for me. Living in Ecuador is about nurturing my Inner landscape and discovering new ways in which I can contribute to others, and add meaning to my own life during my time on this planet. This was the drive for me to leave a comfortable well-paying career, and Ecuador was the place I chose to begin this journey.
It has been six months… and the journey continues.