How much does this sound like your reasoning behind moving to the Philippines … or wanting to?
… In life many of us chase the seemingly elusive ‘prize’ of happiness and seek it out in all sorts of places. We look for it in a marriage, we wonder if it can be provided by children, we go after it when we change our jobs and perhaps believe it will come to us when we retire…but the truth of the matter is, happiness is a state of mind and it comes from within.
The naked truth is, a great many of us here are here because we felt the Philippines would make us happier than living in the US or UK or Australia or where ever.
And yet, truth be known, living in the Philippines can not make anyone happy … even a Filipino. Nor can living back home make anyone happy, either.
You see, in reality, even though we spend a huge percentage of our lives either being unhappy, or being mad at someone or somewhere for making us unhappy, the truth is, we always control our own happiness. Happiness is one of the few things in your life that you always “own”, outright and utterly. No one else can control it except you … ans some people can’t seem to cope with this responsibility.
Here are a few ideas, coping techniques and philosophies you might find give you a “boost” on that always slightly elusive and arduous climb to happiness.
Positively manage Your Challenges: From day one, think this through and keep it in your mind. Moving to the Philippines will not be a ticket to paradise. Figure out, in advance, what you are going to do to cope with the individual challenges that will arise, no matter what you think. How many issues can you think of that might become a challenge to you, just from reading my blog, and a few others like, say, Bob Martin’s and Randy C’s and … oh I could put a lot of others in this space … what blogs do you read, and who else should I give a little “link love” to here?
Notice how every one of us has often written about things that didn’t go quite right … or worse yet, things that have gone pretty much horribly wrong. Imagine yourself in any one of these situations and figure out, now, while you are sitting comfortably in a controlled environment, power on in your home or office, food in the ref, hospitalization card in your back pocket, etc., just how you would cope. or could you?
You know, living here in the Philippines is not for everyone. Not at all. Certain things may just prove unmanageable for some of you … and this would be the time to think that part through.
Now, before you commit the all too common expat blunder of showing up here, money in the bank, intending to show all the Filipinos “how things are done back home”, and then leaving in 6 months or a year, a gaudy-looking “expat mansion” for sale at half of what you have tied up in it all you have to show for your sojourn here.
You know this may come as a shock to you, but very, very few of you out there are smarter than the collective wisdom of those of us who have been here before you … and just because you may have more years of formal education, or the ability to write (and spell better than me or another expat you read often does not mean you are guaranteed success.
Think it all through now, while the thinking is still free.
Figure Out What You Will Do About the Separation of Distance: Learn to deal with a simple fact right now. If you come here to live you will be 7,000 or more miles from whatever you hold near and dear today.
The pull of parents, brothers and sisters, grandchildren and classmates and other friend so far away is going to be strong, and continually tugging on your heart-strings.
There are some coping techniques … VOIP video chats and phone calls, planning frequent trips, ferrying relatives over here from time to time, etc., but none of the coping is any better than a stop-gap.
Any way you slice it, the Philippines is along way (and a long time … the far right column is typical flight times in hours and minutes) from a great many places. What’s your strategy going to be?
Can You Start Now Developing A Positive Frame of Mind? I know some of you are going to get lost here about. “Oh no, “ you are saying, “Dave is launching of into one of those spiritual, or even religious areas. I’m a rough, tough, hard-ass rugged individualist, and that ‘touchy-feely’ stuff isn’t for me.”
Well think that if you will, and adios if you chose to stop reading here, but let me give you a parting shot or two to consider while you are traveling to the bar … or wherever you go to recharge your manly, “I can take care of myself” self-image.
The realities of retirement are sometimes difficult to come to terms with – as we age so our health can deteriorate, our energy levels can dwindle, our positive self-image can fade in a society obsessed with youthful beauty, we can lose loved ones and perhaps we can even lose our sense of identity when we leave our career behind. All of these challenges come at a time when we are older and therefor expected to be ‘wiser’ and more experienced at coping with change and challenges. This means perhaps people are less willing to offer support because they feel it will not be required or welcome – and for those of us living abroad and away from our extended support network, getting the help that might make things easier is perhaps more difficult…
This will come to all of us. No matter if we are an emotional, “touchy-feely” person today or as rough and tough as John Wayne always wanted to be perceived. When you have looked into the eyes of as many rugged individualist, sometimes hard-hearted, no-nonsense men as they lie on their deathbed as I have, you will then know I am right.
The sooner you come to grips with the reality that old age, weakness and eventually death comes to all of us, the sooner you can begin working on your coping strategies. now, today, when you still have that ‘chutzpa’ you’ve always been known for.
Hate to make this so blunt, really, but have you considered who will be at your bedside when you die? If everyone you have ever thought of being there lives back in the USA … or (sadly as some expats have voiced to me) if you don’t want “them” (meaning Filipinos) at your bedside, then obviously, you are barking up the wrong tree if you think moving here to the Philippines is going to make you happy in any long-term context.
Think it all through while you are still relatively young, strong, independent and while you still know all the answers as so many of my fellow expats seem to … because someday, just like someone I am currently spending a lot of time with, you to will have the eyes of a scared-looking little boy who perhaps has just had a vision of his mama.
Hard to believe, but most of us all end up exactly the same way, no matter what country we happen to be living in when the day comes that we finally stop living.