Moving to the beach was once something that existed far off in the future, behind every other picture, quote and goals list pinned to my vision board. Smack dab in the center of it all, a quote from Buddah (as if he was speaking it directly to me) stood out boldly above it all. It read: “There Is No Path To Happiness, Happiness Is The Path.” I remember fiddling through prints at my local bookstore what feels like lifetimes ago when I stumbled upon this one that spoke to me so loudly I paid the outrageous price-tag to keep that reminder close to me always.
One year after closing our first business, or rather burning it to the ground and accepting a debt of $100K in order to have a chance to truly finding the path that was happiness (just like Buddah so boldly told me every time I looked up from my laptop) we made the decision to pack up our life in Canada and move our bums to the beaches of Mexico.
Was this the nomadic lifestyle I was following? Or was this simply following a desire that had existed so prevalently in my heart for the last 5 years of my life? To this day I still don’t know if it was courage or spontaneity that pulled us here…but what I do know is that what I expected to happen and what actually transpired are two very different things.
The Adventure Begins
When I thought about living on the beach I kinda pictured my exact same life, but beside the ocean with a few additional coconuts and a permanent sun-kissed glow tossed in there. I pictured feeling how I did every time I went on vacation to Mexico – carefree, super chill and basically the happiest version of myself possible.
We decided that we were going to try to live as inexpensively as possible. How much did we really need to be happy, afterall? My guess was not very much…so with that in mind we began scouring AirBnB for the least expensive condo we could find. As luck would have it we found one for $22 a day right in the heart of what seemed to be a pretty popular place – Zona Romantica, Puerto Vallarta. And so it was decided – we were going to live like locals and test the waters of owning less and experiencing more.
The following 8 secrets are deep life lessons I’ve learned since that moment, and how I apply them to my business to now create and inspire from a place of flow and ease.
Secret #1: I don’t need a lot, but I like nice things…hi, my name is bougie
It turns out that you never quite know what you value until you pack a storage locker with your life and haul ass for the beach. We left behind all the comforts of home and threw ourselves into a completely foreign environment. We were filled with both exhilleration and a little bit of fear of the unknown. As it turns out, I realized that what I own isn’t what makes me happiest, afterall (just like I had expected) We ended up living in a (less than) 500 sqft studio apartment right in the heart of the Romantic Zone (pictured below). It was charming and very authentic Mexico. But there were some luxuries I missed with time – like drinking the tap water, my own washer and dryer…you know “luxuries”. Call me a cultural snob I suppose, but what I learned is that there are certain comforts you give up when you decide to live like a local in a country run by the cartel…
But ultimately, the lesson here is that when you really think about what you need to be happiest – it truly comes down to the thoughts in your head and the people you love, doesn’t it? Looking around myself I see children giggling everywhere playing with nothing more than a stick in the sand. I see families loving and supporting each other, grateful to be with the ones they love. I see the poorest of people on my walk home from the gym every morning, always smiling and waving to me with happiness in their heart. This country is full of lessons of joy, and I’m so grateful for the experience of learning to find ease in my every day without needing “things” to help me recreate an artificial version.
In the past I had sought out happiness through the lens of success and accomplishment (like so many of us do), but as I dive deeper into myself and choose to view happiness through a new lens, one where status and ego and money have no place, I give myself permission to settle deeper into the purpose of my work, my influence and whom I am trying to serve with my gifts.
Turns out, wise old Buddah was right. Just being by the ocean wasn’t the antidote to needing change. I had this vision of what it would feel like to wake up by the water every day…and what I learned is that where you are and what is around you has very little influence on your internal environment. The external “stuff” we accumulate will never change the internal world. But your internal world has the power to completely transform how you relate to the world around you. I learned to begin nourishing myself first, which then allowed the beauty around me to amplify. I re-prioritized my schedule, began to deepen my meditation practice, found pockets of time throughout the day to breathe and slow down, and I found a new passion for being present in every moment. With these internal shifts I learned to shed the hustled outer shell I had been carrying for so long. It felt good to settle in to a new slower pace of life and a new perspective of myself and what I needed to feel alive.
Secret #2: Disconnection is non-negotiable
The slower pace of life I was learning to adopt in my daily life was just the segway to many more amazing changes to come. The resistance I had been feeling for quite some time to connect and create virtually was now validated in my new environment. In other words, my gut was telling me to be more present in everything that I do, but my outer world was pushing me to do what I observed everyone else doing. Where we’re from, people connect through texting, snapchat, instagram, facebook, twitter – and we feel like without these platforms how could we possibly know what people are doing, saying, thinking or feeling? This year I choose to connect more in person with real, human interaction. You know the kind that leaves you feeling full, warm, and happy? I want more of that in my life and less technology impacting how I feel each and every day. Just a few weeks ago I broke up with Instagram and committed to finding new ways to interact with my following and my peers. I also committed to 1 day a week where I remain completely disconnected from the virtual world and stay completely present in the moment. In an industry that is pushing for us to pump out more content than ever before, I challenge you to consider what feels good for you and learn to trust your gut. In business there is no such thing as right and wrong. There are people who grow massively successful businesses without ever posting on Instagram, and there are people who sell millions with Instagram stories. My lesson to myself, and to you, is to think about what lights you up, what you enjoy the most, how you would love to get your message out to the world, and then triple down on THAT.
Secret #3: Life is a series of pivots
One of the biggest lessons I learned is that I can literally change my whole world with one decision. You are never stuck in one place unless you choose to root yourself there. That every choice you make has associated pros and cons attached to it…but that if you trust your gut you will realize that whether you judge a choice as positive or negative externally – internally it gave you exactly what you needed to move to that next chapter in your life. That there is a plan for you bigger than the one you have for yourself and that you must learn to surrender into that plan and trust your gut when it comes to making decisions. Expecting your life to move in a linear path is robbing yourself of all the beautiful peaks and valleys on your path. If you choose to see everything that was not in your original plan as negative or wrong…you will miss out on all of the doors trying to open before you. Life is a series of pivots – you are meant to grow and expand in this way. My pivot away from home and down to the beaches of Mexico began as an escape and turned into the lesson of a lifetime. In business, what this means is that when you feel stuck, unsure or stagnant – open up to the opportunities that are popping up in front of you instead of trying to force what you think “should” be happening or “should” come next. Remember that sometimes the best laid plans are the ones that were created for us.
Secret #4: Nourishment is the secret
Nourishment comes in many forms here. First, the sun and the ability to walk everywhere is a form of nourishment I realize now that I lacked entirely back home. I thrive with sun on my skin and an average of 10K steps a day. Without movement and sunshine I am a much less productive and happy person. In order to feel the best every day and to show up as my best for my business and my clients movement and sunshine are now non-negotiables in my daily life.
The second form of nourishment came to me in the form of simple, wholesome foods. I cherish my weekly trip to the market where I buy an entire weeks worth of farmers market produce, freshly baked breads and butchered chicken for less than I would pay for a bag of apples and a box of protein bars each week back home. The cost of living here has reinvigorated the value I place so heavily now of fueling my body with foods that are fresh and wholesome and how eating in this way has truly extended into the productivity and focus I have in my work.
The last form of nourishment that took me by surprise is in friendly human connection. Back home strangers keep each other at a distance out of fear, judgement, time scarcity and energy scarcity. Here the culture comes alive with how everyone interacts with each other, supports each other and genuinely cares for the well being of others. Showing others compassion and kindness is now a value I live by and will carry with me into my business and into whatever life has up its sleeve for me next.
Secret #5: Adventure feeds the soul
Experiencing and exploring new places, cultures, people and ways of life has ignited something in me that I hope everyone will get to feel in their lifetime. I have learned to embody the mantra “live as if today were your last day” as I began to deepen my meditation practice. And what this has taught me is that adventure is food for my soul, inspiration, creativity, and passion. My source for life is found in the adventures I go on each and every day – be them small or big. Adventure is what I call stepping beyond what I know and embracing the version of what I see as possible in the world. I want to grow personally through adventure, but also professionally as I learn to embrace new ways of thinking and doing in business. Adventure can look very different for everyone, but ultimately learning to grow through challenge, attempting new ways of doing things that feel foreign to you and stepping outside of your physical comfort zone can have a profound shift in your energy, happiness, and success.
Secret #6: Energy is everything and everywhere
The energy we receive is a reflection of the energy we give. How we want to feel in our life, business, relationships, or whatever is completely characterized by how we feel about ourselves – our internal energy pool. This is kinda just how I think about it, so take from this what you will. But something I have learned about energy is that we are full of it…until we aren’t. Energy is abundant and we can create and absorb as much or as little as we want. Why then do most of us walk around drained, burnt out, and in mad moods? We choose to give more than we take. It’s easy to play victim and blame external things for why we are tired all of the time, uninspired, bored, sad, you name it. But the truth is that you had a choice all along. I’ve been learning this since being in Mexico, this secret that I truly believe would have remained hidden to me had I not given myself the space to find out what it is that impacts my energy and what I need to do to protect it. I’ve learned that superficial connection drains me, while real life connection fills me. I’ve learned that creative space is vital to my passion, yet forced creation with expectations attached to its outcomes is draining and zaps me of all creative flow. I’ve learned that money and happiness and love and joy are all energies that I can infinitely attract to me, or repel because of my own internal beliefs and values. I’ve learned that being who I truly am is the fastest way to attract more of what will fill me up, and that by trying to fit the mold of others I drain myself faster than anything else. What energy do you feel you lack in your life?? Because that which you lack is that which you are choosing to give away. We all have equal opportunity for energy, yet we place ourselves at the mercy to what is happening around us instead of choosing to control how we react and let go of external circumstances in order to guard our internal environment.
Being present, finding joy in simplicity and ease, learning to trust my gut, disconnect more often and remain ruthlessly aware of where I choose to place energy (or not) is a journey in and of itself. But ultimately what I know to be true is that without the uncomfortable step forward out of the comforts of home and into a completely new environment I never would have had the space to learn so much about myself and my life in such a short period of time.
That said, I hope you realize that you don’t have to haul ass to Mexico to go through a similar shift. Consider how you might adjust your current environment, workflow, or what you choose to focus your energy on in your life. By making small shifts like this you can truly create a ripple into every facet of your life that is waiting to be woken up. We just need to give ourselves the chance to trust in ourselves and in life.