Insights galore as I live a life of abundance
What a wonderful three weeks it’s been!
I love the routine I’ve developed for myself. I love the people I interact with and the conversations that we have. I love this city, and so far, it’s loving me back.
I don’t really know where to even begin, so I’m just going to brain dump all of my thoughts for everyone 😃
Whenever you move to a new city, you go through phases. At first there’s the honeymoon phase, and then the frustration phase, and then slow acceptance, and then you fall back in love in a much deeper, more profound way.
I’ll admit that I’m still 100% in the honeymoon phase. I’m loving every second of every day and truly living life in the present moment. Something could arise at any moment to snap me out of that, but I’m to focused on the present moment to care.
Every morning I wake up to a gorgeous sunrise and ask myself “Do I want to go to the beach and slackline/read/swim, hike a mountain, or go do some yoga on the terrace overlooking the city?”
When you start every day doing one of these three it’s hard to have a bad day after that.
Then I decide “what is the minimum amount of work I have to do in order to keep the business running and make sure that it’s growing?”
…and then I put in just enough. The bare minimum. (Keep in mind that the bare minimum also does require proactive planning and strategies to grow the company, at least in my mind).
Once I’m finished with what I NEED to get done, and I find myself searching for something to do, I tell myself to stop.
When I have that moment to decide to do something different, I evaluate how I want to spend my time. Given that I can literally do anything that I want to, it’s a very liberating feeling. I can write, or I can go out, or I can go see what everyone else is doing. I have the freedom to do anything as I please.
Moreover, I’m surrounded by people who are running businesses and creating international lifestyles. I’ve always believed that the best way to step your own game up is to surround yourself with great people, and this is the perfect environment for exactly that.
Here we have my buddy Adam who runs the hostel (+ everything else you could imagine someone getting involved in who runs a hostel/community/event driven business), another Adam who is a day-trader, and then a guy+girl from the UK who are running an NGO teaching Tennis to children in the Favelas.
Despite having drastically different businesses, the problems that we face all have similarities and we’re able to help each other. Sometimes Adam and I have been through it already and we can provide stories about how we handled these types of challenges and what we learned, and other times I’m getting ideas from others that push my own work to the next level.
Due to the community effect I’ve also been cooking more than I ever have in my life. Someone is always cooking something here, so you naturally pick things up here and there and become more experimental yourself. I love it!
The best part is that some of this is irrelevant of Brazil. This experience has showed me what I prioritize in life. I’m connecting with my values as an individual.
Being near a beach, being surrounded by great people, working as little as possible (Ha!), cooking healthy food and exercising and remaining active. These are things that I can do anywhere in the world.
In many respects I already knew that I loved to do all of these things. This is no new information. BUT, this is the first time that I am living ALL of these at the same time. It’s like every thing that I want to have in my life is here at my fingertips.
And think about the fact that I haven’t even touched upon the beautiful women, amazing food, never-ending variety of dance and music, and the insane amount of nature that I’m still yet to explore for Brazil as a whole!
Fuck me! Just writing that makes me jump for joy at what lies ahead!
Now don’t get me wrong, I’m living an incredibly privileged, self-centered, egotistical, and selfish lifestyle. It’s all about me 24–7. While others are around me and I’m a part of a community, I’ll admittedly say that I am largely self-indulgent and selfish.
The thing I’ve realized though is, is that such a bad thing? Have you ever TRULY given yourself the space and freedom to be a selfish piece of shit? Have you ever taken the time to indulge in all of your wildest dreams, not as a vacation, but as a day to day life?
Is it sustainable? Absolutely not. I would never want to be this much of a selfish piece of crap my whole life. But right now, in this moment, it feels right. It feels like I need to take care of myself before I take care of those around me.
This year I asked my mom, “What do you want to see me do more of? And what don’t you think I should do anymore?”
Her answer? Have more fun.”Go enjoy yourself. Work less. You’re young and single with no kids and no prospect of marriage anytime soon, go enjoy yourself and live it up! You’re so serious all the time with your work, it’s time that you take some time to enjoy yourself.”
And she was 100% right. Over the last year I’ve thought to myself that I forgot how to have fun. I thought that through all of my travels I’ve become so desensitized that it’s hard to get me excited. Mix that with my business oriented optimized workaholic mind and it’s a recipe for being too serious or unenthused.
There have been a lot of times in the last year where I felt that my energy was contrived or manufactured in some subtle way even I couldn’t fully recognize. Things didn’t feel quite right.
I’ve always had too much of a work ethic. Because I believe in hard work, I’m always working. When I’m not working, I feel guilty.
Once again, my mom once said to me “I’ve never seen someone work so much who makes so little money” — HAHA! Gotta love the honesty of a mother 😃
For that reason I don’t have to be worried about not working enough. I know that if I’m truly bored and have nothing to do, I’ll either work or start exploring new business ideas. Or write, which lately I fucking love doing. (Right now I’m flowing with a smile on my face….booyah!)
I feel that I am embodying her advice in the best way possible. I’m loving the shit out of life. I’m living each day with as much enthusiasm and passion that my body can handle.
I’ve also cultivated the maturity to realize that “getting the most out of life” doesn’t mean running yourself wild all over the city.
I’ve already been at that point in my life where I ran around the city going to every event, connecting with everyone, and becoming a part of the community.
When I’m honest with myself, I don’t want to do that right now, at this point in my life. In a month, mayhaps I will be in that mood. But for now I’m loving living like a hermit, only leaving the house when I have a beautiful woman to keep me company 😉
All in all, I’m indulging in indulging in myself. I’m doing what I want to, when I want to, living in the moment, in a way that I’ve always wanted to, but never truly embodied.
Back to living in Brazil, there are a lot of moments peppered throughout my day that also add to this mix. A lot of the enjoyment I get out of every day comes down to the small seemingly insignificant moments that are easy to go overlooked.
For example, one day while waiting for a taxi my buddy Adam and I popped into a place called “Bar de Manuel”, which is a restaurant/convenience store with alcohol (One thing to keep in mind is that literally EVERY small shop with bars of candy and water also has a shelf with Cachaça and other alcohol).
I had already eaten at Bar de Manuel, and met Manuel himself (true OG, always fresh as fuck and stylish) — and then we drank shots of Cachaça with him.
Ever since that fateful day, this has been my routine. If I am waiting for a taxi/uber, I order it to come to his bar, and then drink shots of Cachaça with him. Given that I’m heading out quite a bit, it’s been a solid routine and we’re quickly developing a close relationship.
Then there are other people who I see on the street everyday. The people who nod and ask you how your day is with a smile. The people that recognize you as someone they see every day. A simple “tudo bem?” is all it takes to give me a smile and be reminded of my new environment.
Then there are the people I see on the beach all the time too. The other people who slackline, the dudes smoking joints, the owners of the beach bar, the people who come with their dogs. All once again a constant reminder to smile.
These are all the small opportunities to speak a little bit of Portuguese and develop the beginnings of relationships with people.
On the notion of relationships, dating/making friends here has been interesting to say the least. For the first time in my life, it’s easier to meet women than it is to meet guys to chill with.
With the invention of tinder/bumble, if I want to meet someone new all I have to do is swipe. But let’s be honest, I’m not about to start swiping dudes to make friends.
Because there’s such a large gay population, a lot of the guys who I have met are gay. The other day I hung out with 3 gay dudes. They were upset with my taste in women, but were nonetheless respectful. It was a fun experience.
Either way it illustrates my point that I’ve met mostly women and gay dudes. Outside of the people I’ve met at the hostel, I haven’t really met any Brazilian dudes who I would like to chill and get hammered with and then go out for a night to find Brazilian beauties.
(This probably has more to do with the fact that I’m not exposing myself to new activities like sports or networking events where I can get that type of exposure.)
To make this slightly less gay (not that I have a problem with that), the women category has been fantastic 😀 Sparing details, the dating culture here is SO much more free and relaxed. It’s almost taboo to talk about things moving in the direction of a relationship.
There is a phrase here known as “amizade colorido” which literally means “colorful friendship”, which is basically our version of friends with benefits.
It seems like people come into relationships with this understanding. It’s more of a test to see if you can be friends with benefits FIRST, and then see if things can progress from there or if it fizzles out over time.
I like this because it puts a lot less pressure on the relationship. You can enjoy the company of the other person instead of evaluating them like an interview to see if they fit your checkboxes of what you look for in a partner.
I’ve always complained that dating culture in the US always feels like being sized up. It’s like the person is evaluating if they want to marry you on the first date. If you don’t fit their prescribed template, you’re done. And if you DO fit their template, it’s obvious pretty quickly.
The policy of “don’t ask don’t tell” seems to be the vibe I’m getting. Don’t ask me and I can have my fun, and I’ll do the same for you. Once those questions start floating around, the dynamic changes.
I’ve also noticed that the nature of sexuality in general comes into question here on the whole. The lines of gay/straight/trans/bi are all blurred. Everyone is everything. To place someone into a bucket like straight, gay, or bi, doesn’t quite work here.
After speaking with a handful of people here, women are very free with trying partners of both sexes, and apparently men are also.
Don’t get me wrong here, I’m a foreigner generalizing for the sake of observations I’ve made throughout my short time here. Don’t kill me if any of this is inaccurate or I’m spreading an inaccurate image of Brazil. If I am, my bad, I can only learn from experience.
Overall, people seem very comfortable with their sexuality. People of all sexual orientations hang out together and it’s not a problem whatever you want to be and you’re not judged or placed into buckets based on your sexual behavior. It’s refreshing to see that people are this open and honest with each other.
This is also indicative of how people talk to each other here. Conversations are full of touching, grabbing, and hand gestures. The people are very touchy feely. It’s completely ok to put your arm around someone you’ve never met, or have someone grab your forearm while telling you a story so you can’t leave. It’s just another indicator of their comfort with sexuality and being touched by someone else.
Nonetheless, aside from all of the fun and hedonistic adventures I’ve been on thus far, I am still very focused on improving as an individual and becoming a better version of myself. Just because I’m drinking, smoking, and acting like a maniac doesn’t mean I can’t improve myself at the same time 😉
Which brings me to my primary philosophy while living here….
Mellorar cada dia —
Literally this translates to — “Improve every day” — Whether this is for my Portuguese, slack-lining, cooking, writing, or growing my business, this has been my mindset for the last few weeks.
For much of my life I’ve always been focused on the end goal. Where I currently am is never good enough compared to where I want to be. If I make 1 placement in a month, I’m unhappy because I wanted 5.
If I’m writing I get upset I didn’t make my goal of 5 posts a month, instead of focusing on how the quality of my writing improved in the three that I DID write.
Instead I’ve become more focused on the process, rather than the goal.
Instead I ask myself if I’m getting better every day. Finding the small wins in every day, and being happy with my present moment, rather than thinking into the future about where I want to be.
For Portuguese this means writing down my common mistakes, and making an effort to make them less often. Not trying to get rid of making mistakes entirely, but instead focus on catching myself when I do make a mistake.
For the slackline this means getting one step farther every day. Not being focused on crossing the line entirely, but focusing on how many steps I take in total. Focusing on how calm I was on the line, rather than how far I walked.
In cooking this means trying one new ingredient every day. Or trying a new technique of making a food that I’ve already made. Focusing on improving my range of what I can cook, rather than trying to cook an entirely new dish from scratch.
I’m learning to be process oriented in everything that I do. Catching myself when I’m wrapped up in my goal chasing mindset, and instead counteracting it with the small improvement for the day.
Don’t get me wrong, being goal oriented is important for long term success. However, I believe that you sometimes need to counter-balance whatever your natural disposition is with the complete polar opposite to obtain true balance.
This means that if you have a tendency to work too much, work less. If you have a tendency to focus on the goals, focus instead on the process. And vice versa as well. If you work too little, up your game and work more. If you are focused on the process and lose sight of long term goals, then start doing some more forward thinking.
Which brings me to my other mantra —
Translates to equilibrium or balance. The slackline has taught me a lot about balance.
When you over compensate in one direction, you need to get yourself back with equal momentum from the other side. When you’re solid and upright, you can simply walk the path.
It’s hard to walk the path to success when you’re always falling off the line and starting over again.
In life we’re always out of balance. We either work too much, or work too little. Party too much, or party too little. Drink too much, with not enough moderation for long term health.
When life is out of balance, it’s impossible to make forward progress. In life we first need to find balance, and then we can begin to walk the path of success.
When I look back on my life, I’ve always made the best progress when I have the right things in check. Whenever my life is out of balance in some way, life has a funny way of correcting course FOR you, and when it does, it’s usually quite unpleasant.
This can be burnout. Or an injury in the gym. Or frustration/being moody. Or a sickness of some kind that forces me to break my negative habit.
I’ve learned to self-correct course, rather than having life correct course for me.
I now run a daily evaluation of where my life might be out of balance, and then take proper action to ensure I don’t fall off track and give myself a setback.
These two philosophies of “mellorar cada dia”, and “equilibru” have shaped my experience here as a constant reminder in my daily life.
I focus on improving in small ways every day, and I try to notice when my partying and hedonistic lifestyle might be going overboard. When I notice something is out of whack, I take the time to figure out how to change that activity.
Whew! Holy shit that was a brain dump. I think I’m finally out of things to say. If you have made it this far, thanks for reading. Please reach out to me and let me know how this made you feel. I love hearing from people when they read what I wrote, so if you’re sitting out there in the crowd, raise your hand and say something 😃
Thoughts? Similar experiences? Let me know in the comments below!