Saturday, July 20, 2024

A secret to happiness in Mexico, and maybe in life: A perspective from our CEO

My wife and I have been thinking and talking a lot lately about the issue of mental health.

It seems like almost everyone we know these days is dealing with something. Not that everyone everywhere hasn’t always been dealing with something, but to us, things feel different now. It seems that people are struggling more now with managing everything in their daily life, and I think that the constant reinforcement of the “everything is awesome” message from people’s social media feeds isn’t helping either.

I’ve also been thinking about some recent conversations I’ve had with many people I know who have recently moved to different parts of Mexico. Some of them are struggling as well. In talking to them and trying to understand the root of their stress, I find some common themes, but fortunately I think there are some solutions.

The conversations usually revolve around what is not right in Mexico (when they compare things to what they’re used to back home in the United States).

Contractors do not arrive on time. Work is not done to the standards they expected. Things take longer than promised. Neighbors don’t act the way they wish they would. City services are not up to the level they would like them to be. And so on…and on.

These conversations can have a pretty negative effect on my own mental health as sometimes it seems as if the only thing that they want to do is unload their stress and complain — about everything.

It’s starting to feel like people see me as the “all things Mexico complaint department,” as if being the owner of Mexico News Daily somehow granted me special powers to fix all of their issues here.

Just the other night, in yet another session of complaints from some recently relocated gringo friends, I had a revelation.

At one point in the conversation, I stopped them and said: “What if you try focusing on what’s right about Mexico instead of always what’s wrong with Mexico?”

I gave a few personal examples from life in San Miguel de Allende.

Are the local city buses annoying because they are loud and belch exhaust? Or are they a blessing that allows families, the elderly and kids from all socio-economic levels an affordable and accessible way to stay connected to work, schools, churches, restaurants, shops and social events in the central city?

Are the speed bumps an unnecessary nuisance? Or are they a blessing because they force traffic to slow down, allow drivers to actually communicate with and greet each other, and help make our city so walkable for everyone?

Is the hot afternoon sun we are all experiencing right now a curse? Or is it a gift that encourages us to appreciate the mornings and evenings, to slow down and take it easy for a few weeks, catch up on reading Mexico News Daily articles, and maybe even catch a short afternoon siesta?

Is the fact that there is no Costco or Walmart in town a negative? Or is it a blessing as it forces many of us to get out and connect to the community, and support small business owners?

Is the constant noise of music, dogs, chickens, construction, and fireworks a nuisance that should be complained about and regulated? Or is it a constant friendly reminder that we are not alone and instead are part of a diverse, happy, vibrant community? For example, I was recently woken up by an event at a local park testing their sound system by blaring songs from the Bee Gees — what better alarm clock is there than that?!

I have by no means mastered the ability to completely focus on what’s right about Mexico more than what’s wrong yet, but I am working hard at managing my perspective.

I think that by doing so, it goes a long way towards keeping me in good mental health during what are some pretty crazy times in the world today.

As I think more about it, this mindset of course not only applies to living in Mexico, but to living anywhere. I think it might just be a key factor in improving our mental health and being happier people in our daily lives. Think about it, and more importantly, try practicing it!

Travis Bembenek is the CEO of Mexico News Daily and has been living, working or playing in Mexico for over 27 years.

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