What I Learned Living Shoeless On A Tiny Island
Calling the tiny caribbean island of Little Corn (Nicaragua) home will forever remain a highlight of my life. No cars, no hot water, minimal electricity, no shoes… It was truly a disconnect from the rest of the world. As one could imagine, going from living within the fast-paced megalopolis of Toronto, Canada to a primal island gave me a huge opportunity to learn, grow and reflect. Given that sharing is caring, I thought that I would share with you the three most important lessons that I learned from this leap off the grid.
1. A decluttered life makes a decluttered mind
Keeping up with school, work, social events, the latest trends, working out, maintaining relationships, blah blah blah, big city life can be a recipe for grey hair, debt and struggle for authentic happiness. From the moment that I woke up to the minute I fell asleep, "should have", "would have", and "could have" flooded my mind.
Until I moved to the island and lived out of a backpack.
This change not only made me realize how little I truly need to be happy but it also simplified and sequentially enhanced my life and wellbeing. On the island, the response to "how’s it going?" or "what’s up?" was "right here" (as in enjoying the present moment). When I came back to Toronto, it truly concerned me how much people accumulate. How they stress about what they have, don’t have and need next. It was like observing a race that had no finish line—exhausting!
When you declutter you life, you declutter your mind and open up space for opportunity, happiness and beauty.
2) You can only evaluate your life by stepping out of it
I broke away from the hold that money, possessions and social status had on me while living in Toronto and immersed myself into my love for nature, animals, fresh food and free flowing people. Rising and falling with the sun, eating fresh mangos from the ground on my walk to work, and being surrounded by friendly animals and island people was like a fairy tale come true. The best part of it all is that I found a partner with the same outlook and I could not be more excited about our life together.
By removing external influences—like social pressures, advertisements, the media, annoying co-workers and crappy bosses—you are able to determine what authentically drives you. Following this drive results in this amazing comfort of being an authentic you and it's this authentic you that will find true love—of yourself, of life and of a true life partner.
3. We are so completely removed from nature, its not even funny
I'm not going to ramble on about how crappy we are treating the planet (this lovely lady can) but I am going to emphasize the disregard we give to the importance of the planet for our health.
I get it. There is not enough time in the day to get outside, start your own garden, get your daily groceries from the farmer and go to bed with the sun. But you must be conscious of the drastic effects that this has on your health. Irregular sleep patterns, poor fitness, food (or something that looks like it) from half way across the world, messed up hormones from all the additives make it incredibly hard to lose those extra pounds.
I only realized how messed up my health was when I left the city and felt what health was really about on the island. In fact, I was regarded as being super healthy compared to the rest of Toronto and never questioned it! But the power of REAL food, daily physical labour, meditation and minimal time spent in front of the screen hit me hard (in a good way). I felt, looked and performed better than ever!
“Your perspective on life comes from the cage you were held captive in.”
- Shannon L. Alder
I remember when a hotel guest from New York asked me where the gym and pool were on the island. I directed her down to the beach and explained that the ocean was the "pool" and the beach, with the resistance of the sand and the weight of the coconuts, was the "gym". She was speechless and actually complained to the hotel manager. What I was trying to tell her (and you) is that we have become so completely removed from nature that we don’t even know how to function in it. We can't leave the house without our cell phones or some form of entertainment. We can’t work out unless we have the right equipment. We don't even know where and how most of our food is made.
We have forgotten what its like to live in and with nature.
Sadly, this reality doesn't have a good ending.
Get off the computer, drop the phone and get outside.
The take-home message:
I am not saying that you have to quit your job and book it to a tropical island to gain true health and happiness. What I am saying is that you can learn from these lessons and question some of the things that you do, that do not serve you.
1) Simplify your life by getting rid of the stuff that you don't need.
2) Compare your current situation with the life you have always dreamed of.
3) Reconnect with nature through the choices of food, cosmetics, exercise and entertainment.
Which of the three lessons are you going to act on today?