Love and friendship are at the center of living a healthy and vibrant life. Love is at the core and even with all the money in the world, without love, there’s a void that many try to fill with lavish items, drugs, booze, and sex.
Needing a reset on my outlook on life, love, and work, I decided to leave the U.S. for a month.
I needed to be far away from anyone I knew, disconnect my phone, and focus on my internal world. I needed to get my soul back and my perspective.
After a brief stay in London, I booked an apartment in Porto, Portugal for one month. During this month, the Portuguese culture, random late night conversations, and fellow travelers I met helped restore my spirits. They also helped remind me about love, life, and friendships and how crucial they are to living a good life.
Here are seven takeaways that I learned during my month away.
Lesson #1: Let go and live in the present moment
The Buddhist practice of non-attachment comes from understanding the deep truths of impermanence. This non-attachment practice is important for us (myself included). We have a lot of things, results, and people that we, unfortunately, attach ourselves to and often our worth as an individual as well.
Without undoing these attachments and freeing yourself, finding peace within yourself is difficult.
Being non-attached doesn’t mean you can’t work towards something or love someone just because everyone and thing is going to die someday.
Being aware of impermanence and OK with letting go means that you can love and appreciate even more than if you held a deep attachment to it.
Knowing that a flower I picked up in the gardens in Porto is impermanent and won’t last forever makes me appreciate the beauty of that flower much more.
I met some good friends here. Knowing that these times are impermanent makes me appreciate every second that we spend together because it’ll be gone soon.
The present moment is an opportunity to experience the beauty and magic that life possesses.
Lesson #2: Connection & relationships are powerful (and needed more than ever)
I thought becoming an author would fill the void. I thought being on television could be the answer. I thought recognition for my writing was the missing piece. I thought a six pack was the missing link. But, none of those could fill the void of connection.
In a world with many social media outlets, true connection is a dying art that needs resuscitation. In fact, the social media outlets have provided false sources of true connection.
As one of the locals told me, “A lot of us don’t have much, but we have each other and our relationships are important.”
One thing I noticed during my stay here was the level of focus and interest while having conversations and dining. There wasn’t a rush to eat our food or finish our drink nor were phones out on the table to serve as a distraction.
As you go about your days, make it a goal to have one genuine connection a day. Strike up a conversation at the cafe, take that pretty lady on a date, or go for a walk with a friend while your smartphone is put away.
Lesson #3: Every pretty girl you meet doesn’t have to be a love interest
In this hookup obsessed culture where apps give off the vibe that sex is on demand at your convenience, many think that male and female can’t be friends (without some extracurricular activity involved).
One of my good friends I met in Porto is a pretty, smart, and funny woman who is well put together. Often times, people would ask if we’re an item.
Just because you have two beautiful single people around each other all the time doesn’t mean it has to escalate into something more than a platonic friendship.
By not trying to turn every pretty girl into a desire for affection, you’re able to gain quality friends for life and also see the world through the lens of a high-quality woman which us males can never learn enough about.
Lesson #4: The world rewards those who are courageous and bold
At the bar with a friend and we’re talking about how we’re both non-aggressive and more patient with our approaches to women and if that’s a flaw. This comes up because he has a crush on one of the girls at our table.
We both come to the conclusion through past lessons that planning and waiting for the perfect moment leads to lonely nights and unfulfilled dreams.
Knowing that the world rewards those who have a bias for action, he approaches her and gets a date.
Whether it’s chasing that girl who you’re uncertain will share reciprocated feelings, chasing a fitness goal, a business goal, or any other goal for that matter—feel the fear, admit the fear, and take the leap.
When you think about not doing something, think about that something—that someone—that amazing experience that potentially awaits you at the end of that tunnel.
Lesson #5: Say yes to the adventure
Randomly walking through the streets of London during New Year’s Eve while laughing at drunk people, taking a dance class in a language I don’t know, board game nights and playing frisbee in the park lead to some of the most enriching conversations during my entire trip along with helping me restore my creativity tank.
Some of the best moments in our lives are the ones that aren’t planned at all.
Lesson #6: The end game doesn’t always arrive when you want it to
As my good friend reminded me over a long walk—you can’t rush the process.
Sometimes the timing isn’t right, but that doesn’t mean you abandon it. Events, situations, and experiences will happen when there suppose to happen.
Making a profit with your business, losing those twenty pounds, getting that girl, figuring out your purpose, finding a true home—there isn’t a definitive time frame for those things. They just come.
Lesson #7: Trust your gut
Sometimes your decisions and intuitions won’t make sense to anyone but yourself. Learning to trust yourself is one of the most powerful things you can do for yourself. After all, who knows you better than yourself?
Sometimes following your gut will lead to feeling more pain, fear, confusion, and discomfort, but do it anyway.
Start that business even though you have what many would consider a great job.
Take the trip despite what people say.
Pursue that woman who gives you butterflies in your stomach.
When you trust your gut, that’s when you allow the magic of life to appear and make the ordinary something extraordinary.
Photo: Getty Images