7 Behavior Choices of a Happy Expat

In the previous post we talked about the first three behavior choices of a happy expat:

1.  I am intensely curious.

2.  I accept others as they come, I don’t judge, and I don’t try to change people to my liking.

3.  I look at everything as an amazing learning experience.

(Details of each are in the previous post).

So, let’s continue with the last four:

4.  I find opportunities wherever I am and I don’t lament those I’ve left at behind. Life of an expatriate consists of one move after another.  Sometimes we know when that move is coming and sometimes we don’t (in these days of “the crisis” many of us will move suddenly).  Opportunities that were open to us in one place may not be available in another.  But remember “life is always offering us new beginnings…” There will be new opportunities, so do you want to spend the time lamenting about what you left behind or do you want to spend the time listening and looking out for what’s opening up for you?

5.  I know that feeling sad at times is part of the game. A happy expat doesn’t mean a giddy-at-all-times expat.  A happy expat means also an expat who knows that being sad at times is part of the expatriate experience.  Being sad about leaving friends behind; being sad about leaving your family far away; being sad about quitting a job or changing a career … this list can go on and on.  The difference between a happy expat and an expat that’s not happy is that for the former the sadness is something that’s natural and something that doesn’t take over your life and makes a victim out of you.

6.  I share. Sharing means so many different things.  It may mean sharing with your friends and family when you are sad – going through the stressful times alone is no fun.  It may mean sharing with a coach – a right client-coach partnership will undoubtedly make your expatriate experience richer.  It may also mean  sharing your experience with others, helping those like you find the best facets of their expatriate journeys.  And, of course, sharing may also mean teaching people around you about your culture, your values, your beliefs, and things you hold dear.  But remember, sharing isn’t preaching!  When you share, you give people a choice and freedom to decide whether they want to follow you or not.

7.  I stay clear of criticism, sulking, and stonewalling. It is so very easy to blame someone else in your misfortunes.  It’s easy to say that everything around you is horrible; it’s easy to sulk in your misery when you’ve convinced yourself that it’s not up to you; and it’s easy to put a barrier between you and the place you live in.  According to Dr. John Gottman, who did a lot of research on marriages, a marriage stands very little chance of surviving if these attitudes are present (for more information get Dr. Gottman’s book “The Seven Principles for Making Marriage Work”).  It’s the same for your relationship with a foreign place.  There is no way you are going to be happy where you live, if you consistently engage in criticism, sulking, and stonewalling.  So stay clear of those!  It’s not always easy, but it’s important.  And, if you need help with it, share.

This is now available as an on-line course at the Global Coach Center Academy here.

Copyright © 2009 by the Global Coach Center.  If you’d like to reprint this, please do so but make sure you credit us!

5 responses to “7 Behavior Choices of a Happy Expat

  1. I enjoyed reading your post.

    One piece of food for thought I always like to give to expats when things are tough….

    “Were you happy every single day in your home country or did you face challenges there too?”

    It helps putting emotions in perspective.

  2. Great tips! So true too! I’d also like to add that it’s important to put yourself out there and take chances, create a life for yourself outside of your work or whatever the main reason you’re living there is. Get out and really get connected with the culture and the people, become part of the community. It can work wonders toward making you a happy expat!

  3. Pingback: Three reasons to become an expatriate « “It was the best of times, it was the worst of times…” What was your expatriate experience like?

  4. Pingback: Culture Shock Revisited or Is It Really All About Going Through the Stages « “It was the best of times, it was the worst of times…” What was your expatriate experience like?

  5. I loved my life as an expat. I loved the challenges and daily adventures. If my husband hadn’t of turned into a wannabe sexpat it would have been the perfect world.

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