February 6, 2023

5 Ways to Live a Life of Contentment, Balance & Gratitude.

My daily life in rural Scotland is grounded in awareness, gratitude, and nature.

Each day, I gaze out over the sparkling blue waters and the uncountable mountains along the opposite shore. The sky is a spectacle of distinctive sunrises, funny or interesting cloud formations, bright or faded blue skies, and sunsets playing in purple, peach, and orange haze.

Sometimes the rain is so thick over the sea that I only see a milky mass when I look out the window.

Initially, my motivations for moving to Scotland were a job that gives back to the planet (tree planting), a different experience, and a way to improve my English. After a two-month break back in Hungary, I returned to Scotland for love. I had a comfortable and relatively predictable life in Hungary, but it left me feeling empty and depressed like I was living my life for someone else. I didn’t realize the extent to which capitalist consumerism (“rat race”) and a traumatic relationship had come to define my identity. By then, I basically lost myself.

Moving away from that was a form of personal decolonization if you will. In Scotland, I work fewer hours and have tons of free time, like I never had before in my adult life. As a longtime yoga practitioner and teacher, I find it natural to integrate mindfulness into my daily life here.

Living here has taught me countless lessons, the five most relatable, I’ll share with you today:

1. The value of wonder and contentment.

I lived here with my boyfriend in a caravan, in an intentional community, in a teepee tent, a bunkhouse, and now I’m house-sitting a dream home by the sea. Wherever we went, we were surrounded by birdsong, vivid wildflowers, and lots of greenery. Cuckoos, deer, vultures, sea eagles, and sometimes even dolphins show up around us. These splendid surroundings invite wonder into the mundane, as do the people. Scots are generally kind, openhearted, and content folks. Many of them are downright jovial with bright and genuine smiles. Life in rural Scotland with its lush fields, idyllic scenery, warm people, and never-ending learning opportunities is a life of wonder and contentment.

Where do you find wonder and contentment in your life? Where you live?

2. Slow down and seek balance.

Life seems to move at a slower pace here. This might be annoying at first for a person who is accustomed to a fast-paced, busy, and even overscheduled lifestyle. At first, it was hard to integrate this slow lifestyle. I was used to only having this much free time when I was on vacation. School had occupied my life for years, then work. When I went on vacation, a tremendous amount of time fell into my lap and I tried to squeeze in as many experiences as possible. I realized I do not have to do this now and I could relax.

I enjoy the slow flow of everyday life and have embraced my current lifestyle as a quasi-hermit. I’ve learned how to balance getting things done and being present with what I’m doing in each moment. I achieve this by engaging in part-time and freelance work that I’m passionate about, and by making plenty of time for things that fill me up. And if one day I do not get anything done, I’m okay with it.

How could you slow down the pace of your life?

3. Live with gratitude and appreciate what you have.

I used to cook at least once a day and ate as healthy and organic as possible. It was easy in a big city like Budapest because there were five big grocery stores around me, several smaller ones, and even nonstop mini-stores where I could get whatever I needed. Living out of a backpack in rural Scotland, where there’s not always a big variety of food (especially gluten-free), you have to travel to get your groceries. Living in a tent with a single camping stove has taught me to be more mindful with my meals and has made me really appreciate what I have.

Doing work exchange had a big role in helping me learn to appreciate more of what I do have. It’s a great uncertainty when you have to move on after a few weeks and you do not know where you will go next or what will be there for you when you arrive. It takes trust in the Universe that things will work out, and when everything turns out well, sometimes, I tear up from gratitude when I think about it.

How can you show more appreciation for the things and opportunities in your life?

4. Live in sync with your natural rhythms.

I no longer use an alarm clock unless I have to get up early to catch the ferry or have temporary work. I wake up naturally now, often with the sun or the song of birds (it varies from 5:00 am to 9:00 am) and I go to sleep when I’m tired (which is, usually around 10:00 p.m.). I nap if I feel tired during the day. I get up and read, write, or go for a walk and stargaze if I can’t sleep in the middle of the night.

How can you live in a more natural way, more connected to nature and your rhythms?

 5. Make peace with passing things.

I feel incredibly lucky to be here and to live this life, but living on the road and traveling made me realize that not everything lasts forever. In fact, most things last for a relatively short time. Living on a visa with an expiry date puts an end to things, and if I want to experience more and see other parts of the country, I have to move on, even if I love where I am. But that is all right; to move on is the natural flow of life—things and people will pass you by.

How can you make peace with the flow of life?


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