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5 Happiness Hacks for Expats in Barcelona

5 Happiness Hacks for Expats in Barcelona

Happiness is a practice and is merely one of many, many feelings we experience in our days. We cannot expect infinite happiness, and nor should we. We know that other, less comfortable, emotions such as anger or sadness, grief, anxiety, etc serve as alarm systems, cautioning us about our thought patterns, situations, or behaviours that we may do well to leave or change.

However, in our daily lives, we can enhance our capacity for happiness. This potential to improve our reach for happiness can make all the difference for expats. When thrust in to a life coloured with patches of discomfort, loneliness, culture shock, annoyance and loss, little rays of happiness can help you last the distance in your host country.

So, here are 5 happiness hacks for expats in Barcelona.

  1. Schedule Pleasant Activities. Make time to do enjoyable things, even when you are not feeling motivated or feel that pleasure has slipped from your grasp. What’s your idea of pleasant? What was it before you started feeling down? Make a list and have it on hand to fulfil daily. Visit a new place in Barcelona. Try cooking a new, perhaps Catalan, dish. Visit a local market and immerse yourself in the sights, sounds, and smells. Enjoy a cup of tea. Knit. Colour in. Browse a store. Walk up and down Passeig de Gracia and admire the Modernista architecture. Find a local course in trencat (tile mosaics), sculpture, wine tasting. DIY home spa. Go for a good old walk on the beach. Catch a train to Montgat or Sitges.
  2.  Practice Gratitude. Neuroscience says we would do well to put ourselves on high alert for the things we can be grateful for throughout our day. Feeling grateful improves physical and mental health and creates greater sensitivity to future opportunities for gratitude. Get an old school journal, use an app, or just think about 3 things you are grateful for every evening. It also pays to ask:”What am I looking forward to tomorrow?
  3. Set Small, Easy to Achieve Goals. Go post a letter. Find that ingredient you love but is hard to find in regular stores in Barcelona. Learn how to say a new phrase. Watch a movie in Spanish or Catalan. Go for a small walk everyday. Visit one museum a month. Go to one MeetUp a month.
  4. Cultivate Your Love of Barcelona. When the culture shock sets in and the honeymoon period is over, you will need to work hard on your relationship with Barcelona and its people. Read books like: Barcelona by Robert Hughes; or Barcelona by Michael Euade, Homage to Catalonia by George Orwell or the other Homage to Catalonia by Colm Tobin. If fiction is more your thing, try The Cathedral of the Sea; The Shadow of the Wind; or The Time of the Doves. Make a list of things you love about Barcelona and approach her with acceptance of what she and her people are, not of how they “should” be. Also, drop the comparisons with home – take on the mantras “everything is welcome” and “it’s just different here.”
  5. Connect. Maintain your supports from home via technology. Be intentional. Set times to speak to your people, but not too much! Make connections in Barcelona. Join Meetups, reach out on Facebook groups for expats in Barcelona and start some classes. Also, frequent the same cafe and shops in your neighbourhood so that the people in your little patch of Barcelona get familiar and friendlier with you over time. 

You can do this!

Be kind to yourself and reach out if you need a hand with your adjustment to Barcelona.

Therapy in Barcelona can help.

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