Recently I retired to a small village in Panama. The choice of location was utilitarian. Dropping out of my support system would eliminate time consuming social obligations. bells and buzzers.
Living in a small village as the only American would give me time to pursue my long awaited desire to be a writer. I would have time and economic freedom which all proved true. However the isolation and lack of my normal support system forced me to “adapt” to the culture which is not much different than a small town in America, adding a dash of chile sauce and turning back the social clock 30 years does it. Not long after moving here I realized that maintaining my mental health would require a sort of forced adaptation to the culture. No one with a pulse can live in isolation for long.
My method was to say hello to everyone I encountered and listen to chatter with a look of patience and understanding. My Spanish was so lacking the it took me a year to truly understand the humor and humility of the people in the village. This made me realize that the simple act of recognizing people regardless of their social, economic, or intellectual capacity brought enormous rewards. Prior feelings of being an outsider or invader ceased and more importantly they embraced my acceptance of their culture. Simply accepting the importance of each individual as a part of a whole was a revelation to me, something that is now a part of my life.
I believe this simple act of having the patience, humility and tenacity to accept anyone as a worthwhile member of a larger social structure is a cost effective method of improving the world massively in small steps. If you need a tag for it call it Humility.