Spend any extended amount of time in Spain and you’ll likely walk away having learned two of life’s important lessons: how to live in the moment and how not to sweat the small things.
Spaniards are famed for their friendly and relaxed attitude, and their commitment to always putting family and friends first means life becomes fabulously freewheeling. You quickly learn there’s always time for a chat with a friend…no matter how late you might be running or what other plans you might have had in mind.
In fact, the best-laid plans are often ditched at a moment’s notice.
Like the Saturday morning I popped to the local markets to grab some fresh vegetables, planning to fill the rest of my afternoon with errands. I happened to bump into two friends and soon found myself sharing a beer on the sunny terrace of a local cafeteria, before we added four more friends to our soirée and headed off to the beach.
I returned home just before midnight—my errand list still a mile long—but feeling happier than ever at how unexpectedly beautiful my day had turned out.
Funny thing is, two of those friends were expats, just like me. Spain attracts expats. The easygoing lifestyle here is incredibly infectious and you soon find yourself abandoning the scheduled mindset of home and just going with the flow.
Life becomes infinitely more social when you know there’s a caña (small glass of beer) and a laugh with friends waiting at the end of each day. Because these kinds of lazy, spur-of-the-moment catch-ups really are an almost daily affair.
Walk around at 10 p.m. on almost any night of the week and you’ll find bars and street benches packed with chattering friends, young and old, as Spaniards get out of the house and enjoy each other’s company. This zest for life is irresistible and you can’t help but follow suit.
Spaniards are famed for running late and you’ll likely find yourself twiddling your thumbs for a while if you arrive punctually for appointments, as I do when I’m interviewing someone for an article (I work as a freelance travel writer). The general rule is add half an hour to any fixed meeting time because someone—and often everyone—is likely to be running behind time.
And that’s how you learn not to sweat the little things. Taking cues from the Spanish, you learn to relax and let go, realizing that it’s probably not the end of the world.
If that fails, your huge network of friends will always come to the rescue, changing their plans at the drop of a hat to join you for a conciliatory caña until you’re singing the praises of la buena vida—the good life—once more.
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