Over the first five months of my time living in Waterford, my greatest takeaway has not been about basketball. It has involved the Irish approach to family, work, and wellness. On its surface, this statement sounds obvious, given that anyone who lives abroad for an extended period of time will identify differences in cultural norms and habits. But there’s something unique about the Irish way of life that I’ve noticed since I arrived in Belfast on August 20th.
Irish citizens do not tend to worry about what many Americans lose sleep over. From the families I’ve encountered to the teammates I play with, the people here have a unique approach towards life and happiness. In general, Irish citizens do not worry or speak about their image, salary, or achievements. They rarely compare themselves to their peers. These people are most concerned with the bare essentials, including a stable job, time with family, and a healthy work-life balance. This reality has become evident through my interaction with children, parents, and teammates. The vast majority of people here are genuine, outgoing, and more than willing to help if I need anything.
This mindset is not nearly as alive in the United States. From teenagers in public schools to adults in the workforce, many Americans tend to be enamored with their status in comparison to others. We are privy to this reality each day through competitive work environments, sports teams, and the United States government. The American mindset is conducive to competition, maximizing wealth, and elevating your status above contemporaries. Many people I’ve grown up with, competed against, or attended college with are obsessed with their reputation and status. This mindset manifests itself in the socioeconomic landscape. And over the last five months, I’ve realized for the first time in my life that this approach to wealth and prosperity does not create a healthy mindset, especially for young adults.
To conclude, my experience living in Ireland has opened my eyes to a more refreshing, healthy, and enjoyable lifestyle – one that revolves around family, friends, and stability.