Falling In Love With Portugal

As I embark on my second week of being a digital nomad, my journey has brought me from Paris to a coastal town of Porto, Portugal. This place is one of the most historical and oldest European centers, where Dom Henrique also known as Henry the Navigator was born and set out his voyage to discoveries. Porto as the heart of Portugal holds countless significance.

As a country, Portugal is also a fascinating one. Despite being a small country and not as rich as its northern neighbors, Portuguese were courageous risk takers. About 300 years ago, some of the bravest explorers such as Ferdinand Magellan, Vasco da Gama, Bartholomeus Dias and more, charted new routes to new lands. Many of the great Portuguese explorers were credited for discovering over 70% of the word previously unknown to Europeans.

The word “Porto” itself means “getaway” in Portuguese, something that I found to be very interesting. Combined with previous inspiring facts, I couldn’t help but feel a sense of challenge. I was compelled to see things through new perspectives.

My Own Kind of Porto Getaway

As one can tell, downsizing life and becoming a digital nomad is not as easy task. I personally still have a “sea leg” when it comes to this lifestyle; Fear and anxiety are ever-present companions. At times, I find myself wondering

Why do I do this, you may ask? Well, the world is a chaotic and complex place so it’s hard to understand why. I can easily blame it to fate, or science, or saying “oh it’s just life”. But one thing I know for sure is this : we, as humans, crave order.

Hard-wired in our DNA and the way our brains function, we are creatures with millions of years of evolution. Yet, every high-order human social group enforces this craving for order in different forms. Religion, government, and even our parents encourage it through the use of scriptures, rules or laws, and even emotional manipulations.

When one is programmed so systematically and consistently, it’s almost impossible to get away from this social conditioning. But almost is not absolute, which is why I believe it’s important to rethink and always challenge everything we’ve been taught.

For many people, a crisis can cause a complete 180-degree turn in the course of their actions. For me though, traveling is it. Traveling is a way to break away from the norm. It forces you to adapt to new environments, languages, locations and people. It gets your brain out of the routines and rules, even encourage you to break them as you invent new approaches, challenge accepted beliefs, and rewrite the law.

Order is Perfection, But Anti Fragile is the Solution

With order, comes the desire for perfection. And the desire to be perfect creates an anti-fragile life, or so we thought.

The fact is quite the opposite. The pursuit of perfection more often leads to heartbreaks, vulnerability and our fragility. This is because as we chase perfection, we are exposed to feelings of inadequacy and insecurity. We shy away from our unique qualities and individuality, the things that make us, us.

Striving for perfection can be futile, simply cause it’s often unattainable. Before you know it, you’re flooded with frustrations, disappointments, stress and all the negative emotions.

On the other hand, an anti-fragile life is one that is able to thrive in the face of uncertainty and change. It is a life that is characterized by resilience, adaptability, and the ability to learn from adversity. To live an anti-fragile life, it's essential to focus on personal growth and development, and to accept imperfection and uncertainty as opportunities for learning and growth.

By adopting this mindset, we can build the resilience and adaptability needed to thrive in an ever-changing world. We must understand that perfection is a myth and embracing our imperfections is the key to living a fulfilling and anti-fragile life.

Understanding the Concept of Anti-Fragile

Anti-fragility is a concept introduced by Nassim Nicholas Taleb in his book "Antifragile: Things That Gain from Disorder".

He came up with the concept while working as a trader and risk analyst in the financial industry. In this line of work, he observed that many systems and entities that are considered "robust" or "resilient" actually suffer harm when they are exposed to shocks or stressors. He also noticed that some systems and entities actually benefit from these same shocks and stressors, becoming stronger and more adaptable as a result.

He realized that the traditional concept of "resilience" was not adequate to describe these systems, and began to develop the concept of anti-fragility as a more accurate way to describe the property of systems that actually gain from disorder.

To simplify the concept of “Anti-Fragile”, it refers to the ability of a system or entity to not only withstand stress and adversity, but to actually improve and become stronger as a result.

Why Anti-Fragile Is Hard To Grasp

The concept of anti-fragility is not a traditional one, and it can be hard for some people to understand or accept. It goes against the common understanding of resilience and robustness. It strays from the concept of systems that are strong and free from hard. Instead, it believes that systems can benefit from shocks or stressors.

Some people may also find it hard to differentiate which are the good and bad stressors - the trigger to building anti-fragility. Additionally, just how much is the level of stresses is needed also makes the idea of anti-fragile even harder to grasp.

Experts also argued that the concept of anti-fragile is too broad or not specific enough, making it inapplicable in most or some general cases. As such, it’s better to stick to building a resilient or robust system, rather than exposing it to stressors - even for the sake of strengthening it.

Becoming An Anti-Fragile Individual

I am open to the concept of anti-fragile as I can understand the idea behind it. Just like muscles in our body, sometimes stressors or pressures are needed in order to advance and build resilience.

The key to embrace the idea and apply it to our benefit can be simplified into identifying good stressors and grow from them. When you’re able to differentiate stressors, you will find out that some fear or stress when conquered actually set you up for greater success and strength.

A few key ways to becoming an anti-fragile individuals are as follow:

  1. Embrace variability and uncertainty. Anti-fragile systems are able to adapt and thrive in unpredictable environments. Instead of trying to eliminate all uncertainty, seek out new challenges and opportunities for growth.

  2. Build redundancy into your systems. Redundancy means having multiple ways of achieving the same goal, so that if one way fails, you have backups. This can help prevent catastrophic failure and increase resilience.

  3. Be willing to take calculated risks. Anti-fragile systems are able to withstand and learn from failure. This means being willing to try new things and make mistakes, as long as the potential rewards outweigh the potential costs.

  4. Cultivate robustness and resilience. In addition to being anti-fragile, it's also important to be robust and resilient. This means having the strength and flexibility to withstand stress and adversity, and to bounce back quickly when faced with challenges.

Overall, becoming anti-fragile requires a combination of mental agility, flexibility, and a willingness to take calculated risks. By embracing uncertainty and building robustness and resilience into your systems, you can improve your ability to withstand stress and adversity, and to thrive in the face of change.

Just remember that anti-fragility is about resisting shocks and leveling up due to all the stress. When done right, the antifragile gets better.