There are many ways to enrich our lives, learn important lessons and grow. Sometimes we do not get to choose the experiences that teach us, but often times we do. For me, traveling has been one of the greatest catalysts for my personal growth. It has taught me lessons that have shaped the course of my life and changed me for the better. If you have yet to travel, you may be wondering what you can gain from it, and the answer is a lot. Here are just a few things I have learned from my experience.
I Was a Pretty Ungrateful Person
We take so much for granted in our lives. Most of us living comfortable existences in developed areas with political stability, vast opportunity and all that other good stuff that comes from being born in the first world are pretty ungrateful about it. This is not because we are horrible people, it is simply because it is all we have ever known and we have never experienced the type of hardship that so many other people in the world face. Some of the problems people in other parts of the world deal with every day are completely unfathomable to us.
Once I started traveling, I began to see these hardships first hand, and it hit me like a ton of bricks how lucky I was to be born where I was; so many of my problems suddenly seemed so insignificant. I was constantly coming across people whose lives were so difficult, who were just focusing on mere survival day to day. While I certainly still have my moments of not fully appreciating my life circumstances, I am more conscious of this tendency and I have gotten a lot better at being grateful for all that I have.
We Can Always Choose How to View a Situation
Exploring the different parts of the world is amazing, but rife with challenges. Things are not like you expect, do not go according to plan, are not to your liking, or are beyond your understanding. You cannot have the sweet without the sour, and traveling is no exception. Having dealt with so many snafus during my journeys, I have finally begun to learn a lesson that has been touted by the wisest sages and self-help gurus—we can always choose our perspective.
This is not easy, and being human, we often choose one that increases our suffering and perpetuates our anger, frustration and sadness. I still choose poorly sometimes, but traveling gives me lots of opportunities to hone this skill and I am getting better all the time. Whether it is getting ripped off for an amount of money that only amounts to a few dollars, ending up in a hotel that looks nothing like the pictures or having to spend the next 15 hours on a ‘’luxury’’ bus that is anything but, stop and think about how you can view the situation in a different way, a way that helps quell the negative feelings bubbling up.
We Are Capable of So Much More Than We Know
Fear of the unknown, and stepping outside of our comfort zone, holds so many people back from pursuing their dreams or letting their true selves shine through. My life experience has taught me that most of the awesome stuff in life lies on the other side of uncomfortable decisions, no two ways about it. Traveling will constantly push you outside this zone, it will constantly put you in situations where you are forced to take actions you may feel hesitant to take. It has forced me to grow so much and I have done things I never thought I would have been able to do before I started traveling. It has given me a confidence that carries over into other areas of my life, and I am so much more open to trying new experiences.
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