Throughout the last 2 years I have been to Asia and back four times now. I am here to admit that traveling can be overwhelmingly frustrating. It can truly get the best of you. You will see sides of yourself that you did not even know could possibly exist. And once you experience yourself in this light, you will shamefully hope that it never bellows out of you again.
[ Even if you are not a traveler, keep reading. Our minds and emotions live on a rollercoaster on a daily basis. Imagine yourself on your best and worst days. How do you treat people? How do you react? Do you remain calm in stressful and irritating situations or do you let your reactions get the best of you? Sometimes I am rather disgusted by the words that come out of my mouth or the lack thereof. You may not be ashamed by yours at all. You may not even be noticing them. ]
Picture this. It’s quite a normal situation actually.
You finally step foot off of that 20 hour long journey — hungry, tired, agitated, and bewildered.
Whether its a boat, train, or a bus, your journey was most likely delayed at least 3 hours, but alas you arrive! Once you begin to think “Yes, I’m finally free,” your first pleasant thought is quickly shattered and interrupted.
Upwards of about 30 men bombard you - they shout, grab your bag, and ask to take you to your destination in their taxi.
Your emotions roar before you even start the battle between getting ‘ripped off’ and finding an even price or choosing a trusty companion.
You talk to people in a way you never imagined you would. There will be times where you will simply lose it if one more person tries to sell you a sarong, tuk tuk, or an elephant ride.
I am not talking about cussing somebody out in your own foreign language, which I have seen happen.. I am talking about avoiding eye contact, ignoring that a human being is talking to you, and I am talking about letting all of your anger out on the wrong person.
But let me tell you this..
Nothing has bothered me more while traveling than watching the way that I would react during times of frustration.
Second to that, I am most disturbed watching the way that other travelers respond to their surroundings and treat human beings.
This is not, however, a post on how to treat humanity. This is meant to become a discussion on leveling your mind to avoid these states of being completely. Although these thoughts are from a traveler’s point of view, they are relevant for all.
I have never been a person who gets agitated easily. I have always tried to ‘do unto others as I would have them do unto me.’ I noticed that wasn’t always the case..
I began to develop a new mindset. It really all stemmed from surviving a Vipassana meditation course, which I do recommend for just about everybody. I started to observe all of my thoughts and responses. From this, my behaviors have changed in all walks of life.
Here are a few things that I’ve realized about the mind:
*While reading this, please keep in mind that these are simply the lectures I give myself... and sometimes, I listen.
1. Set your mind straight.
It is all in the mindset.
Before you even interact with another individual, notice where you are mentally.
You are in control of your emotions and you should always be in control of the way that you make others feel.
Give yourself a little chit chat.
Pause and think before you open your mouth.
Even in a debacle, what is the point in leaving the other person feeling miserable?
Does it actually get you anywhere?
Does it actually make you feel any better?
Does this person deserve to feel wrong, humiliated, and belittled?
How do you feel when somebody belittles you?
For your own sake, sanity, and livelihood, set your mind straight.
It will become a much lighter, happier, and healthier world for you.
All in all, any situation you are in, observe your mind.
Follow your thoughts without any judgment.
Just recognize that you are not in your best mindset and figure out what it will take to get there before you cast these dooms onto anybody else.
Because - when you do walk away from a situation where you treated somebody in a way that you don't agree with, you end up feeling like shit. End of story, do it for yourself. We are all full of the same energy so if you send love to others, you will in turn feel the love.
2. Happiness is perspective. It is a choice. It is a way of life.
Happiness is such a relative state of being. It doesn’t depend on what you have, where you are, or whom you are with. It depends entirely on what is going on inside of you.
You can live the same scenario as somebody else. One may have the best life in the world, the other may be entirely miserable.
Watch the way that you look at things. If you are on this journey and it lasts 3 extra hours and slowly develops into a tumultuous 20-hour trip, then alter the way that you are thinking about it.
Change your thoughts.
If you are sitting in traffic getting angered by every single individual who passes you, start singing your favorite song and notice every ounce of beauty that you drive by.
When you sit back and observe your situation, slap yourself into reality a bit.
You will realize that you are the luckiest son of a hardworking individual to be able to experience these annoyances. They are typically so very miniscule.
Take a look around. Turn your thinking into how grateful you are.
Look around at those less fortunate and give yourself a bit of perspective.
Close your eyes and breathe. Examine these thoughts and emotions deep within yourself.
Think of everything you have in life that makes you happy.
Push yourself to optimism.
After a while, it won't be so forced. You will become aware of your mindset and then change it.
3. Patience is learning to live in the moment and enjoy the ride.
Mmm.. this is a big one you learn while traveling.
It should seem obvious that it is all about the adventure while you are in a foreign country, but really these all relate to our regular everyday lives.
Whether you are standing in the grocery store at home or you are sitting on that 20-hour train ride, it is all the same.
Patience is the difference between a magnificent experience and a miserable disaster.
Learn to live in your mind. Learn to entertain your thoughts.
Observe those around you and come up with a story in your head.
Better yet, TALK with these people, experience; get to know the humans surrounding you.
Observe. Write. Read. Write down a list of everything you could possibly dream of doing in your lifetime. Breathe. Write down a list of everything you like about yourself and everything you don’t. Figure out how to change those aspects of yourself that no longer serve you.
Get on the inside when you have no say on the outer scenario.
Accept the fact that you have no control over the amount of time you will spend in this situation.
Acknowledge that you do have complete power over how that time will be spent.
4. Unmet expectations are the root of disappointment.
The main complaint that I hear about Americans while traveling is that we always complain. That or that we are arrogant, uneducated about the world, and quite obnoxious at times.. Oh and did I mention our politics? Gun control? Education system? Healthcare?
Buuuut anyway… lets get back to the complaints. It’s obviously not an American thing. It is humanity, or perhaps the western way of life?
If we set our expectations at any certain level and they are not met, immediately our happiness begins to deplete.
You could be presented with the most extraordinary hotel room, a nice clean double bed with a hot shower and even shampoo on the sink, and you could still be disappointed. (Oh what I would do for a room like this most nights..)
If you were expecting to have wifi as fast as your home office or Redken shampoo and moisturizing conditioner stocked in the bath, then yes your expectations were unmet. You are now unhappy.
On the other hand, if you had no expectations whatsoever, you may notice the squishy pillow and the nice water pressure instead of the “downfalls.”
I have numerous examples that are more practical for my line of travel..
You presume that there will be toilet paper in the bathroom. Perhaps you even assume that you will be using a regular western toilet as opposed to a hole in the ground.
For some strange reason you may even expect that you will have your own bed on a night bus only to find out that a stranger will be cuddled up next to you.
All of these are simply presumptions based on what you have known before but you are indeed in another country. There are different standards and varying norms.
Isn’t that the point of it all? To try new things and to live a different way..
Traveling aside, try to avoid setting expectations because a delightful surprise is much better than a letdown.
If you find yourself with some unmet expectations, learn to laugh about it. I am sure that the time will pass and it will be a comical memory soon enough.
In the grand scheme of things, it is most likely not that big of a deal.
5. SMILE. Then, you will become happy.
The best way to set your mind straight is to give yourself a smile.
Open that mouth and curl your dimples up. You will just become happy.
If that doesn’t work, look for a child. Let their radiating smile project onto your frown.. It will put you just where you need to be.