The question I had the most fun answering when meeting someone for the first time is, “when are you going back home?” Usually, I would start with a short pause, depending on where I was, my answer would never be the same. For the most part, it went something like this: “I am home. Here, this place, this country is my home for now.”
This would lead to the beginning of a new friendship. One that involved sharing each other’s life experiences, our desires, our frustrations, our beliefs, our different backgrounds, our hopes and dreams…
Many of you probably already know that for the past year, I have been traveling across South America. I have lived in five different countries, moving from country to country with absolutely everything I own in one suitcase. Now, having taken some time to visit family and friends back in Canada, it would be a good time to share with you some “awakening” life lessons on my traveling journey.
1. Everyone Has Something Special That Is Uniquely Theirs. Deep Within, We All Have The Same Needs
We are separated by visas and passports everywhere we go around the world. All the different culture, different languages, different religions and political views, do not make any difference if we are able to put all these things aside and just pay attention to the individual. We all have the need for love and a sense of feeling valued.
The difference is the way we choose to fulfill those needs based on how we define ourselves through our experiences in life, the way we communicate and react in response to a given situation.
2. Live In The NOW. Tomorrow May Never Come
Stop, take a deep breath and SMILE! Do it now, smile at the next person you walk by:) This is probably the biggest lesson I learned, that’s right, just saying, “hello, have a great day,” even to a total stranger.
We are so caught up in what our future should look like or all the reasons why we are not where we want to be now, that we have created the belief that saying hello to a stranger is an “unacceptable” behavior.
Many people spend so much time worrying about what’s next, they never really enjoy the progress they have made along the way. It is never enough, or they just give up. Yes, it is important to pursue your goals, don’t put off living.
3. You Are Not RICH By The Things You Own.
I have interacted with people who live with so much less than we have. Some of which, to most of us, are impossible to live without like hot water or electricity. They seem to be much happier than us, you realize that they are truly Rich. A wealth that goes way beyond anything we could imagine unless we actually experience it.
These people do not compete with one another, do not seek approval or recognition from others. They get together, help each other and share everything of the LITTLE that they have. Let me tell you, they sure know how to dance! Now, it is not to say that we need to get rid of all those things. We do live in a different culture and have different needs. There is a liberation, a freedom in being able to let go of ALL the non-essentials from our lives. We will define ourselves for who we really are rather than seeking approval in society through our possessions.
4. What You Know Is NOT All There Is To Know.
All that you know, all that you have been taught to be real, just might be wrong!
Growing up, we were taught to follow rules and have so many expectations set on us coming from all angles of our society. We live in a fast pace society, it is almost impossible to meet all these expectations. Because of this, we feel ashamed, burying our true value deep inside. Something very interesting ends up happening. When we meet people with different values, different cultures, we tend to compare. We believe that our beliefs, our standards and quality of life are the best way. We try to prove to ourselves that we have a better life than other people. If we set out to learn about their ways, we will gain so much knowledge about who we are and everything there is to know.
5. You Only Have Control Over Your Own Actions
I remember taking a walk in the city with a friend in Valparaiso, Chile. We came to a funicular that took us up to a look out of the whole city. He explained that the funicular was functional five days a week. It was not on a fixed schedule, so, you never knew which two days it was closed. The same thing was true for withdrawing money from a bank machine. He added, “you have to be flexible in this city, accept that you don’t have any control on these things. You only can control your reactions towards these situations.”
Now, imagine if we trained ourselves to focus on setting our goals on what we can control that are not dependent on others? We tend to set our goals over things that we do not have any control; Recognition from our boss, a friend or family’s approval, a promotion, etc. When we do not get the response we focused on, we are disappointed, angry or frustrated. Instead, if we set our goals in our own personal performance, our own actions, we will be a lot more successful in achieving our best. If we stop competing with what others are doing, focus on what we have to offer and improve, you can never be disappointed and will be excited when you achieve them.
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