Travel, is it just about checking places off your list and taking your I was here photo, or is it about something more?
For me, for the past 15 years, travel has been a story of personal enrichment.
It’s how I’ve learned about the world: it’s natural wonders, diverse cultures, history, and traditions. But, more importantly, it is how I’ve learned to discover who I really am and how I fit within the greater world. I believe this discovery helps us to become more balanced, whole and appreciative of all living things and our interconnectedness.
Here are 55 lessons I have learned from my life of travel that have helped me to grow into, what I think, is a person who lives an empowered life.
1. Deep down the essence of who we are as human beings is the same. This is all that matters. The outside differences are there to learn from and celebrate without fear.
2. There is absolute joy and wonder to be had in the simplest of moments: swinging in a hammock on the beach while watching the sunset over the horizon, for example.
3. The more we own, the more enslaved we become.
4. Fulfillment comes from memorable moments and loving relationships, not stuff.
5. Negotiation, business transactions and even personal relationships should always be conducted with the mutual belief in it being a win-win result.
6. The more you help others, the more you get in return.
7. A smile, a wave, and a friendly attitude can break down any barrier and create friendships where language isn’t understood.
8. Kindness is a universal language.
9. You are powerful beyond measure. You never know what you are capable of until you push your barriers of comfort, even if it’s just a little bit each day.
10. Fear can be a guiding friend if you learn how to swallow it, and listen to it only when it serves its true purpose of warning you when you are in danger.
11. Mother Nature knows everything. Turn to her more to help ease your medical discomforts and your mental anguishes.
12. When things frighten you, the best way to do what needs to be done is “1… 2… 3… jump!” Don’t give yourself time to talk yourself out of it.
13. The purpose of life is to live in joy and through love.
14. Life is constantly changing. Setting up rigid rules and expectations will leave you disappointed.
15. Don’t over plan. Jump in the boat and let the river take you for an amazing ride. You will get to the ocean eventually and it will be way more fun.
16. Don’t be afraid to speak to strangers, the majority of them are out to help you, not hurt you.
17. People are generally good.
18. Never let society, or other people determine how you should live your life. Only you know what is best for you
19. Question everything until you understand it. Never just believe or accept because that is the way it’s done.
20. You will never stop learning until you stop living.
21. God wants you to have a happy life and does not want you to suffer. But your happiness is up to you.
22. God lives in everything. You don’t need to go to a church or a temple, or pray five times a day to find her. You just need to know yourself and pay attention to what’s happening around you.
23. Miracles surround you every day. Open your eyes and rejoice.
24. There are no problems, only challenges, and solutions.
25. Everything happens for a reason and it all works out in the end.
26. Climbing a mountain is really about the journey. You’ll remember this more than the fleeting view at the end, which sometimes can’t even be seen due to the low lying clouds.
27. Silence and stillness is something to befriend. Let go of the need to fill it with empty words or actions.
28. Believe in what you celebrate and celebrate what you believe in.
29. Lie on a remote beach under the night sky, look at the curvature of the earth and gaze with wonder at the stars. Spend time appreciating and understanding just how small you really are. You are not the centre of the Universe, yet still a very important, miraculous part of it. There is power in understanding how small you really are.
30. All living things are interdependent. Co-operate by finding your niche rather than competing. Be yourself—the world needs your particular talents.
31. You cannot have effective communication without listening. You have two ears and only one mouth for a reason.
32. Pay attention to non-verbal forms of communication. You will learn far more about what someone is trying to say when you listen to their body language, in addition to their words.
33. Hang around people who celebrate you not tolerate you.
34. The Earth is a living organism more powerful than us. Look after her. She will remove us if we threaten her existence.
35. Trust in your gut. It’s wiser than your head.
36. Dream big. Never allow your logical mind to talk you out of pursuing your dreams. Your dreams are made for you.
37. Your past does not matter, and you are not who you were in the past.
38. Your knowledge and experiences in life are not for you alone. They are of no use to you or anyone when they are trapped inside you. When you focus on sharing you will be amazed by the rewards that come back to be shared with you.
39. ‘This too shall pass’ is universally applicable to all situations in your life, both good and bad. Accept this, learn the lessons, have total gratitude for them, let them go and get ready for the new.
40. Worrying is a futile exercise.
41. If you don’t like something, you almost always have the power to change it—at least your response to it.
42. You are the controller of your own life. Take responsibility for your words, actions and choices. And then adjust them to enable you to move in the direction you wish to go.
43. There is power in pain – building strength and learning.
44. Change is good; it’s life’s natural state at any given moment.
45. The only place where life exists is NOW. Don’t wait until tomorrow or until everything is perfect. It never will be.
46. Enthusiasm, joy, awe and gratitude are our most powerful emotions.
47. When someone tells you that you can’t do something, what they usually mean is: “I can’t because I’m not willing to take a risk or put in the necessary effort.”
48. Excuses are limitations to our growth and experiences.
49. You don’t have to be rich to travel the world.
50. Most of the time the best experiences in life are free, or extremely low in cost.
51. There is nothing in the world that will get your heart racing more than a silverback charging at you. And while I wouldn’t recommend that experience specifically, make sure you live your life so your heart races on a regular basis. It means you’re pushing beyond your own limits.
52. Make your life a story to tell. Even most of the bad stuff becomes good when you think of the story it gives you to tell someday.
53. Life is not about finding yourself, it is about creating yourself.
54. Life is all about the memories. Go create them.
55. Never travel without an open mind. Never live without an open mind, it is the greatest gift for growth you can ever give to yourself and others.