Sunday, January 11, 2015

3 Realizations After 7 Months of Travel

One of my very favorite things about travel is the perspective it brings. I always pay close attention to my observations and thoughts when I arrive home after a long journey. While travel itself can teach amazing things, it's learning how those new truths fit in with everyday life that will allow them to really change your life.

Here are three realizations I made during my travels. (This pertains mostly to my life as an American, since that is where I came from and returned home to.)

1. We live in a land of milk and honey.

Wow. America has it all! Any type of food you can imagine at any time of the year (and at affordable prices), clean and FREE public toilets that are always stocked with ample amounts of toilet paper, safe and free drinking water, hot showers, working electricity, smooth roads, reliable public transportation, temperature controlled rooms. These are things that Americans take for granted and the rest of the world would die happy just to experience for a month.

I've found it more difficult to sympathize with small complaints from people around me. Even some of the poorest people in America live much better lives than the typical family in Nepal, Laos, or India. America is a land of wealth. 

2. We confuse comfort for success.

Americans place a lot of value on comfort. The depths some people will go to to ensure they have enough leg room on a two-hour flight or enough water for a short journey is quite appalling, to be honest. The human body and spirit is able to endure quite a lot of discomfort and I think it would do well for many Americans to experience a seven-hour second-class train ride in India with no A/C. I've observed that living a life of constant comfort can create a sense of entitlement and unhappiness. Occasional discomforts remind us how good we have it.

3. We are not living up to our potential.

I met a lot of people in places like Laos, Nepal, and India who would give anything for the chance to visit America. I recall one bus ride when I mentioned to a local Nepalese teenager that I was born in America. He replied in the most sincere tone with the most intent eyes: "You're so lucky."

Anyone with American citizenship is lucky. The opportunities given to us are vast and limitless, if we work hard.

The key is to work hard. To not complain. To be grateful for what we have and make the most of the life we've been given. If we have this mentality, there's no end to the things we can accomplish. 


Lindsy Hartsock said...

Love this. A great read to remind myself of the importance or gratitude and a positive perspective today. Thank you for sharing!

Melanie said...

Can't not comment. This is so awesome. What a great reminder; I think we all need to read this post...over and over again!

Brendon said...

So glad you posted this. So many things to consider.

I've been thinking lately about the miracle of the grocery store and how amazing it is that at any given moment I can walk in and get anything I want (and when an item isn't stock at the store, I feel highly inconvenienced).

Hopefully I can learn from your perspective and be more grateful for everything!


Lee Sydney said...

not just americans. everyone who isnt in poverty need to realise these!