Has life ever felt stagnant? That you’re capable of so much more? That you need a change? If it’s any consolation, its a common thought, one which every person at some point or another has pondered.
Now you could have an iron will and accomplish it all sitting on your desk for 8 hours a day, 5 days a week, 251 days a year. Or at a cosy weekend barbeque perhaps? Or you could venture into unfamiliar territories and truly take a walk on the wild side. I talk from personal experience when I say that travel truly broadens the mind and opens the heart. Here’s why:
You learn that communication does not need words
How many times have you been exasperated that your words don’t convey what you want to tell the other person? Imagine yourself in a place where no one speaks the languages familiar to you. Scared? Put yourself on a bus in rural Cambodia with locals who don’t speak English and you don’t speak Khmer. How would you thank the driver with the prosthetic limb for taking you to your destination? Or ask the mud clad children to let you play football with them in rain? The feeling of content that spreads through you when you talk without words cannot be paralleled.
You realize happiness is not same as wealth
Wealth alone does not equal a good life. What matters more is how you spend it. You would be happier spending money on travel than on material goods. Experiences give you lasting pleasures than buying goods. The happiest people I have seen are the frail old monks living in huts next to the river Ganges in mountainous holy city of Rishikesh. Their lives are fulfilled with content – they feed off the land, nurse injured animals back to health and pray.
You see beauty where others don’t
“As you simplify your life, the laws of the universe will be simpler; solitude will not be solitude, poverty will not be poverty, nor weakness weakness.” ― Henry David Thoreau
Travel makes you humble. You realize that life is so much more than just focusing on your existence. You appreciate simple things in life. You applaud the beauty that resilience is when quench your thirst under a giant banyan tree on the convoluted mountain roads of Kandy, Sri Lanka – and see kindness in the wrinkled face and toothless grin of a 90 year old water seller whose not seen her husband, brothers, sons, nephews and grandsons since the civil war.
Your comfort zone gets bigger
Does atrophy petrify you? Rusting away to nothingness? But yet you can’t push yourself ? Trust me familiar and safe jobs, relationships, and situations lose their relevance once you embrace the unknown. Unfortunately if you never step out of your comfort zone you will never know what you are capable of. You might eat a snail or a boiled horses’ knee with vodka shots or you just canoe yourself into the pier – and live to tell the tale.
You unlearn your prejudices
You erase what your societal norms has force fed you. You ask questions, get answers and then question those answers. Your perspective changes in a strip bar in Manila where you learn that to understand that the 65 year old divorced man with the 22 year old girl is seeking what we all need – love, affection and admiration of another human being.
You revaluate things you take for granted
Too many chips, not enough dip? The tap you leave running while doing your dishes? You learn that the things you take for granted are things someone else prays for. You learn that the 18 year old girls in Thailand’s go-go bars are not doing this for fun; they have families in their villages whose daily meals depend on their daughters selling themselves.
Curiosity becomes a life-long habit
How do these people live? What are their belief systems? Why is the traffic on the opposite side of the road? You find that you can learn to be curious when you are in new situations. You trust yourself, you take chances. Out of this self belief stems the ability to keep an open mind to fresh ideas and thoughts. You don’t take things for granted and you get curious.