If there’s one thing I’ve learned about the world of travel, it’s the immense power it has to change our perspectives on life. When you travel more – that is, spending a good deal of time experiencing or living in another country, you can’t help but expose yourself to a wild array of perspective altering things that can change and expand your entire view of life and the world.
Do you know the world you live in?
We live in a time in history where the world is smaller than it has ever been. Unlike most of human history we in the 21st century have been granted great opportunities to travel and visit any part of the world we desire. This gift is something people would have dreamed of for countless years in the past with no way to bring it into realization. Being lucky enough to live in this time of history do you really want to go your whole life without experiencing the amazing planet you live on?
There is no way to know and understand another part of the world without experiencing it for yourself first hand. You can watch the news, look at pictures, read stories and ask others their about their travels but until you’ve been somewhere yourself, and tasted the foods, smelled the smells, felt the atmosphere, experiences the culture and learned from the locals there’s no way to really know a place.
Just as with the infamous Durian fruit, people can describe its strange smell and taste to you all you want, but you’ll never know it until you try. When you come to truly know and experience another country your perspective about it will shift and you may be surprised how the preconceived ideas you had about the place don’t hold up to the real experience.
The differences are real and powerful
Before experiencing another country it’s easy to assume that the differences you will encounter will be limited to the differences between your cultures.
A mistake I made when coming to China was assuming the differences I’d encounter would be limited to things like the foods, the hobbies, the festivals, the traditions, and the attitudes of the people… These were all things I could see if I watched movies or looked at pictures about the country I was visiting. What I missed however were the stark differences in the mindsets of the people when it came to nearly every aspect of life.
The way the people thought about things was so much more different than I had expected. The mindsets towards relationships, friendships, romance, jobs, animals, health, society and so much more were so vastly different I had to learn new ways of thinking to understand them. This learning and understanding provides a fresh perspective on areas of life you had completely taken for granted as the ‘only way’
At first as you learn these new ways of thinking you make judgments about how strange and ‘wrong’ they seem but over time as you come to understand them you realize some of their mindsets may be more powerful and beneficial to you and you are then free to incorporate these fresh perspectives into your world view.
Perspectives on what’s possible in life
When you remain in your own country your view of what’s possible to do with your life is limited to that which surrounds you. My good friend once told me that travelling had opened up the whole world to her. After working in another country for a year her limited worldview had been erased and she felt as if a new world of opportunities had opened up for her. She was free to experience many more countries, and work in each for as long as she wanted, seeing and experiencing whatever she desired. She said before travelling this kind of thing would have seemed impossible to her. She really just didn’t realize these sort of opportunities existed.
As you travel you’ll make friends from all over the world and learn about countless opportunities for your life. Your perspectives on what’s possible will expand and the entire world will feel like your home.
Perspectives on what’s important in life
A big one for me after travelling Thailand was the shift in my perspective on what’s important in life. The Thai people are very poor compared to North American standards but they seem so much more genuinely happy and friendly than we do back home. There is a relaxation to their lives, they enjoy spending time with each other, telling jokes, playing silly games, just having fun. They have so much less, but they don’t feel anything is missing, where as in North America it’s as if we are always striving to attain something more to fill some sort of whole.
When you travel you can feel as if you have no possessions except the clothes in your backpack. This can help you shift your perspective on material possessions, and give you a sense of freedom in the world.
For me this experience reinforced that age old saying that “the best things in life are free” I felt the joys of playing games of volleyball on the beach, hiking to a viewpoint with friends, exploring a cave, watching the stars at night, connecting with others in a good conversation, creating music, and simply appreciating the world all around me.
When you sit under the stars on a beautiful beach with good friends and a nice melody in the background, you realize you don’t need anything else to be happy. There’s no need to slave your life away at a stressful job to buy a bigger house and a nicer car… the important things in life don’t have a price tag.
The lasting changes
When you return home after travelling you begin to notice how your perspectives on the world have changed. You see the world around you, the places, the people, the mindsets, and all the things you took for granted before with fresh eyes.
After returning home you can’t help but realize how much there is to be appreciative for. If you visited a troubled country the little problems in your life will seem less important. If you visited a poor country, you’ll be much more grateful for the things and money you have. If you worked as an English teacher you’ll greatly appreciate how nice it was to be born in an English speaking country.
When you return home things will be the same, but you yourself will be different. On the surface you might have new favorite foods, newfound courage, new hobbies, a new lust for adventure, and new social skills. But underneath you’ll also have altered perspectives, fresh ideas, new mindsets, an expanded awareness and you’ll know the world that much better.
As you travel, somewhere amidst all the partying and wild nights and unforgettable experiences your perspectives will begin to change and your mind will be expanded as a result. As your awareness expands and you learn more about the world, you will free yourself from many of the limiting mindsets you used to have about your life.
This is one of travelling’s greatest gifts and is one of the best reasons to get out there and travel more!
Written by Devin Licastro. Learn more about Devin and his thoughts on personal development through travel on his website, Travel To Grow, and connect with him on Twitter.