Do you know the world you live in?
We live in the most interesting time in human history. The world is smaller than it has ever been, we’re blessed with opportunities to travel vast distances and experience other countries with ease and affordability. With all these amazing opportunities and blessings, it would be a waste to let your view of the world be limited to that of your own country.
You may watch the news and read books and look at pictures on the internet, but do you really know the world that you live in? I believe there’s no way to really understand a different land or a different culture without experiencing it for yourself first hand. Without seeing the sights, smelling the smells and tasting the tastes, you’ll only know the world from someone else’s perspective, and you’ll only form a limited preconception about the world in your mind. You’ll often find that through these experiences what you thought you knew gets thrown out the window and a whole new perspective of the culture, or people or even the world in general forms.
This article is about fresh perspectives attained through travel, but before we get into exactly how travel brings about fresh perspectives and exactly how that benefits someone, I want to take a second to refresh your perspective about something, without you even needing to leave your chair.
A fresh perspective on existence.
We have become too used to things. We get caught up in our daily lives, our goals, our problems and our routine habits and forget to stop and to once in a while really think about who we are and what this thing called life is.
The fact that you are merely reading this article is mind boggling, let’s think about it for a second.
We exist in a universe that’s estimated at 14 billions years old on a planet called Earth which is spinning at about 1,100 mph, and revolving around the sun at around 67,000 mph. That sun with our solar system is spinning around the milky way galaxy at 560,000 mph and our entire galaxy is moving at about 670 000 mph in the local group of galaxies… how weird is that?
There’s a bunch of things that could have been wrong that would have made life on earth impossible. If the earth was too big or too small the gravity would be unlivable, if we were a little closer or further from the sun, it would be too hot or too cold. If we didn’t have Jupiter in our solar system with its immense gravity our chances of being hit by large asteroids that could wipe out life would be much higher. What if the earth didn’t spin at the speed it does? We could have years of light and darkness or mere minutes. What if our axis was different? We would have extreme seasons of hot and cold.
What if the laws of physics were different? What if the speed of which things heated and cooled was different? It could be impossible to heat up food quick enough, or a hot drink could cool to room temperature in seconds. What if we didn’t have the electromagnetic field we do, what if using electricity was impossible?
It’s so interesting to think we evolved from single celled organisms over millions of years. We live on a planet that was once inhabited by dinosaurs! How cool is it that the world contains millions of different species, and new ones are being discovered all the time, especially in the ocean. We humans are also the only ones who evolved the intelligence to be able to create and use technology, and with this technology we can connect instantly with people across the planet! And what about coming into this world itself, isn’t it weird that we are brought here by being born from our mothers after a microscopic sperm and egg came together?
What about the intangible things like love, or consciousness? What is consciousness? Who is the observer of your thoughts? What created the universe? …the big bang? What created the big bang?
The point of all this is to try to give you a fresh perspective on that which has become completely accepted and normal to you. To make you step back for a second and wonder at the amazement of the existence of all the normal everyday things around you. Really think about what it means to be alive, it’s amazing that we exist, that the universe exists.
Seeing things through the eyes of a child
Think about how a small child sees the world. Everything is new to them, everything is fresh. Children will stare in amazement at the smallest things and laugh with joy when they learn how a new toy works. Children are amazed when they discover themselves in the mirror, and can get hours of joy by making funny faces at it. To a child the world is an astonishing place full of wonder and excitement.
As adults we get too used to the world. We see the same things every day. We do the same job every day. There’s not much that can surprise us anymore. We forget how bewildering it is to be alive. We are taught many of the extraordinary things early on, so they become normal to us, we stop questioning them. We lose the wonder we once had about life. Our perspective remains constant.
We need a fresh one.
Epic travel alters perspective
We you travel for real, you can’t help but alter your perspectives on the world and life. When we travel we see things that are so new to us, experience things so outside of our normal, and learn things we find so interesting that it’s like seeing the world again from the eyes of a child.
We are broken out of the normal trance we experience in our formerly confined states and rekindle the wonder we once had about life. The everyday things in our new surroundings are interesting to us because they are different than what we know. We haven’t become numb to them yet.
Experiencing different cultures keeps your mind fresh. While in our own countries our minds may focus on our daily worries and problems, in a new culture it is focused on all the new chances to learn from all the new things coming in through the senses.
A fresh perspective can also be a humbling experience that helps you to appreciate the normal parts of your life more. Seeing how others live in poorer countries really makes you grateful for the simple things you may have took for granted before. When you realize what a luxury a washing machine is for most of the world, doing laundry will never again seem like such a big chore.
Besides the obvious physical differences between cultures, learning about the differences in mindsets will also help you expand your own thinking. I’ve found that above all the physical differences between north American and China, it’s the mindsets and beliefs of the average Chinese person that are far more different than I could have imagined. This makes you question everything from how you socialize to how to do business to how you form relationships, and every country will present something different. Learning many different beliefs and mindsets helps you understand what’s really important to you.
Perspectives on what really matters in life
While travelling Thailand I had a big shift in my perspective about what’s really important in life. I noticed the Thai people seemed so much more genuinely happy and friendly than people back in North America, while at the same time they lived with so much less. There was a relaxed calmness to their lives. They enjoyed the simple pleasures of life, they played games, told stories, and just enjoyed spending time with each other. They act as if they don’t feel anything is missing in their lives, even though they live with so much less… while it seems in North America no matter how much we have we always feel we need something more.
This helped me gain a sense of freedom during my time in Thailand. For the first time I felt as if I had no possessions in the world except the things in my backpack, and this helped to alter my perspective on material possessions. I was having the best time of my life, so maybe I really didn’t need all the things I thought were necessary back home.
They say “the best things in life are free” and this experience really helped to reinforce that saying for me. It truly is the simple things in life that bring the most joy. Meeting new friends, enjoying some live music, exploring beautiful nature, relaxing in a hammock under the stars, falling in love, or just listening to the sounds of the ocean. When you fully get into these things, you realize you don’t need anything else in your life in order for you to be happy. There’s no need to trade your life away working long hours at a stressful job in order to buy a bigger house and a nicer car… that path only leads to slaving the best years of your life away when really the real joys of life are already available to us.
Seeing the world with fresh eyes
As you get hit by new perspectives, and open yourself up to new experiences, you’ll notice a shift in your thinking. The world won’t seem as dull and normal anymore. Something has changed and things have a new freshness about them. You’ll slowly rekindle your astonishment of the world. Everyday will have a certain specialness to it… an underlying layer of wonder shining through the surface.
The changes will last too. After returning home you won’t be able to look at it the same way. Your perspectives will have been changed, and your awareness about the world will have grown. This will affect how you see even that which was completely normal and accepted to you before. 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.
After altering your perspectives through travel you may never see the world the same again. This is one of the best reasons to get out there and travel to grow!