Throughout the last 2 years I have been to Asia and back four times now. I am here to admit that traveling can be overwhelmingly frustrating. You will see sides of yourself that you did not even know could possibly exist. And once you experience yourself in this light, you will shamefully hope that it never bellows out of you again.
[ Even if you are not a traveler, keep reading. Imagine yourself on a day to day basis where you may find yourself appalled by your reactions. You may not be appalled by them. You may not even be noticing them. ]
So picture this.. Its quite a normal situation actually.
You finally step foot off of that 20 hour long journey - hungry, tired, agitated, and bewildered.
Whether its a boat, train, or a bus, your journey was most likely delayed at least 3 hours, but alas you arrive and you begin to think "Yes, I'm finally free!"
Your first pleasant thought is quickly shattered and interrupted by about 30 men fighting to take you on their taxi.
And the emotions roar..
You will talk to people in a way you never imagined you would. There will be times where you will simply lose it if one more person tries to sell you a sarong, tuk tuk, or an elephant ride.
I am not talking about cussing somebody out in your own foreign language, which I have seen happen.. I am talking about avoiding eye contact, ignoring that a human being is talking to you, and I am talking about letting all of your anger out on the wrong person.
But let me tell you this..
Nothing has bothered me more while traveling than watching the way that I would react during times of frustration.
Second to that, would be watching the way that other travelers respond to certain situations.
This is not, however, a post on how to treat humanity. This is meant to become a discussion on leveling your mind to avoid these states of being completely.
I began to develop a new mindset. It really all stemmed from surviving a Vipassana meditation course.. I started to observe all of my thoughts and responses. From this, my behaviors have changed.
Here are a few things that I have realized when it comes to the mind.
1. Observe your thoughts.
You are in control of your emotions. Give yourself a little chit chat.
Pause and think before you open your mouth.
When you sit back and look around, slap yourself into reality. You will realize that you are the luckiest son of a hardworking individual to be able to experience these annoyances. They are so miniscule.
Take a look around. Turn your thinking into how grateful you are. Look around at those less fortunate and give yourself a bit of perspective.
This all aside, any situation you are in, observe your mind. Follow your thoughts without any judgement. Just recognize that you are not in your best mindset and figure out what it will take to get there.
2. Happiness is perspective. It is a choice. It is a way of life.
Happiness is such a relative state of being. It doesn't depend on what you have, where you are, or who you are with. It depends entirely on what is going on inside of you.
You can live the same life as somebody else. One may have the best life in the world, the other may be entirely miserable.
Watch the way that you look at things. If you are on this journey and it lasts 3 extra hours and slowly develops into a tumultuous 20 hour trip, then change the way that you are thinking about it. Change your thoughts. Look around at each of the people and come up with a story in your head.. Better yet, TALK with these people, experience, get to know the humans surrounding you.
I have a feeling that soon enough, your mindset will switch. Happiness is quite contagious as they say.
3. Patience is learning to live in the moment and enjoy the ride.
Mmm.. this is a big one you learn while traveling.
It should seem obvious that it is all about the adventure while traveling, but really these all relate to our regular everyday lives. Whether you are standing in the grocery store at home or you are sitting on that 20 hour train ride, it is all the same. Patience is the difference between a magnificent experience and a miserable excursion.
Learn to live in your mind. Learn to entertain your thoughts.
Look around you. Observe. Write. Read. Write down a list of everything you could possibly dream of doing in your lifetime. Breathe.
Accept the fact that you have no control over the amount of time you will spend in this situation. Acknowledge that you do have complete power over how that time will be spent.
4. Unmet expectations are the root of disappointment.
The main complaint that I hear about Americans while traveling is that we always complain. That and that we are arrogant, uneducated about the world, and quite obnoxious at times.. Oh and did I mention our politics? Gun control? Education system? Healthcare?
Buuuut anyway... lets get back to the complaints. Its obviously not an American thing. It is humanity. If we set our expectations at any certain level and they are not met, immediately the mindset about the situation is changed.
You could be presented with the most extraordinary hotel room, a nice clean double bed with a hot shower and even shampoo on the sink, and you could still be disappointed. (Oh what I would do for a room like this most nights..) If you were expecting to have wifi as fast as your home office or Redken shampoo and moisturizing conditioner stocked in the bath, then yes your expectations were unmet. You are now unhappy.
I have numerous examples that are more practical for my line of travel..
You presume that there will be toilet paper in the bathroom. Perhaps you even assume that you will be using a regular western toilet as opposed to a hole in the ground.
For some strange reason you may even expect that you will have your own bed on a night bus only to find out that a stranger will be cuddled up next to you.
All of these are simply presumptions based on what you have known before but you are indeed in another country. Isn't that the point of it? To try new things and to live a different way.. Traveling aside, learn to laugh about it. I am sure that the time will pass and it will be a comical memory soon enough.
5. SMILE. Then, you will become happy.
The best way to set your mind straight is to give yourself a smile. Open that mouth and curl your dimples up. You will just become happy.
If that doesn't work, look for a child. Let their radiating smile project onto your frown.. It will put you just where you need to be.