- Saptadeepa Bandopadhyay
How travelling changed my perspective towards life and the world!
Updated: Jul 13, 2020
Nothing would have changed had I not intended to travel over the past few years. I would have lived the same life, taken fewer risks and believed life had to be ticketed off by the socially approved checklist.
Not that I had never before traveled beyond my hometown but most of my earlier trips only meant going to destinations and ticking of the touristy places. But over the past few years, I was more curious about a destination with respect to its culture, people, food. I wanted to make a friend or two from the place, know about the local lives, their views, their lifestyle while also exploring the natural marvels and rediscover history unlike that from my part of the world.
Also Read - Lessons I Learnt from the hiking trails
Along this quest to explore new places and corners of my vastly diverse country, I have also discovered how it has helped me evolve on an individual level.
These are my travel reflections and a little insight into how it has changed my perspective about life and the world -
1. There is no scale to measure happiness -
Happiness is the most abstract feeling ever. It means different things to different people. There is no defined formula or checklist to reaching that eureka moment and neither can one be in that state forever.
Meeting people from different places gives so many perspectives of the same human life. Strangely enough, we all are seeking happiness and none of our happiness can even be compared.
For some happiness is to get a job, buy a home, get pay raises, buy a car, get married and have kids. While others would count happiness on snow clad peaks, or the golden hour moment, or the sunrise by the seashore or a sky full of stars over a cold desert. Similarly a village dweller, would be happy and content with a perfect harvest season.
Every individual is different and seeking different goals. All of their goals are important on the individual level yet not so important from the other persons view.
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2. Importance of slowing down -
Have you taken weekend trips or been to a place for a very short duration and then tried to check off that 'To do' list, 'Places to see' from the internet only to be exhausted by the end of the day. I was that person for the longest time and sometimes even today struggle with the thought of missing something out.
But the running around does no good. You would just have ticked off that 'Places to see' checklist but not really given yourself time to sit and enjoy a sunset or learn about the history and culture of the destination. So, at times its better to make #JOMO out of our #FOMO and there is a different kind of joy in not worrying about missing out on an experience.
Sometimes our 'Stop Doing' list needs to be bigger than our 'to-do' list. - Patti Digh
The other aspect of looking into it is via our daily lives where we are constantly running around throughout the day trying to achieve deadlines. On the contrary if I am in an offbeat destination, life seems so laid back. Days start before the sunrise and end soon after the sunset, yet they seem to complete all their daily tasks and also fall asleep peacefully by night. Same 24 hour clock feels longer in the village when compared to our busy city lives.
Slow living gives you time to introspect and enjoy life to the fullest without getting exhausted. It helps you focus on what is absolutely essential instead of trying to multi-task throughout the day.
And every day, the world will drag you by the hand, yelling, "This is important! And This is important! And this is important! You need to worry about this! And this! And This! And each day it is up to you to yank your hand back, put it on your heart and say, "No. This is what is important" - Iain Thomas
3. Stop being judgemental -
Its absolutely human to judge other people, other religion or sect, other cultures. Its so ingrained into us that we at times unknowing judge people.
But, the more I explore, my thoughts are more accommodating of others' ways of life, their culture. A lot of things may not be normal in my part of the world, but very normal somewhere else.
Similarly there are times when you come across rules and restrictions for visiting places, the dos and don'ts that are at par with the sentiments of the locals and it becomes absolutely normal to accept it than being rebellious and not adhering to them.
This has helped in my daily life as well. I have stopped judging people for who and why they are. There is already so much hate all around the world, it harms no one to be a little kind and accept people as they are.
4. Compassion and Empathy -
Only when I traveled to distant lands and connected to people from remote villages of Himachal or Kashmir, I realized how people live with limited supplies, in harsh weather conditions, limited access to basic facilities like schools, hospitals, amidst economic and politically turmoil, displaced by cross border conflicts and much more.
We as city dwellers are shielded from the harsh realities of the world. Its through travel, we connect to many people from different corners of the world and understand their ways of life. We get to know, even if conditions are rough, people struggle every day and thrive.
Travel thus makes us more compassionate towards others and helps us become empathetic towards other souls. These are such traits of the emotional intelligence which can never be acquired just by reading or learning about them, unless you feel it yourself.
"Travel is fatal to prejudice, bigotry, and narrow-mindedness, and many of our people need it sorely on these accounts. Broad wholesome charitable views of men and things cannot be acquired by vegetating in one little corner of the earth all one's lifetime" - Mark Twain, The Innocents Abroad
5. Awareness about the world -
Travel for me has played an important role in inculcating the curiosity of unknown places.
With every destination, we are not discovering anything new, we just go to places that were already discovered, read and see history that was already written, only to re-discover them for ourselves again.
In the recent years, I have been much more aware of the history, political affairs and stories of cultures from around the world. The more you travel, the more you experience a surge in your curiosity to know more about the place and lives there. And this curiosity make you more aware of yourself and your interests.
It feels like the curious child, who keeps questioning about anything he sees for the first time. With travel, one becomes more present and tries to absorb the new surroundings. It is completely opposite to our regular mundane lives where we ignore our regular surroundings and only think about the past or the future.
6. Finding your own tribe -
There were times, when my thoughts didn't match with those around me, sometimes even my family. At such time, it often occurred that something is wrong about me, why do I not look at life as others do, why do I not fit among others.
But the more I explored and met new people on the road, I knew there were people like me. That I was not the only one to think something out of the box or questions the societal norms. There were others who connected to my thought and I to theirs. It is good to know that you will find your tribe some day, people like you exist, though, not in your vicinity.
This sense of belonging does matter for many of us. Else our thoughts and ideas may never be expressed. It is an assurance that you can think and express the way you wish to and there are people who would love to listen to you.
7. Embracing Uncertainty -
Some of the most beautiful chapters in our lives won't have a title until much later - Bob Goff
The decision to hit the road is the first step to embracing uncertainties ahead of a journey. So many of us are afraid to hit the road because the journey is unpredictable. And those who have been on the road will tell you how hard it is to predict the next 10 kilometers, the weather changes in the next 5 hours, the missing of a connecting flight even if you tried your best to avoid it or maybe just the sprained foot which wont let you complete your dream trek.
This is how travel teaches you to be grounded even on the most unpredictable journeys. And this is how travel teaches you to embrace the uncertainties of life even if you have mapped the perfect graph of your future self.
8. We need so less to survive -
As my travelling sprees increased, along came the task of packing and unpacking of bags with every trip. With time I also learnt hacks to fold small, carry light, carry less and only essentials to survive. With that came an urge to re-visit all the unnecessary belongings I had been possessing from so long with the thought the I might need them some day.
After surviving out of a backpack and in a tent, I am now aware that I possess much more than I need to survive a decent lifestyle. There are things we possess because its a trend, and then there are things we simply hoard thinking we will need them one fine day, and then there are possessions which we attach sentiments to. Our possessions increase if we have places to store. The more space, the more we possess.
The less stuff you need, the less you spend.
The less you spend, the less you have to work
and the more you can enjoy life.
-Donna Smallin Kuper
Also Read - First Attempt to backpacking around Thailand
Travelling is an eye opener to help you re-evaluate a life you live and paves path for a better perspective towards your life and the world around.
Do you have any such major life changes which you have embraced in the recent times or on you travels? Would love to know about it! Do share below in the comments.