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5 Reasons Why You Should Absolutely Go on that Road Trip

5 Reasons Why You Should Absolutely Go on that Road Trip

Have you been feeling tired, over-worked and stressed out about life, love and your career? Maybe you’ve been feeling on the brink of checking yourself into a mental health facility – but you don’t even have the strength to do that! Whether you are fizzling out or not, one thing that is never a bad idea, is a good old dose of what’s called a “Road Trip” – especially with those you deem your closest friends!

Yes, that trip that allows you to escape the mundane of everyday living, and provides you with some much needed R&R (caution: Rest may be limited due to your preferences of having fun). However, by going on a Road Trip you have the opportunity to see more, experience more and appreciate more. In the age of “gadgets-and-gizmos” and where everything from our meals to our hours with family and friends are planned out, this is probably one of the most spontaneous things to do. By going on a Road Trip with friends, especially if they are as crazy as mine, make way for the spunk known as spontaneity!

Neither finances, nor means of getting there is a problem. As the saying goes: “Where there is a will, there is a way.” If you open yourself up to it, you will find creative ways to ensure you have the best time possible, without spending too much money in the process. For once stop allowing your fears and inhibitions to control every aspect of your life and make that decision to go on that road trip and have some fun!

Still need more convincing? Here are 5 reasons why you should absolutely go on that Road Trip:

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1. Opportunity to Let Go

As mentioned above – you have the opportunity to escape all the stressful factors in your life and take a breath of fresh air – and the best of all, you get to that with friends. You have the opportunity to stop the life that is passing you by and you get to actually live it. By not being consumed by hours and deadlines, time will become your friend and no longer your enemy – this is the key to bringing you the healing you might need.

    Photo by Marlè Visagie

    2. Opportunity to See More of Your Country

    Take a beat and realize that you find yourselves in a world that is spectacular in its beauties and wonders. We often get so lost in the problems in our lives, the problems of the world and yes, the problems that often hit a lot harder with the fear of the future for our children, our country. However, if we are constantly looking for the worst in situations, we will find it. Like my Dad said when my music choices (cough-cough, any rock lovers out there?) were being frowned upon: “If you look for the Devil in something, you will find him.”

    If all I do today is leave you with one thought, let it be this: Do not let fear and negativity rule your mind and emotions. This will hold you back in all aspects of life, and truth be told – no one really appreciates the pessimistic person referred to as the “Party-Pooper.” Let us stop overlooking the beauty and the exciting experiences that our own country has to offer us and let us embrace it – arms stretched out and running like the cliché of a love boy and girl through the fields of flowers, eagerly awaiting each other– with an open heart and mind.

    We have too many roads less travelled, oceans not yet seen, forests not yet explored and people not yet met.

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    IMG_6688
      Photo by Marlè Visagie

      Which brings me to my third reason:

      3. Opportunity to Meet New People

      Ah – nothing like the locals of a town to bring a new sense of flavor and adventure into our lives. From showing you the ins and outs of your destination to helping you with new skills like hiking, paddle-boarding, surfing and many more, all of which broaden your horizon and literally turn you into a new person.

      You should also not forget about all the other exotic travellers from within your country, as well as without, that you get to meet. It is in them that you see new places, new cultures and new ways of doing things – which is very important for personal growth and understanding – something we all need a little extra of in the world that we find ourselves in today. These new friends will not only allow you to leave your mark on them, but they will leave their mark on you – making you want to stay longer than what you originally planned.

      95981e482a41cd59302e3b4af830762a
        Photo via Pinterest

        4. Opportunity to Make Some Unforgettable Memories

        One thing you can be certain of is this: you will make memories and you will make lots of them. Whether you opted for something as peaceful and relaxing as a wine-tasting (which in my case would just turn out to be one big party – what can I say, we love our wine) or something a little along the wild side, like a quick skinny dip in the ocean. Whatever it is you decide to do – the memories you make will last you a lifetime, it will carry you through all the ups and downs in life, it will bring a smile to your face once you find yourself back in the mundane of things and it will make you spontaneous in your planning of the next Road Trip. How can there not be a next one?

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        Nothing is too big or too small for this trip – the things you do will end up being the things that bring a warm feeling of fondness to your heart. The best of all – if you have friends like mine, there will absolutely be no judgement, just lots of laughter and opportunities for inside jokes and “remember when you (insert verb).” These memories will also be something you can tell the kids one day – take note, I said one day – some of us will have to wait until they pass the R rated phase and are a little bit older and wiser.

        On a serious note though, these are the moments that count, that color your life in and make you say: “You know what, I am lucky. I have a beautiful life and I get to share it with beautiful people.”

        20150922_155741
          Photo by Marlè Visagie

          This brings me to my fifth reason:

          5. You Receive an Appreciation for Life

          Yes, you get to see new places, meet new people and learn new things. Yes, you get to make memories that will last you a lifetime and you get to make it with the friends of a lifetime – but that is not all: You get to chase the sunrises and sunsets which are a gift of everyday life. Do you remember the last time your mind was shushed by the artful sunrise or sunset of a new place? The last time you could felt a completely uninhibited breath of fresh air fill your lung?

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          Those artworks of Heaven that leave you breathless will give you a new sense of appreciation for all that this life offers and still has to offer. It will quiet you down and show you what really matters in this world – giving you a new sense of direction, a new vibrant vision and a passionately heart-pounding purpose.

          Just Breathe it in
            Photo by Bianca Gouws

            This is the playlist of your life – one with no stops, no pauses, no rewinds and no fast-forwards (no matter how much it often feels like it has) – we ought to ensure it is an epic one!

            Featured photo credit: tripoto via tripoto.com

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            Bianca Gouws

            Freelance Writer, Director and Actress

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            Last Updated on October 22, 2020

            8 Simple Ways to Be a Better Listener

            8 Simple Ways to Be a Better Listener

            How would you feel if you were sharing a personal story and noticed that the person to whom you were speaking wasn’t really listening? You probably wouldn’t be too thrilled.

            Unfortunately, that is the case for many people. Most individuals are not good listeners. They are good pretenders. The thing is, true listening requires work—more work than people are willing to invest. Quality conversation is about “give and take.” Most people, however, want to just give—their words, that is. Being on the receiving end as the listener may seem boring, but it’s essential.

            When you are attending to someone and paying attention to what they’re saying, it’s a sign of caring and respect. The hitch is that attending requires an act of will, which sometimes goes against what our minds naturally do—roaming around aimlessly and thinking about whatnot, instead of listening—the greatest act of thoughtfulness.

            Without active listening, people often feel unheard and unacknowledged. That’s why it’s important for everyone to learn how to be a better listener.

            What Makes People Poor Listeners?

            Good listening skills can be learned, but first, let’s take a look at some of the things that you might be doing that makes you a poor listener.

            1. You Want to Talk to Yourself

            Well, who doesn’t? We all have something to say, right? But when you are looking at someone pretending to be listening while, all along, they’re mentally planning all the amazing things they’re going to say, it is a disservice to the speaker.

            Yes, maybe what the other person is saying is not the most exciting thing in the world. Still, they deserve to be heard. You always have the ability to steer the conversation in another direction by asking questions.

            It’s okay to want to talk. It’s normal, even. Keep in mind, however, that when your turn does come around, you’ll want someone to listen to you.

            2. You Disagree With What Is Being Said

            This is another thing that makes you an inadequate listener—hearing something with which you disagree with and immediately tuning out. Then, you lie in wait so you can tell the speaker how wrong they are. You’re eager to make your point and prove the speaker wrong. You think that once you speak your “truth,” others will know how mistaken the speaker is, thank you for setting them straight, and encourage you to elaborate on what you have to say. Dream on.

            Disagreeing with your speaker, however frustrating that might be, is no reason to tune them out and ready yourself to spew your staggering rebuttal. By listening, you might actually glean an interesting nugget of information that you were previously unaware of.

            3. You Are Doing Five Other Things While You’re “Listening”

            It is impossible to listen to someone while you’re texting, reading, playing Sudoku, etc. But people do it all the time—I know I have.

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            I’ve actually tried to balance my checkbook while pretending to listen to the person on the other line. It didn’t work. I had to keep asking, “what did you say?” I can only admit this now because I rarely do it anymore. With work, I’ve succeeded in becoming a better listener. It takes a great deal of concentration, but it’s certainly worth it.

            If you’re truly going to listen, then you must: listen! M. Scott Peck, M.D., in his book The Road Less Travel, says, “you cannot truly listen to anyone and do anything else at the same time.” If you are too busy to actually listen, let the speaker know, and arrange for another time to talk. It’s simple as that!

            4. You Appoint Yourself as Judge

            While you’re “listening,” you decide that the speaker doesn’t know what they’re talking about. As the “expert,” you know more. So, what’s the point of even listening?

            To you, the only sound you hear once you decide they’re wrong is, “Blah, blah, blah, blah, blah!” But before you bang that gavel, just know you may not have all the necessary information. To do that, you’d have to really listen, wouldn’t you? Also, make sure you don’t judge someone by their accent, the way they sound, or the structure of their sentences.

            My dad is nearly 91. His English is sometimes a little broken and hard to understand. People wrongly assume that he doesn’t know what he’s talking about—they’re quite mistaken. My dad is a highly intelligent man who has English as his second language. He knows what he’s saying and understands the language perfectly.

            Keep that in mind when listening to a foreigner, or someone who perhaps has a difficult time putting their thoughts into words.

            Now, you know some of the things that make for an inferior listener. If none of the items above resonate with you, great! You’re a better listener than most.

            How To Be a Better Listener

            For conversation’s sake, though, let’s just say that maybe you need some work in the listening department, and after reading this article, you make the decision to improve. What, then, are some of the things you need to do to make that happen? How can you be a better listener?

            1. Pay Attention

            A good listener is attentive. They’re not looking at their watch, phone, or thinking about their dinner plans. They’re focused and paying attention to what the other person is saying. This is called active listening.

            According to Skills You Need, “active listening involves listening with all senses. As well as giving full attention to the speaker, it is important that the ‘active listener’ is also ‘seen’ to be listening—otherwise, the speaker may conclude that what they are talking about is uninteresting to the listener.”[1]

            As I mentioned, it’s normal for the mind to wander. We’re human, after all. But a good listener will rein those thoughts back in as soon as they notice their attention waning.

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            I want to note here that you can also “listen” to bodily cues. You can assume that if someone keeps looking at their watch or over their shoulder, their focus isn’t on the conversation. The key is to just pay attention.

            2. Use Positive Body Language

            You can infer a lot from a person’s body language. Are they interested, bored, or anxious?

            A good listener’s body language is open. They lean forward and express curiosity in what is being said. Their facial expression is either smiling, showing concern, conveying empathy, etc. They’re letting the speaker know that they’re being heard.

            People say things for a reason—they want some type of feedback. For example, you tell your spouse, “I had a really rough day!” and your husband continues to check his newsfeed while nodding his head. Not a good response.

            But what if your husband were to look up with questioning eyes, put his phone down, and say, “Oh, no. What happened?” How would feel, then? The answer is obvious.

            According to Alan Gurney,[2]

            “An active listener pays full attention to the speaker and ensures they understand the information being delivered. You can’t be distracted by an incoming call or a Facebook status update. You have to be present and in the moment.

            Body language is an important tool to ensure you do this. The correct body language makes you a better active listener and therefore more ‘open’ and receptive to what the speaker is saying. At the same time, it indicates that you are listening to them.”

            3. Avoid Interrupting the Speaker

            I am certain you wouldn’t want to be in the middle of a sentence only to see the other person holding up a finger or their mouth open, ready to step into your unfinished verbiage. It’s rude and causes anxiety. You would, more than likely, feel a need to rush what you’re saying just to finish your sentence.

            Interrupting is a sign of disrespect. It is essentially saying, “what I have to say is much more important than what you’re saying.” When you interrupt the speaker, they feel frustrated, hurried, and unimportant.

            Interrupting a speaker to agree, disagree, argue, etc., causes the speaker to lose track of what they are saying. It’s extremely frustrating. Whatever you have to say can wait until the other person is done.

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            Be polite and wait your turn!

            4. Ask Questions

            Asking questions is one of the best ways to show you’re interested. If someone is telling you about their ski trip to Mammoth, don’t respond with, “that’s nice.” That would show a lack of interest and disrespect. Instead, you can ask, “how long have you been skiing?” “Did you find it difficult to learn?” “What was your favorite part of the trip?” etc. The person will think highly of you and consider you a great conversationalist just by you asking a few questions.

            5. Just Listen

            This may seem counterintuitive. When you’re conversing with someone, it’s usually back and forth. On occasion, all that is required of you is to listen, smile, or nod your head, and your speaker will feel like they’re really being heard and understood.

            I once sat with a client for 45 minutes without saying a word. She came into my office in distress. I had her sit down, and then she started crying softly. I sat with her—that’s all I did. At the end of the session, she stood, told me she felt much better, and then left.

            I have to admit that 45 minutes without saying a word was tough. But she didn’t need me to say anything. She needed a safe space in which she could emote without interruption, judgment, or me trying to “fix” something.

            6. Remember and Follow Up

            Part of being a great listener is remembering what the speaker has said to you, then following up with them.

            For example, in a recent conversation you had with your co-worker Jacob, he told you that his wife had gotten a promotion and that they were contemplating moving to New York. The next time you run into Jacob, you may want to say, “Hey, Jacob! Whatever happened with your wife’s promotion?” At this point, Jacob will know you really heard what he said and that you’re interested to see how things turned out. What a gift!

            According to new research, “people who ask questions, particularly follow-up questions, may become better managers, land better jobs, and even win second dates.”[3]

            It’s so simple to show you care. Just remember a few facts and follow up on them. If you do this regularly, you will make more friends.

            7. Keep Confidential Information Confidential

            If you really want to be a better listener, listen with care. If what you’re hearing is confidential, keep it that way, no matter how tempting it might be to tell someone else, especially if you have friends in common. Being a good listener means being trustworthy and sensitive with shared information.

            Whatever is told to you in confidence is not to be revealed. Assure your speaker that their information is safe with you. They will feel relieved that they have someone with whom they can share their burden without fear of it getting out.

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            Keeping someone’s confidence helps to deepen your relationship. Also, “one of the most important elements of confidentiality is that it helps to build and develop trust. It potentially allows for the free flow of information between the client and worker and acknowledges that a client’s personal life and all the issues and problems that they have belong to them.”[4]

            Be like a therapist: listen and withhold judgment.

            NOTE: I must add here that while therapists keep everything in a session confidential, there are exceptions:

            1. If the client may be an immediate danger to himself or others.
            2. If the client is endangering a population that cannot protect itself, such as in the case of a child or elder abuse.

            8. Maintain Eye Contact

            When someone is talking, they are usually saying something they consider meaningful. They don’t want their listener reading a text, looking at their fingernails, or bending down to pet a pooch on the street. A speaker wants all eyes on them. It lets them know that what they’re saying has value.

            Eye contact is very powerful. It can relay many things without anything being said. Currently, it’s more important than ever with the Covid-19 Pandemic. People can’t see your whole face, but they can definitely read your eyes.

            By eye contact, I don’t mean a hard, creepy stare—just a gaze in the speaker’s direction will do. Make it a point the next time you’re in a conversation to maintain eye contact with your speaker. Avoid the temptation to look anywhere but at their face. I know it’s not easy, especially if you’re not interested in what they’re talking about. But as I said, you can redirect the conversation in a different direction or just let the person know you’ve got to get going.

            Final Thoughts

            Listening attentively will add to your connection with anyone in your life. Now, more than ever, when people are so disconnected due to smartphones and social media, listening skills are critical.

            You can build better, more honest, and deeper relationships by simply being there, paying attention, and asking questions that make the speaker feel like what they have to say matters.

            And isn’t that a great goal? To make people feel as if they matter? So, go out and start honing those listening skills. You’ve got two great ears. Now use them!

            More Tips on How to Be a Better Listener

            Featured photo credit: Joshua Rodriguez via unsplash.com

            Reference

            [1] Skills You Need: Active Listening
            [2] Filtered: Body language for active listening
            [3] Forbes: People Will Like You More If You Start Asking Follow-up Questions
            [4] TAFE NSW Sydney eLearning Moodle: Confidentiality

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