I had the amazing opportunity to travel through Europe this summer. It wasn’t the typical destinations either. It was in the Balkans where some countries are barely touched by tourism. I got a glimpse into how life should be embraced. People that dealt with the rise and fall of communism, then lived through a war and still live with landmines just off main roads. The atmosphere of the past only revealed itself from bombed buildings and abandoned homes with bullet holes. The people reflected something much more inspiring.
1. The Past Shouldn’t Dictate Your Right Now
In Bosnia, we drove for two hours and didn’t see a soul. The houses had seen bombs and bullets. They were being devoured by nature. However, when we arrived in a village, city or campsite, people were warm to me. They were full of life and laughter. Initially, they were always a bit reserved at first but became playful and open pretty quickly. They were very community oriented and laughed with each other. At night in the cities, they gathered in squares and socialized. Despite their tumultuous past of post-communism, war and now poverty, it was amazing to see that their spirit was so alive. Many of us are so much more fortunate. Live life with laughter and warmth.in your heart no matter what is happening.
2. It’s Not What You Have But How You Feel
In some of the poorest countries in Europe, it seems even more important to have a Mercedes. I’ve never seen so many of them in my life while going through Albania, Bulgaria and Romania. Some people have to live in their car because they can’t afford anything else. The smiles I got usually came from the guy driving an old Trabant or a horse and buggy. Every culture is guilty of wanting things. It’s letting them define you where the problem lies. I witnessed the incredible power of being content with what you have. I saw unwavering happiness for life in those kind of people. Being grateful for whatever you have takes away the feeling of not having enough. You likely have much more than many.
3. Being Self Sustainable
In the high hills and deep valleys of Montenegro, people still live off what they can grow or farm. While it may be hard work, the families were connected and the food, unbelievable. Fresh goat cheese, vegetables and farm fresh eggs. These hearty people of the villages knew how to treat ailments with natural plants in the area and didn’t rely on society. They were happy, healthy people. While it’s not possible for all of us to own goats and have a garden, supporting local farmers by purchasing their produce is a good option. You support sustainable practise while enjoying farm fresh goods.
4. Keeping A Sense of Community
The Balkans showed me a side of humanity that melted my heart. The togetherness of families and friends lit up all surroundings. Their uninhibited laughter and how they adored one another was deeply touching. They welcomed me into their lives as though I was family. Having a community of people around you gives a sense of security and belonging in the world. Make the effort to stay close to your loved ones. Help each other and have get-togethers. This is truly a secret.to fulfillment.
5. Honouring Your Roots
Horse drawn buggies and shepherds tending their sheep is still a way of life in the Balkans. They were proud people that were excited.to tell you about the best parts of their country. They value their past and keep on with family tradition. Knowing your roots allows you to have an identity of yourself. This allows for greater conviction in your life. Decisions are easier and you’re secure. You also have a rich family history. Be proud of where you came from and carry on a small tradition. Something as small as using your grandma’s pie recipe can make you feel like you’re a larger part of something.