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10 Signs Your Traveling Experiences Have Made You a Better Person

10 Signs Your Traveling Experiences Have Made You a Better Person

You’ve returned from travel and are settling into your usual routine. It’s your familiar routine all right, but you’re suddenly observing things you never noticed before. It’s like seeing with new eyes. Travel experiences change you, sometimes in big ways but often, in subtle steps that will surprise you. That’s a good sign. Welcome these changes in outlook and attitude as you unveil a noticeably improved you!

10. You take photos to keep memories and share with people close to you; not to show off.

Travel is exciting, especially when it’s your first time. That’s usually when you go overboard with minute-by-minute image announcements to exhibit on social media. As you gain traveling experiences, your photos turn into meaningful slices of your personal life shared with people who know you well. You’ll intuitively select the shots you take or choose to be part of, and you won’t feel compelled to share them with everyone out there. You know it’s not a contest of been-there, done-that.

9. You keep a sense of curiosity and wonder.

The excitement settles down somewhat for frequent travelers. Unfortunately, some turn blase or even jaded. You can join the others who hold on to curiosity and wonder and who keep seeing new things. You’ll regularly go “Oh. Wow!” (jaw drop then huge smile). You’ll have an eye for observing little details—in a magnificent architecture, a famous painting, a spectacular view, the slope of a ski lift, even the crank of a zip line. Your traveling experiences bring new discoveries that fuel your curiosity for life.

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8. You easily strike a conversation, not just during your traveling experiences.

Travel brings out parts of your personality that are not apparent in your “normal habitat.” Maybe it’s because you’re more relaxed on holidays or you’re free from real or perceived social norms. You find yourself enthusiastically sharing childhood stories with strangers. You feel a kinship with the tour group you spent three days with. You make lasting connections. Your relaxed social manner spills over on your return home where your renewed interest in people allows you to easily make friends.

7. You respect culture and history.

At first, reading up on your destination may only be about required malaria shots or acceptable tipping amounts. Soon, you’ll enjoy researching cuisine, sites that are off the beaten track, local customs, and little known facts. You become mindful of and respect other people’s way-of-life. Gone are the days when you unconsciously blurt out jokes or risk gestures that could offend the locals. You gain deeper historical perspectives. You learn to appreciate your own country’s culture and understand how interconnected nations are. Traveling experiences bring out the diplomat in you.

6. You are open; there’s little room for prejudice.

People who expose themselves to various cultures embrace the differences among peoples and countries. I’ve met travelers, mostly Europeans, who avoid mixing with their compatriots not because of dislike but because they purposely want to learn about other nationalities. The more traveling experiences you add up, the more comfortable you become mingling across cultures, and the less likely you’ll tolerate ethnic jokes or negative remarks about race, religion, or gender. You’re a citizen of the world.

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5. You have a reverence for nature and the environment.

When you’ve visited a nature reserve, a natural heritage site, or any pristine piece of land or ocean, you become committed to protecting all sites. It’s no coincidence that divers, surfers, and mountain climbers are among the most environmentally concerned group on the planet. That’s because they’ve experienced the wondrous beauty of nature but have also seen the damage inflicted by humans. They regularly organize clean ups of the beaches, ocean floors, and mountain sides. Your traveling experiences change you to live the words “Take nothing but pictures; leave nothing but footprints” … always.

4. You become deeply grateful.

A couple of peak moments in my life happened during travels: on an autumn walk through the German Black Forest and while gazing at a blue summer sky from Beijing’s Great Wall. To this day, the immense feeling of gratitude from the privilege of bearing witness to natural beauty and human achievement remains intense. I remember my eyes misting up and my lips releasing a sigh of gratitude for being alive in that moment. Walking through natural sites, scaling man-made wonders, and observing animals in their natural habitat make you grateful for their presence on the planet. You learn to truly appreciate life in general.

3. You don’t sweat the small stuff.

“I wonder how I ever in my life was self-destructive because I thought my life was bad. … I really had no idea what suffering or pain is.”

—Angelina Jolie, shortly after her life-changing experience in war-torn Cambodia while filming Lara Croft: Tomb Raider.

Travel reveals how people in other places live, sometimes with few resources, limited freedoms, or everyday risks. Like Angelina Jolie, you realize that in the bigger scheme of things, your reasons for feeling discontented with life are often petty, You value life more and vow to never again let unimportant things get to you.

2. You stop being an indifferent bystander.

Your take-away from travel can be powerfully profound. It spontaneously moves you to act like the divers, surfers and mountain climbers who clean up their beloved oceans and mountains. It shows up in your choices as a consumer. You stop patronizing companies with poor environmental records, don’t watch animal shows, select synthetic versus genuine alligator/animal skin, and shun products coming from endangered species. You contribute some amount in support of animal rights, speak up against human trafficking, and do your share to avert global warming. In your own sphere of influence, you become an activist for positive change. It’s a scaled-down—but very real—version of Angelina Jolie’s global efforts to help refugees.

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1. You totally get what “travel essentials” mean.

No more packing extra sets of clothes, a dozen pairs of socks, and a complete first aid kit. It’s not that you’ve become reckless. It’s because you’ve learned to trust that what you have is enough and things will work out. You understand that surprises are part of the adventure and you’ve learned to let go. So what do you do when your connecting flight is delayed, you’re stuck overnight in the airport, and your destination hotel is about to give away your room? You get comfortable and turn to page 1 of the thriller novel you couldn’t find time to read. You observe, explore, and take interesting photos. You get ready to swap travel stories with the person next to you. You’ve got your travel essentials covered.

  • a good novel;
  • a camera;
  • an open mind;
  • a sense of humor; and
  • making the best of what comes your way.

What if your precious laptop is in your luggage that got rerouted to another destination? You thank God you’ve got most of your files in an external hard drive in your carry-on bag and pray there’s a decent business center somewhere. Then you sigh, turn philosophical, and immerse yourself in the real-life, first-hand experience of your present moment.

Long after you’ve put away your luggage, your traveling experiences stay with you in pictures, in journals, and in your psyche. They contribute to turn you into the best version of who you are, so you can navigate the biggest adventure that is your life.

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Featured photo credit: Simon via pixabay.com

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Last Updated on August 12, 2020

When Should You Trust Your Gut and How?

When Should You Trust Your Gut and How?

Learning how to trust your gut, otherwise known as your intuition, can keep you safe. Your gut can guide you and help you build your confidence and resilience. My own gut instinct has saved me on more than one occasion. It has also guided me into making sound career choices and other exciting, big decisions. I’m also aware of the times when I’ve gone against my instincts and really regretted it later, wondering why I didn’t tune in to that valuable internal voice that we all have within us.

In this article, we’re going to explore why and how you should listen to your gut, as well as some concrete tips on how to make sure you’re making the most out of your gut instincts.

How to Listen to Your Gut

The key when making any big decision is to always take a minute to listen well to yourself and your inner compass. If you hear your actual voice saying yes while inside you’re silently screaming no, my advice is to ask for some time to think, or simply take a breath and pause before the yes or no escapes your mouth.

Use that moment to breathe, check in with yourself, and give the answer that feels congruent with who you are and what you want, not the one that always involves following the herd. Trusting your gut means having the courage to not simply go with the majority. It can be about holding your own. Here’s how to hone that skill for yourself and reap the rewards.

1. Tune Into Your Body

Your body gives you clues when you’re faced with a big decision. There are many visible and obvious symptoms that we feel in uncomfortable situations. Our body’s reaction is often something that we might try to hide, for example, blushing, being lost for words, or shaking. There are things we might do to try and hide that physical reaction, whether it’s wearing makeup, having a glass of wine or coffee to perk us up a bit, or learning to control our nerves.

However, paying attention to your body when you experience these feelings of anxiety can teach you so much and help you to make sound choices. Some people will experience an actual “gut” feeling of stomach ache or indigestion in an uncomfortable situation.

Ask yourself what’s really going on here, and explore what is happening behind your body’s response to the situation. What can your reaction or instinct teach you? Understanding that can be a clue and can help you either learn something about yourself, the situation, or other people. The answers are often within us.

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Sometimes we’ll get this “something’s not right here” feeling and cannot quite put our finger on it or explain it. That can still be incredibly useful and really guide us away from danger, even if we don’t know the reason.

In his book, Blink, Malcolm Gladwell also argues this, making the point that sometimes our subconscious is better at processing the answer we need, and that we don’t necessarily need to take time to collect hours and hours of information to come to a reliable conclusion[1].

2. Ensure Your Head Is Clear Before Making a Decision

Energy, sleep, and good nutrition are so vital to nourishing our minds, as well as our bodies. There are times when your instinct could lead you astray, and one of these is when you are hungry, “hangry” (angry because you’re hungry!), tired, or anxious. If this is the case–and it may sound obvious–do consider sleeping or eating on it before making an important choice.

There is, in fact, a connection between our gut and our brain[2], which is where terms like “butterflies in the stomach” and “gut-wrenching” originate from. Stress and emotions can cause physical feelings, and ignoring them might do more harm than good.

3. Don’t Be Afraid to Say What You Think and Feel

Listening to your gut and really paying attention to it might involve standing up and being counted, calling something out, or taking a stand. As someone who works for myself, I’ve become used to following the less-travelled road, and that’s given me the chance to strike out on my own in other ways, too.

As they tell you in the planes, “put your own oxygen mask on first,” and part of that self-reliance is knowing what you really want and like and what is safe and good for you, including what resonates with your personal and business values. Making good decisions with this in mind means making choices that do not go against your own beliefs, even when it may mean taking a stand. This is part of trusting yourself and trusting your instincts.

This does not always mean taking the “safe” option, although keeping ourselves safe is an important part of the process. This is how we learn and grow, by following our own inner compass. When you do take risks, go outside of your comfort zone, or choose the less popular option, spending some time researching the facts can stand us in good stead, too.

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4. Do Your Research If Something Feels Off

As well as listening to our instincts, we can also back up the evidence for our chosen course of action before taking the leap. I had a gut feeling about the need for a learning and development network when I noticed my clients getting stuck with the same problems. I set up and now run such a network, but instead of simply going for it, without evidence, I followed up on my instinct with research.

Having confidence in your gut instinct through these kinds of tests can help to minimize your risks, as well as spur you on. It will encourage you to trust your gut again in the future and trust that you are an expert with foresight and experience. You are!

5. Challenge Your Assumptions

When you look at the assumptions your making, this could be the clue to mistakes you are making.

In order to check that our instincts are wise, we need to ask ourselves what blanks we might be filling in, either consciously or unconsciously. This is true not just when it comes to our own decision-making. It’s also true when we are listening to someone explain a problem or situation, and we’re about to jump in and give some advice. If we can learn to be aware of our own assumptions, we can become better listeners and better decision makers, too.

A useful tool to become more aware of your assumptions before making a final decision is simply to ask yourself, “What assumptions am I making about this situation or person?”

6. Educate Yourself on Unconscious Bias

Unconscious bias is something we all have, and it can trip us up big time!

There is a vital caveat to bear in mind when wondering about whether you can trust your gut and the feelings your body gives you, and that’s having an awareness of your unconscious bias. Understanding your own bias–which is hard to do because it literally does happen in our subconscious–can help you to make stronger, better, decisions instead of re-confirming your view of the world over and over again.

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Bias exists, and it’s part of the human condition. All of us have it, and it colors our decisions and can impact on our performance without us realizing.

Unconscious bias happens at a subconscious level in our brains. Our subconscious brain processes information so much faster than our conscious brain. Quick decisions we make in our subconscious are based on both our societal conditioning and how our families raised us.

Our brains process hundreds of thousands of pieces of information daily. We unconsciously categorize and format that information into patterns that feel familiar to us. Aspects such as gender, disability, class, sexuality, body shape and size, ethnicity, and what someone does for a job can all quickly influence decisions we make about people and the relationships we choose to form. Our unconscious bias can be very subtle and go unnoticed..

We naturally tend to gravitate towards people similar to ourselves, favoring people who we see as belonging to the same “group” as us. Being able to make a quick decision about whether someone is part of your group and distinguish friend from foe was what helped early humans to survive. Conversely, we don’t automatically favor people who we don’t immediately relate to or easily connect with.

The downside of that human instinct to seek out similar people is the potential for prejudice, which seems to be hard-wired into human cognition, no matter how open-minded we believe ourselves to be. And these stereotypes we create can be wrong. If we only spend our time with and employ people similar to ourselves, it can create prejudices, as well as stifle fresh thinking and innovation.

We may feel more natural or comfortable working with other people who share our own background and/or opinions than collaborating with people who don’t look, talk, or think like us. However, diversity is not just morally right; having a mix of different people and perspectives that can be genuinely heard is also a valuable way to counter groupthink. Diversity stretches us to think more critically and creatively.

7. Trust Yourself

It is possible to learn how to truly trust yourself[3]. Like any talent or skill, practicing trusting your gut is the best way to get really good at it. When people talk about having great intuition or being good decision-makers, it’s because they’ve worked at honing those skills, made mistakes, learned from them, and tried again.

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Looking back at decisions you’ve made, what you did, what the outcome was, and what you’ve learned can help you become a stronger decision maker and develop solid self-trust and resilience. Making a mistake does not mean you are not great at decision-making; it’s a chance to grow and learn, and the only mistake is to ignore the lesson in that experience.

If you are in the habit of asking others for their input, then the trick here is to choose your inner circle wisely. Having a sounding board of people who have your best interests at heart is a valuable asset, and, combined with your own excellent instincts, can make you a champion decision maker.

The Bottom Line

The above tips are all actionable and easy to start immediately. It’s simply about switching your thinking around, slowing down, and taking great care of this amazing machine that is your body and mind!

Learning how to trust your gut is one of the most fundamental ways to make decisions that will help you lead the life you want and need. Tune into what your body is telling you and start making good decisions today.

More Tips on How to Trust Your Gut

Featured photo credit: Acy Varlan via unsplash.com

Reference

[1] Science of People: Learn to Trust Your Gut Instincts: The Science Behind Thin-slicing
[2] Harvard Health Publishing: The gut-brain connection
[3] Psych Central: 3 Ways to Develop Self-Trust

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