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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 January 24, 2021

How to Say No When You Know You Say Yes Too Often

How to Say No When You Know You Say Yes Too Often

Do you say yes so often that you no longer feel that your own needs are being met? Are you wondering how to say no to people?

For years, I was a serial people pleaser[1]. Known as someone who would step up, I would gladly make time, especially when it came to volunteering for certain causes. I proudly carried this role all through grade school, college, even through law school. For years, I thought saying “no” meant I would disappoint a good friend or someone I respected.

But somewhere along the way, I noticed I wasn’t quite living my life. Instead, I seem to have created a schedule that was a strange combination of meeting the expectations of others, what I thought I should be doing, and some of what I actually wanted to do. The result? I had a packed schedule that left me overwhelmed and unfulfilled.

It took a long while, but I learned the art of saying no. Saying no meant I no longer catered fully to everyone else’s needs and could make more room for what I really wanted to do. Instead of cramming too much in, I chose to pursue what really mattered. When that happened, I became a lot happier.

And guess what? I hardly disappointed anyone.

The Importance of Saying No

When you learn the art of saying no, you begin to look at the world differently. Rather than seeing all of the things you could or should be doing (and aren’t doing), you start to look at how to say yes to what’s important.

In other words, you aren’t just reacting to what life throws at you. You seek the opportunities that move you to where you want to be.

Successful people aren’t afraid to say no. Oprah Winfrey, considered one of the most successful women in the world, confessed that it was much later in life when she learned how to say no. Even after she had become internationally famous, she felt she had to say yes to virtually everything.

Being able to say no also helps you manage your time better.

Warren Buffett views “no” as essential to his success. He said:

“The difference between successful people and really successful people is that really successful people say no to almost everything.”

When I made “no” a part of my toolbox, I drove more of my own success, focusing on fewer things and doing them well.

How We Are Pressured to Say Yes

It’s no wonder a lot of us find it hard to say no.

From an early age, we are conditioned to say yes. We said yes probably hundreds of times in order to graduate from high school and then get into college. We said yes to find work, to get a promotion, to find love and then yes again to stay in a relationship. We said yes to find and keep friends.

We say yes because we feel good when we help someone, because it can seem like the right thing to do, because we think that is key to success, and because the request might come from someone who is hard to resist.

And that’s not all. The pressure to say yes doesn’t just come from others. We put a lot of pressure on ourselves.

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At work, we say yes because we compare ourselves to others who seem to be doing more than we are. Outside of work, we say yes because we are feeling bad that we aren’t doing enough to spend time with family or friends.

The message, no matter where we turn, is nearly always, “You really could be doing more.” The result? When people ask us for our time, we are heavily conditioned to say yes.

How Do You Say No Without Feeling Guilty?

Deciding to add the word “no” to your toolbox is no small thing. Perhaps you already say no, but not as much as you would like. Maybe you have an instinct that if you were to learn the art of no that you could finally create more time for things you care about.

But let’s be honest, using the word “no” doesn’t come easily for many people.

3 Rules of Thumbs for Saying No

1. You Need to Get Out of Your Comfort Zone

Let’s face it. It is hard to say no. Setting boundaries around your time, especially you haven’t done it much in the past, will feel awkward. Your comfort zone is “yes,” so it’s time to challenge that and step outside that.

If you need help getting out of your comfort zone, check out this article.

2. You Are the Air Traffic Controller of Your Time

When you want to learn how to say no, remember that you are the only one who understands the demands for your time. Think about it: who else knows about all of the demands in your life? No one.

Only you are at the center of all of these requests. You are the only one that understands what time you really have.

3. Saying No Means Saying Yes to Something That Matters

When we decide not to do something, it means we can say yes to something else that we may care more about. You have a unique opportunity to decide how you spend your precious time.

6 Ways to Start Saying No

Incorporating that little word “no” into your life can be transformational. Turning some things down will mean you can open doors to what really matters. Here are some essential tips to learn the art of no:

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1. Check in With Your Obligation Meter

One of the biggest challenges to saying no is a feeling of obligation. Do you feel you have a responsibility to say yes and worry that saying no will reflect poorly on you?

Ask yourself whether you truly have the duty to say yes. Check your assumptions or beliefs about whether you carry the responsibility to say yes. Turn it around and instead ask what duty you owe to yourself.

2. Resist the Fear of Missing out (FOMO)

Do you have a fear of missing out (FOMO)? FOMO can follow us around in so many ways. At work, we volunteer our time because we fear we won’t move ahead. In our personal lives, we agree to join the crowd because of FOMO, even while we ourselves aren’t enjoying the fun.

Check in with yourself. Are you saying yes because of FOMO or because you really want to say yes? More often than not, running after fear doesn’t make us feel better[2].

3. Check Your Assumptions About What It Means to Say No

Do you dread the reaction you will get if you say no? Often, we say yes because we worry about how others will respond or because of the consequences. We may be afraid to disappoint others or think we will lose their respect. We often forget how much we are disappointing ourselves along the way.

Keep in mind that saying no can be exactly what is needed to send the right message that you have limited time. In the tips below, you will see how to communicate your no in a gentle and loving way.

You might disappoint someone initially, but drawing a boundary can bring you the freedom you need so that you can give freely of yourself when you truly want to. And it will often help others have more respect for you and your boundaries, not less.

4. When the Request Comes in, Sit on It

Sometimes, when we are in the moment, we instinctively agree. The request might make sense at first. Or we typically have said yes to this request in the past.

Give yourself a little time to reflect on whether you really have the time or can do the task properly. You may decide the best option is to say no. There is no harm in giving yourself the time to decide.

5. Communicate Your “No” with Transparency and Kindness

When you are ready to tell someone no, communicate your decision clearly. The message can be open and honest[3] to ensure the recipient that your reasons have to do with your limited time.

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How do you say no? 9 Healthy Ways to Say “No”

    Resist the temptation not to respond or communicate all. But do not feel obligated to provide a lengthy account about why you are saying no.

    Clear communication with a short explanation is all that is needed. I have found it useful to tell people that I have many demands and need to be careful with how I allocate my time. I will sometimes say I really appreciate that they came to me and for them to check in again if the opportunity arises another time.

    6. Consider How to Use a Modified No

    If you are under pressure to say yes but want to say no, you may want to consider downgrading a “yes” to a “yes but…” as this will give you an opportunity to condition your agreement to what works best for you.

    Sometimes, the condition can be to do the task, but not in the time frame that was originally requested. Or perhaps you can do part of what has been asked.

    Final Thoughts

    Beginning right now, you can change how you respond to requests for your time. When the request comes in, take yourself off autopilot where you might normally say yes.

    Use the request as a way to draw a healthy boundary around your time. Pay particular attention to when you place certain demands on yourself.

    Try it now. Say no to a friend who continues to take advantage of your goodwill. Or, draw the line with a workaholic colleague and tell them you will complete the project, but not by working all weekend. You’ll find yourself much happier.

    More Tips on How to Say No

    Featured photo credit: Chris Ainsworth via unsplash.com

    Reference

    [1] Science of People: 11 Expert Tips to Stop Being a People Pleaser and Start Doing You
    [2] Anxiety and Depression Association of America: Tips to Get Over Your FOMO, or Fear of Missing Out
    [3] Cooks Hill Counseling: 9 Healthy Ways to Say “No”

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