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19 Things Nothing Else But Travelling Alone Can Teach You

19 Things Nothing Else But Travelling Alone Can Teach You

I had this longing to get away from everything and everyone for a while. I had been suffering with an illness for about four years and after continuous negative news from doctors, exhaustion got the better of me. So, I quit my job, bought a one way ticket to the other side of Australia and went travelling for six months with no plan what so ever.

Here are 19 jewels of wisdom I learnt travelling alone and now apply to my everyday life back home in Perth:

1. Depending purely on yourself 

Sometimes we don’t realise how much people can influence us in our every day life, whether it’s our family, friends, partner, collogues or social surroundings. I had been putting too much emphasis on other people’s opinions of what I should do, over listening to my own voice. Travelling on my own was the first time I can really say I truly depended on myself more then ever without feeling bad about it or having to explain myself.

2. Learning a new culture

We can become so accustom to our surroundings, home and society that we operate subconsciously without thinking about whether it’s helping us grow or not. Embracing other cultures and ways of living can broaden our lifestyle views. On the contrary, I grew a deep appreciation for what I had back home like being able to visit my family any time I wanted.

3. Making new friends outside your circle

I became one of those tourists who made sure I let shopkeepers know I wasn’t a local. Not that they asked or anything. Amazing how quickly you can make friends that way by just talking about yourself. Awkward. I was nervous checking out new places with someone I didn’t know. There is nothing like hanging out with that friend (back home) who you can be 100% percent yourself around, however it was exciting to do something I hadn’t done before. I was shown amazing sites, forests, hidden away caves and made memories for a lifetime.

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4. Freedom

The freedom was the best part of travelling alone, doing what I wanted, when I wanted, how I wanted. Whether we are travelling or not this is the ultimate feeling. However, once back home, our daily demands, responsibilities and the people in our lives can be the cause of freedom being a mere fantasy. The feeling of freedom when you are travelling or on holiday, I believe is something you can feel in everyday life. And it’s because of this experience that I pushed towards that belief and implemented it into my daily attitude giving myself more time to do the things I love doing. I feel I am actually living MY life now.

5. Hearing your inner voice

Being alone most of the time, you can hear your thoughts a lot more! Even though I did spend time listening to my thoughts back home, being completely alone for a while heightened them. I was able to listen a lot more and see aspects of myself that I had ignored or not even noticed. It definitely sharpened the importance of digging deeper into myself and really focusing on my inner thoughts, habits and reactions to life.

6. Re-inventing yourself or truly being yourself

No one knows you, so it’s a great opportunity to try that style you think about but haven’t had the courage to try! Or is that just something I daydreamed about? I had been in the corporate world for many years but secretly I wished I could embrace the beach hippie in me at times. Oh and I finally did. I went to the beach almost everyday, left the salty water in my hair for days, wore comfy clothes and my jingle bell anklet. I absolutely enjoyed not having to worry about how I looked for anyone or anything. It certainly made me realise how much effort I put in for people and work, a habit of which I have now definitely broken.

7. Going without make-up

For those who wear make-up everyday, this is such a great opportunity to let your skin breath. I took advantage of letting go of my ‘need’ for make-up as I wore it everyday for work for years and it became second nature. At first it was a vulnerable feeling wearing no make-up to places that I would usually wear it, but after some time I felt liberated and my need for it daily is no longer. I wear it when I want, not because I have too. And do you know how much more time you have on your hands when you don’t have to put on another face? Time gained equals more adventures.

8. Break from Facebook

I took one month off Facebook completely closing my account on my travels. Rather then upload all my adventures and check in everywhere, I wrote about it in my journal. Spending time in nature without the use of Facebook or my phone on many occasions, became a clear indication of how much I was using it mindlessly and missing out on what’s going on around me. It was liberating to disconnect for a while and be content with the moment, with the view and with my own thoughts. The mind needs to be free at times to be creative, to think clearly and to refresh.

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9. Doing all the things you have been putting off

There is more time on your hands to do some of the things you put aside due to restrictions and responsibilities at home. Depending on your interests and hobbies, this can be a great way to throw yourself into your passions using inspiration from your travels. I spent so much time reading and writing which actually assisted in my pursuing of it now.

10. Reassessing your life

I wanted to study for years and also write, but due to focusing on Real Estate, I kept postponing it. Whilst being I was away I made the decision to go after my dreams and stop waiting for the perfect moment. Re-assessing my life helped me let go of what did not serve purpose in my life anymore and having the courage to pursue what I believed did.

11. Experience and memories only you know about

We love sharing memories and experiences with others, but lets face it when we share our stories of travelling with most people they are hardly interested. Doing things that only you know about is actually a wild feeling. It’s like a friendship between you and yourself that no one understands, experiences only you feel. Keeping them close to your heart is sometimes better then sharing. I definitely built a better relationship with myself and smile at all the wonderful things I have done, on my own.

12. Trusting yourself to think and decide for yourself

I was always someone who gained advise from others who I trusted and whilst their advise wasn’t ‘wrong’, it was my need for it that kept me away from doing what was in my heart to do. I didn’t trust myself enough to follow through with ideas that I had, also leaning on my career as an excuse many times. Until I went travelling alone, I wasn’t aware of how much I relied on others rather then myself. Trusting my inner intuitions and what I think is best for me has assisted in my health, physically and mentally. The unknown doesn’t seem so scary now. Sometimes we want people to advise us because we are too fearful of taking a step out on our own, but what if what they are saying is the reason you prevent yourself from living your dreams?

13. Overcoming the fear of being alone

Doing everything by yourself for a period of time shows you how much you really can be happy, content and safe in your own company when you want to be. It breaks the tendency to just ‘hang’ with people due to not wanting to be alone. I will admit, there were periods of time where it felt awful on Saturday nights with no one but myself, however, I got through just fine and I became more engaged in my writing, reading and music. Sometimes over socialising is a distraction from doing what we really need to do on our own; self-development.

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14. Patience

From observation, in today’s world patience is a characteristic in the human being that is being very quickly replaced with the need for everything now. Whether it is success, the ‘perfect’ body, money, overcoming battles, relationships, there is urgency in our social surroundings to scrap patience and rush through life. I wasn’t working and I didn’t know what the next day would bring or whether I would have enough money to keep travelling. As I committed myself to being open to whatever happens is meant to be, patience grew. I was able to grasp the importance of patience and put it to practice.

15. People back home

Being apart from loved ones is difficult but it is also a great way to strengthen the bonds you have. It was also an eye opener to how much I gave myself to some people who took our friendship for granted. When it comes to friendships quality over quantity is best and the time away really set that in stone. I came back uninterested in friendships that were filled with neediness, control and drama. My time is precious and I finally took the courage in setting barriers against the life suckers. Amazing how time away alone can really open your eyes to unhealthy friendships that were right under your nose for a long time.

16. Gratitude

The amount of gratitude I experienced came on many levels. I really appreciated the opportunity to be able to travel as well as what I already had back home. I met a woman on my travels that really placed emphasis on the importance of taking the time to be thankful for things in your life daily and how you will receive more by doing so. Taking it on board straight away, I started voicing my thank you to life and looking for things to be thankful for. A deep appreciation for what I have each day, the people I meet and the challenges that come my way has opened my heart to the blessings that are existent every single day.

17. Time to re-focus on your health

As we are always growing and changing, so do our bodies. Different circumstance in our life may bring about better or worse health. For many years I suffered with an ongoing illness, doctors and specialists had no answers for me and I grew exhausted from the never ending bad news. I was leading a healthy life but something was missing. Part of the reason I decided to travel alone was to explore other avenues of gaining health after researching stories of people who had made amazing comebacks after serious illnesses. I spent majority of my time focusing on my health, relaxing, distressing, researching, trying out new foods, meeting people in the health industry and again being open to other ways. It was a big wake up call to stretch myself and knowledge in nutrition and the viscous poison of stress! Let’s just say I don’t suffer with illness anymore.

18. Not caring what anyone thinks

As I walking down to the beach one particular day, in short shorts and my pale white skin I felt insecurity setting in as I compared myself to the beach babes that were like…everywhere! Thankfully a wonderful and very true thought struck me, why do I care about what others think of me? And how do I even know if people think about me? I mean, conceited much? It was in that moment I made a choice to push aside those limiting thoughts and be proud of who I am, even if I have cellulite wobbling around. Beaching it on the Gold Coast daily, with that new insight made it so much more enjoyable.

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19. Going with the flow

I seriously got a really big dose of what it feels like to go with the flow. Every time I feel fear or stress creeping in, I think back to this adventure. It has become a reference point and reminder of how letting go and being open to whatever happens, can do wonders in your life.

This was a decision that changed my life for the better. Doing something completely for myself, out of my comfort zone has bought about expansion and awareness.Try it for yourself and add to the list!

Happy travels!

 

Featured photo credit: http://photopin.com/search/gold-coast

Featured photo credit: photopin via photopin.com

More by this author

Anjelica Ilovi

Anjelica writes about how to grind and unwind for increased productivity, focus and joyful living anjelicailovi.com {grind + unwind}

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Last Updated on September 30, 2020

How to Live in the Moment and Stop Worrying About the Future

How to Live in the Moment and Stop Worrying About the Future

We often hear people talk about the importance of living in the present and the different ways it will benefit us. It all sounds wonderful, especially the lower levels of stress and anxiety, but how exactly can we live in the moment when our mind is constantly worrying about the past or plans for the future?

In this article, we’ll discuss some of the benefits of living in the moment you may not be aware of. Then, we’ll look at some of the obstacles and why we worry. Finally, and most importantly, I’ll show you how to live in the moment and stop worrying using some simple practices that you can easily incorporate into your busy schedule.

The result: a happier and more fulfilling life.

The Importance of Living in the Moment

“The secret of health for both mind and body is not to mourn for the past, worry about the future, or anticipate troubles, but to live in the present moment wisely and earnestly.” -Buddha

While it can be difficult to live in the moment, it has innumerable benefits.

Here are just a few that will enhance your life tremendously:

Better Health

By reducing stress and anxiety, you avoid many of the associated health consequences, such as high blood pressure, heart disease, and obesity. Studies have shown that being present can also improve psychological well-being[1].

Improve Your Relationships

Have you ever been with someone who is physically present, but mentally s/he’s a million miles away?

Being with unavailable people is a struggle, and building relationships with them extremely difficult.

How about being with someone who is fully present? We enjoy being with her/him because we can make a much deeper connection.

By living in the moment, you can be that person other people enjoy being with, and you make relationships much easier.

Greater Self-Control

You have greater control over your mind, body, and emotions. Imagine how much better your life would be if it weren’t at the mercy of a racing mind and unpredictable emotions. You would certainly be more at peace, and much happier[2].

Why Do We Worry?

Before we answer this question, it’s important to distinguish between worry and concern.

When we are concerned about something, we are more likely dealing with a real problem with realistic solutions. Then, once we do whatever we can to address the problem, we’re willing to live with the outcome.

Worrying, on the other hand, involves unrealistic thinking. We may worry about a problem that doesn’t really exist, or dwell on all the bad things that can happen as a result. Then, we feel unable to deal with the outcome. Either way, we have difficulty dealing with uncertainty, which is a normal part of life.

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Certainly, some of our problems may not have desirable outcomes, such as a serious health issue. Some problems may be beyond our control, such as civil unrest or economic downturn. In such cases, it can be hard to avoid worrying, but not impossible.

3 Steps to Start to Live in the Moment

Step 1: Overcome Worrying

In order to overcome worrying, we need to do two things:

Calm Your Mind

When you calm your mind, you are able to see more clearly.

The reason some problems seem so daunting is that our mind is racing so fast that we cannot see things as they truly are. Then, we make up a bunch of possible scenarios in our mind, most of which are unlikely to come true.

In addition to seeing more clearly, a calm mind will help us think more realistically. Unrealistic thinking is fueled by confusion and uncontrolled emotions. Calming your mind will reduce confusion and calm your emotions, allowing you to live in the present.

Focus on Solutions Instead of Problems

Some people tend to be more solution-oriented, and others more problem-oriented. Some of the factors that may determine this are gender, upbringing, and education.

People with more education tend to be problem-solvers. That is what their years of education train them to do. In addition, their jobs probably reinforce this way of thinking.

If you’re not problem-solving oriented, don’t worry. You can train yourself to worry less. We’ll discuss that soon.

Step 2: Identify Obstacles to Living in the Moment

In today’s busy world, it can be a challenge to live in the moment. The reasons revolve around how our mind works, as well as outside influences.

Racing Mind

Many busy people have a racing mind that never seems to slow down. Their mind gets so agitated from too much sensory stimulation.

You see, anything that stimulates any of our five senses will trigger a thought, and that thought leads to another, and then another, and so on.

If you have a busy life, all your activities will overstimulate your mind and make it seemingly impossible to slow it down.

Unpleasant Situations and a Troublesome Past

None of us want to be in unpleasant situations, or remember those of the past. They can bring up painful emotions, which we don’t want to feel.

So how do most people cope with painful emotions?

By doing whatever we can to avoid them, we can take our mind to another place and time where things are more pleasant.

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In other words, we avoid living in the present moment.

Some people resort to things that stimulate sensory pleasure, such as food, alcohol, or sex. Others will consume substances that dull their mind and keep them from thinking about unpleasant or stressful situations.

A Wandering Mind

From the moment we are born (likely sooner) until the time we die, our body and mind are active performing some function. Therefore, it’s natural for our mind to have some level of activity, whether conscious or unconscious.

Generally, a wandering mind is unproductive. One thought starts an endless chain of thoughts, and this process can go on until we need our mind to perform a specific function or get distracted with something else.

Now, there are times when a wandering mind can be productive, such as when creating works of art, or trying to find creative solutions to problems. In such cases, we need our mind to explore different possibilities[3].

Outside Influences

Most of us are not fully aware of how our environment and social norms influence our thinking and behavior. People and institutions are constantly competing for our attention. The media draws our attention to the past, and advertising usually to the future[4].

Many people around us who dwell on the past or future try to draw us to their way of thinking. Even the whole concept of the American dream is geared toward the future. It tells us that if we acquire things like a good career, family, and house, then we’ll be happy.

Step 3: Practice Mindfulness

So how can we live in the moment in a world that is constantly trying to draw our attention to the past and future?

Before we get into concrete actions you can take, it’s important to understand what mindfulness is. You’ve probably heard the term before, but may not fully understand what it means.

Understand Mindfulness

The concept of mindfulness is actually quite simple. To be mindful is to live in the moment.

When you are mindful, your attention is focused on what is happening in the present moment, and you are fully in touch with reality[5].

You are aware of what is happening in your body, mind, emotions, and the world around you. This is different than thinking about these things. To develop greater understanding, you don’t have to think about them so much, but rather just observe them.

This may be counterintuitive to many people, especially intellectuals, because they’re so used to using logic to develop greater understanding. With mindfulness, we calm our mind and emotions so we can see clearer. Then, much of our understanding will come from simple observation. When we develop mindfulness, we literally expand our awareness.

To develop mindfulness, we need to train ourselves to observe things more objectively, that is, without our emotions or preconceived ideas influencing our views.

If you’re ready to live a better life, read on for some simple mindfulness practices that you can incorporate into your daily routine to help you live in the moment.

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You don’t have to do all of them, but rather choose the ones that appeal to you and suit your lifestyle.

Mindfulness Meditation

Mindfulness meditation is the mainstay of developing mindfulness and living in the moment. To practice mindfulness meditation, all you really have to do is sit quietly and follow your breathing. When your mind wanders off, just bring it back to your breath.

Notice how your lungs expand with each in-breath and contract with each out-breath. Let your breathing become relaxed and natural.

You don’t have to do it perfectly. The idea is to start spending time away from the constant sensory stimulation of all your activities, and just allow it to settle down naturally. Start with about 5 to 10 minutes per day and work your way up to about 20 minutes or longer.

This practice is highly effective, and can have both short-term and long-term benefits.

If you want to learn more about mindfulness meditation, take a look at this article: What Is Mindfulness Meditation? 7 Ways to Start Meditating

Mindful Breathing

While this may sound the same as mindfulness meditation, all you’re really doing is taking short breaks occasionally (10 to 15 seconds) to observe your breathing. Stop whatever you’re doing, and take a few mindful breaths, then resume your activity. That’s it.

You can do mindful breathing at any time of the day during your busy schedule. What it does is interrupt the acceleration of your mind. It is like taking your foot off the accelerator while driving. It’s a nice refreshing break you can take without anyone noticing.

Here’re some breathing exercises you can try to learn: 5 Breathing Exercises for Anxiety (Simple and Calm Anxiety Quickly)

Mindful Walking

Walking is an activity that you perform several times throughout the day. We often think we’re being productive by texting or calling someone while walking. But are we really?

Instead of getting on your cell phone or letting your mind wander off, why not use your walking to train yourself to live in the moment and focus on the task at hand?

Mindful walking is similar to mindful breathing, but instead of focusing on your breath, focus on your walking. Pay attention to each footstep. Also, notice the different motions of your arms, legs, and torso. When your mind wanders off, just bring your attention back to your walking.

You can even make a meditation out of walking. That is, go walking for a few minutes outside. Start by slowing down your pace. If you slow down your body, your mind will follow.

In addition to paying attention to your walking, notice the trees, sunshine, and critters. A mindful walk is enjoyable and can really help your mind settle down.

You can discover more benefits of walking in nature here.

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Mindful Eating

Eating is an activity that most of us perform mindlessly. The reason is that it doesn’t require your attention to perform. Therefore, many of us try to multitask while we eat. We may talk on the phone, text, watch TV, or even hold a meeting.

The problem with not eating mindfully is that we don’t eat what our body and mind need to perform at an optimal level[6]. We may eat unhealthy foods, or too much. This can lead to various health problems, especially as we get older.

Live in the present with mindful eating.

    Mindful eating has many health benefits, such as reduced food cravings, better digestion, and even weight loss[7].

    So how do you eat mindfully? Start by slowing down, and avoid the temptation to distract yourself with another activity. Here are 3 different aspects of eating where you can practice mindfulness:

    • Eating itself: Focus your attention on choosing a portion of food to insert into your mouth. Notice the smell, flavor, and texture as you chew it; then finally swallow it. As with following your breath during meditation, pay close attention to every aspect of eating.
    • Choice of foods: Although you’ve already chosen your food before you have begun eating, you can still take the opportunity to contemplate your choices. Think about the nutrients your body needs to sustain itself.
    • Contemplating the sources: Most of us don’t think about all the work it takes to provide us with the food we eat. While you’re eating, consider all the work by the farmer, shipping company, and the grocery store. These are real people who worked hard to provide you with the food necessary for your survival.

    You can find more tips about mindful eating here: 7 Simple Steps to Mindful Eating

    Mindful Activities

    Choose an activity that you perform regularly, such as washing dishes. Focus all your attention on this activity, and resist the temptation to let your mind wander,. When it does, just bring your attention back to washing dishes.

    Notice some of the specific movements or sensations of washing dishes, such as how the soapy water feels on your hands, the circular motion of scrubbing the dish, or the rinsing. You’d be surprised at how such a mundane activity can truly expand your awareness.

    You can choose any activity you like, such as ironing, folding clothes, mowing the lawn, or showering. Over time, you will begin doing all these activities with greater mindfulness.

    Final Thoughts

    Practicing mindfulness is like regularly putting small amounts of change in a jar. They will all add up over time, and this will add up to greater peace and happiness, as well as get you closer to achieving your goals.

    Remember, you don’t have to do the mindfulness practices perfectly to get the benefits. All you have to do is keep bringing your mind back to the present moment when it wanders off.

    Practicing mindfulness may be a bit challenging in the beginning, but I can assure you it will get easier.

    The benefits of living in the moment are well within your reach, no matter how much your mind is racing. If you stick with these mindfulness practices, you too will learn how to live in the moment and stop worrying. When you do, a whole new world will open up for you. This is what Zen master Thich Nhat Hanh calls the ultimate reality.

    More About Living in the Present

    Featured photo credit: Smile Su via unsplash.com

    Reference

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