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20 Unforgettable Lessons You Can Learn From Traveling The World

20 Unforgettable Lessons You Can Learn From Traveling The World

There are only two mistakes one can make along the road to truth; not going all the way, and not starting.

I can add another mistake along this road. and that is:

“Not looking at what is actually in front of you”

The first is a quote from Buddha and the last is a quote from me. Both are important.

In our radio show yesterday, my co-host, Sally Nutter and I talked about how, under moments of stress or confusion, a person can make a decision about someone or something, or even a whole group of someones. These decisions stick and they may work to handle the confusion the person feels at the time, but that person then puts up this decision and looks at IT instead of the actual situation and people in the present. Therefore he is treating the present day world as one painful incident in the past.

You can tell when someone is doing this because their actions and statements don’t make sense. Examples of this are statements like “People are stupid” or “woman/men are not to be trusted.”

These decisions are the roots of prejudice.

If you follow the quotes I gave you, you will actively promote harmony and begin to end prejudice.

Travel and communication with other people is the solution to the world’s problems provided you see each new person for who they really are.

How can you dislike a person who loves his family, values his community and reaches out to visitors?

The only way to do that is to fail to see the person in front of you as a new person and only see the shadow of a past enemy instead.

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Travel and communication with live people, without prejudgement, and with understanding is the key to our survival as a human species.
That is a strong statement but it is true. The more people who travel and meet and talk to new people, the more peace we will have. It follows as naturally as the calm after the storm.

There are so many life lessons to be learned from travelling. Since I have done tons of travel and own a place in a tiny village in Southern Italy, I can tell you some of my favorites.

1. You learn a lot about life.

There is nothing like diving out of your comfort zone to make you realize that you are a newbie in life no matter what your age. There are so many things to learn such as how to get a meal in an Italian restaurant when the menus are in Italian and you don’t speak Italian. (Hint: Go to Duolingo.com and learn some of the basic menu items from where you are going. They also have lots of fun language learning games.)

2. You are never alone.

You can make friends anywhere. Be the first to smile. Make an effort to join in their celebrations or simply ask them questions about their lives. This is all it takes.

3. You meet unforgettable people.

Several years ago, I purchased a small apt in Southern Italy. It has been magical.

One of my most treasured friendships is the one I found with the lady who owns the little grocery store in Santa Domenica Talao. Her name is Nunzia and we loved each other from the moment we met.

We still struggle with the language a bit but that doesn’t seem to matter. Every time I arrive, kisses rain down on me, spontaneous hugs erupt out of nowhere and I have been pulled into the bosom of the village through her acceptance and love.

In the morning I go to her shop for coffee. I love to watch as the villagers come in for their produce (buying or selling) and an update on whatever is happening in the village or surrounding area. And every day Nunzia saves the freshest eggs for me behind her counter.

She is an amazing lady whom I adore. Who knew I would find her tending a little store, in a medieval village in Southern Italy?

4. You learn to enjoy transient relationships

On a recent trip, I ended up taking the slow train from Cremona in the North to my place down South. I spent 13 hours in a train that stopped at every station. Happily I shared a compartment with a group of people from Naples.

If you have not met folks from Naples, I can tell you that they are so much fun! The train barely started when questions were asked about me, where I was from, where I was going, and what I was interested in. Food was opened and passed around. discussions were had. The young girl next to me asked me to translate every word she could think of into English so she could wow her friends. We had a great time!

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At the end, no numbers were exchanged, just simply the promise to look for them when I visit Naples and the idea that Naples will be a perfect destination for my next trip.

5. You have to try new things.

Whether you are staring at a menu realizing you have no idea what the items are, or jumping on a bus that you hope will get you somewhere familiar, travel is exciting. You have to do new things. It is all about getting yourself into situations and turning them into amazing experiences.

6. There are no “mistakes”

Ok maybe one or two. Don’t eat anything you would not step on in your bare feet (one of my important life rules) and if the water is not good, don’t drink it or eat anything that has not been cooked.

Other than that, go and have some fun. Read up in the culture before you go and when something goes off plan, turn it into an exciting experience.

Oh and make sure you have an emergency packet of tissues as you never know about train station bathrooms!

Aragonese Castle, Pizzo, Italy

    7. You find the value in getting lost.

    Really! Get lost in a city then wander around. The great thing is there are taxis all over the place and you can always dive into one when you get tired.

    There is nothing like being lost in Rome where every street corner has another spectacular sculpture; or being lost in Brussels where every neighborhood has a cluster of bistros or bakeries.

    There is so much to see and experience that is not in the guide books. Go off plan and get lost!

    Pizzo, Italy

      8. You get out of your environment

      Every time I travel, I find that that I can view my life from the outside and find solutions or changes that I never would have seen if I had not gotten away from it all.

      As we live our lives, we keep our heads down and we keep going. Any problems we have, we are in them. When you travel, you get outside of them and can solve them.

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      We always seem to have solutions for other people’s problems but struggle with our own. That is because we are IN our problems and it is difficult to find solutions to something you are inside of.

      9. You learn to forget the plan.

      When I travel, I make an outline but not a rigid plan. There are always things I want to see and do, but the last thing I want is to be a slave to a schedule. Make your trip elastic. See what you want to see but leave lots of time to drift.

      Visit the church you stumbled on, on your way to the Vatican or just go out and bob in the sea until dinner time.

      I am usually a type A personality but one of my favorite pastimes in Southern Italy is getting my little air mattress and bobbing in the sea. I look at the sky, watch the kids play in the water, think about dinner… I relax. The monuments will be there next time. Don’t deny yourself this luxury!

      10. You learn to talk to people

      There is nothing like struggling with another language to get you looking at people as they are. Hilarious grammer errors are made and laughs are shared. It is a golden opportunity to fall in love with people. That is one of my favorite pastimes too!

      Crypts In Rome

        11. You absorb history.

        We, in the US have history, but in Europe, they laugh. “200 years?” they say, “Why, that was just yesterday!”

        What do houses look like that have stood for over 300 years? What do churches look like? How were the villages laid out? There is so much history in the most humble village anywhere that you end up absorbing it. When you put present day in context with history, art, music and all the other cultural aspects, it is a rich tapestry indeed.

        12. You learn new cuisines

        I cannot go to a restaurant in a foreign country without mentally reverse engineering the food that I am eating. As soon as I get home I try it out. Many times your waiter will tell you the recipe!

        When you go to a store in Italy, not only do you get the ingredients you need to make a dish but you get a full description of exactly how to go home and make it.

        Last time I was there I learned how to make a perfect pasta fagiole made with pink beans that you can only find in the local markets. I also learned  to steam a perfect Filetto ( I think it was sea bass) freshly pulled from the Mediterranean that morning and purchased off the fish van that visits the village at dawn.

        13. You understand a different way of life.

        I was having dinner with my friend Nunzia and I asked her what it was like growing up in a tiny village on the top of a hill in Southern Italy. She told me that all of the people in the village were her family. Births and deaths affect everyone in the village exactly as it affects the family.

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        I could see that everyone in the village was loved and admired. Faults were overlooked and everyone pulled together. It was a totally new look at a life I never knew existed and want to create in my area at home.

        14. You fall in love

        I don’t know why it is, but everyone I meet in my travels is a wonderful person. On occasion I have met someone gruff or even unfriendly but 99% of the people I meet are amazing.

        One day, I was walking in Diamente. As I turned a corner, a tiny little lady came out and stared at me. Immediately she called out “Aie che bella duona!” (What a beautiful lady!) and came toward me her arms outstretched. I fell into her embrace and was patted and kissed as though I was a long lost relative. How great is that? I decided at that point that I loved Diamante and always go there when I am in Italy.

        15. You learn to change quickly

        As you travel, anything can happen and you may end up in a pretty strange situation. The wily traveler learns to change quickly. Travelling is fraught with unknowns. you learn to think on your feet and solve problems efficiently.

        16. You learn other languages.

        Even if you go to many different places and even if you don’t make a huge effort to learn the languages of the people whose country you visit, simply seeing street signs and restaurant menus teaches you a part of the local language. Hearing a language spoken around you gives you a feel for the rhythm of it and you feel more at home around it.

        17. You start to understand different cultures

        There is nothing like living amongst people of other cultures to make you understand why people do what they do. Other religions came from somewhere. So did ideas, moral codes and art. Each culture has its treasures. Dig them up and enjoy them.

        18. You learn how to travel.

        Travelling itself is a skill. After carting around a giant suitcase and trying to stuff it through tiny train doors on an extended visit to Europe, you learn that there are some things you can do without. You learn to decipher railway schedules. You learn what to do when you take the wrong bus and end up God knows where. All of these skills make regular life at home so much easier.

        19. You develop confidence.

        After travelling and learning all of these new things, you start to realize how smart you are. After all, you made it to your destination, found your connecting flights, ordered food and somehow made it through a new experience. You are pretty resourceful!

        20. You find out that we are all one people.

        There is nothing like travelling to make you realize that when we talk about going to war with another country, the people that will be harmed are the people you met in the café, the children you saw on their way to school, and the families you see strolling the streets arm in arm in the evening. Suddenly it becomes personal. Suddenly, it is not ok to see them injured or killed.

        Of all of the benefits of travelling, I think that this is the most far reaching and the most important. People are our most treasured gifts here in this life. Go meet them. Develop a love for other cultures, religions and lifestyles. Let them see that we are all one too. I believe that if we do this we can change the world, One travelling peace maker at a time.

        Write me of your experiences! I would love to hear them!

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        Published on November 14, 2018

        Why You Suffer from Constant Fatigue and How to Deal with It

        Why You Suffer from Constant Fatigue and How to Deal with It

        With our busy, always on lives, it seems that more and more of us are facing constant tiredness and fatigue on a regular basis.

        For many people, they just take this in their stride as part of modern life, but for others the impact can be crippling and can have a serious effect on their sense of wellbeing, health and productivity.

        In this article, I’ll share some of the most common causes of constant tiredness and fatigue and give you some guidance and action steps you can take to overcome some of the symptoms of fatigue.

        Why Am I Feeling Fatigued?

        Fatigue is extreme tiredness resulting from mental or physical exertion or illness.  It is a reduction in the efficiency of a muscle or organ after prolonged activity.[1]

        It can affect anyone, and most adults will experience fatigue at some point in their life. 

        For many people, fatigue is caused by a combination of lifestyle, social, psychological and general wellbeing issues rather than an underlying medical condition.

        Although fatigue is sometimes described as tiredness, it is different to just feeling tired or sleepy. Everyone feels tired at some point, but this is usually resolved with a nap or a few nights of good sleep. Someone who is sleepy may also feel temporarily refreshed after exercising. If you are getting enough sleep, good nutrition and exercising regularly but still find it hard to perform, concentrate or be motivated at your normal levels, you may be experiencing a level of fatigue that needs further investigation. 

        Symptoms of Fatigue

        Fatigue can cause a vast range of physical, mental and emotional symptoms including:

        • chronic tiredness, exhaustion or sleepiness
        • mental blocks
        • lack of motivation
        • headache
        • dizziness
        • muscle weakness
        • slowed reflexes and responses
        • impaired decision-making and judgement
        • moodiness, such as irritability
        • impaired hand-to-eye coordination
        • reduced immune system function
        • blurry vision
        • short-term memory problems
        • poor concentration
        • reduced ability to pay attention to the situation at hand

        Causes of Fatigue

        The wide range of causes that can trigger fatigue include:

        • Medical causes: Constant exhaustion, tiredness and fatigue may be a sign of an underlying illness, such as a thyroid disorder, heart disease, anemia or diabetes.
        • Lifestyle-related causes: Being overweight and a lack of regular exercise can lead to feelings of fatigue.  Lack of sleep and overcommitting can also create feelings of excessive tiredness and fatigue.
        • Workplace-related causes: Workplace and financial stress in a variety of forms can lead to feelings of fatigue.
        • Emotional concerns and stress: Fatigue is a common symptom of mental health problems, such as depression and grief, and may be accompanied by other signs and symptoms, including irritability and lack of motivation.

        Fatigue can also be caused by a number of factors working in combination.

        Medical Causes of Fatigue

        If you have made lifestyle changes to increase your energy and still feel exhausted and fatigued, it may be time to seek guidance from your doctor.

        Here are a few examples of illnesses that can cause ongoing fatigue. Seek medical advice if you suspect you have a health problem:

        Anemia

        Anemia is a condition in which you don’t have enough healthy red blood cells to carry adequate oxygen to the body’s tissues. It is a common cause of fatigue in women.

        Having anemia may make you feel tired and weak.

        There are many forms of anemia, each with its own cause. Anemia can be temporary or long term, and it can range from mild to severe.[2]

        Chronic Fatigue Syndrome (CFS)

        Chronic Fatigue Syndrome (CFS) is a condition that can cause persistent, unexplained fatigue that interferes with daily activities for more than six months.

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        This is a chronic condition with no one-size-fits-all treatment, but lifestyle changes can often help ease some symptoms of fatigue.[3]

        Diabetes

        Diabetes can cause fatigue with either high or low blood sugars. When your sugars are high, they remain in the bloodstream instead of being used for energy, which makes you feel fatigued. Low blood sugar (glucose) means you may not have enough fuel for energy, also causing fatigue.[4]

        Sleep Apnea

        Sleep apnea is a serious sleep disorder where sufferers briefly stop breathing for short periods during sleep. Most people are not aware this is happening, but it can cause loud snoring, and daytime fatigue.

        Being overweight, smoking, and drinking alcohol can all worsen the symptoms of sleep apnea.[5]

        Thyroid disease

        An underactive thyroid gland means you have too little thyroid hormone (thyroxine) in your body. This makes you feel tired and you could also put on weight and have aching muscles and dry skin.[6]

        Common lifestyle factors that can cause fatigue include:

        • Lack of sleep
        • Too much sleep 
        • Alcohol and drugs 
        • Sleep disturbances 
        • Lack of regular exercise and sedentary behaviour 
        • Poor diet 

        Common workplace issues that can cause fatigue include:

        • Shift work: Our body is designed to sleep during the night. A shift worker may confuse their circadian clock by working when their body is programmed to be asleep.
        • Poor workplace practices: This may include long work hours, hard physical labour, irregular working hours (such as rotating shifts), a stressful work environment, boredom or working alone. 
        • Workplace stress – This can be caused by a wide range of factors including job dissatisfaction, heavy workload, conflicts with bosses or colleagues, bullying, or threats to job security.
        • Burnout: This could be striving too hard on one area of your life while neglecting others, which leads to a life that feels out of balance.

        Psychological Causes of Fatigue

        Psychological factors are present in many cases of extreme tiredness and fatigue.  These may include:

        • Depression: Depression is characterised by severe and prolonged feelings of sadness, dejection and hopelessness. People who are depressed commonly experience chronic fatigue.
        • Anxiety and stress: Someone who is constantly anxious or stressed keeps their body in overdrive. The constant flooding of adrenaline exhausts the body, and fatigue sets in.
        • Grief: Losing a loved one causes a wide range of emotions including shock, guilt, depression, despair and loneliness.

        How to Tackle Constant Fatigue

        Here are 12 ways you can start tackling the causes of fatigue and start feeling more energetic.

        1. Tell The Truth

        Some people can numb themselves to the fact that they are overtired or fatigued all the time. In the long run, this won’t help you.

        To give you the best chance to overcome or eliminate fatigue, you must diagnose and tell the truth about the things that are draining your energy, making you tired or causing constant fatigue.

        Once you’re honest with yourself about the activities you’re doing in your life that you find irritating, energy-draining, and make you tired on a regular basis you can make a commitment to stop doing them.

        The help that you need to overcome fatigue is available to you, but not until you tell the truth about it. The first person you have to sell on getting rid of the causes of fatigue is yourself.

        One starting point is to diagnose the symptoms. When you start feeling stressed, overtired or just not operating at your normal energy levels make a note of:

        • How you feel
        • What time of day it is
        • What may have contributed to your fatigue
        • How your mind and body reacts

        This analysis may help you identify, understand and then eliminate very specific causes.

        2. Reduce Your Commitments

        When we have too many things on our plate personally and professionally, we can feel overstretched, causing physical and mental fatigue.

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        If you have committed to things you really don’t want to do, this causes irritability and low emotional engagement. Stack these up throughout your day and week, then your stress levels will rise.

        When these commitments have deadlines associated with them, you may be trying to cram in far too much in a short period of time.  This creates more stress and can affect your decision making ability.

        Start being realistic about how much you can get done. Either reduce the commitments you have or give yourself more time to complete them in.

        3. Get Clear On Your Priorities

        If working on your list of to-do’s or goals becomes too overwhelming, start reducing and prioritizing the things that matter most.

        Start with prioritizing just 3 things every day. When you complete those 3 things, you’ll get a rush of energy and your confidence will grow.

        If you’re trying to juggle too many things and are multi-tasking, your energy levels will drop and you’ll struggle to maintain focus.

        Unfinished projects can make you self-critical and feel guilty which drops energy levels further, creating inaction.

        Make a list of your 3 MIT (Most Important Tasks) for the next day before you go to bed. This will stop you overcommitting and get you excited about what the next day can bring.

        4. Express More Gratitude

        Gratitude and confidence are heavily linked. Just being thankful for what you have and what you’ve achieved increases confidence and makes you feel more optimistic.

        It can help you improve your sense of wellbeing, which can bring on feelings of joy and enthusiasm.

        Try starting a gratitude journal or just note down 3 things you’re grateful for every day.

        5. Focus On Yourself

        Exhaustion and fatigue can arrive by focusing solely on other people’s needs all the time, rather than worrying about and focusing on what you need (and want).

        There are work commitments, family commitments, social commitments. You may start with the best intentions, to put in your best performance at work, to be an amazing parent and friend, to simply help others.

        But sometimes, we extend ourselves too much and go beyond our personal limits to help others. That’s when constant exhaustion can creep up on us.  Which can make us more fatigued.

        We all want to help and do our best for others, but there needs to be some balance. We also need to take some time out just for ourselves to recharge and rejuvenate.

        6. Set Aside Rest and Recovery Time

        Whether it’s a couple of hours, a day off, a mini-break or a proper holiday, time off is essential to help us recover, recharge and refocus.

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        Recovery time helps fend off mental fatigue and allows us to simply kick back and relax.

        The key here, though, is to remove ourselves from the daily challenges that bring on tiredness and fatigue. Here’s how.

        Can you free yourself up completely from work and personal obligations to just rest and recover?

        7. Take a Power Nap

        When you’re feeling tired or fatigued and you have the ability to take a quick 20-minute nap, it could make a big difference to your performance for the rest of the day.

        Napping can improve learning, memory and boost your energy levels quickly.

        This article on the benefit of napping is a useful place to start if you want to learn more: How a 20-Minute Nap at Work Makes You Awake and Productive the Whole Day

        8. Take More Exercise

        The simple act of introducing some form of physical activity into your day can make a huge difference. It can boost energy levels, make you feel much better about yourself and can help you avoid fatigue.

        Find something that fits into your life, be that walking, going to the gym, running or swimming. 

        The key is to ensure the exercise is regular and that you are emotionally engaged and committed to stick with it.

        You could also walk more which will help clear your head and shift your focus away from stressful thoughts.

        9. Get More Quality Sleep

        To avoid tiredness, exhaustion and fatigue, getting enough quality sleep matters. 

        Your body needs sleep to recharge.  Getting the right amount of sleep every night can improve your health, reduce stress levels and help us improve our memory and learning skills.

        My previous article on The Benefits of Sleep You Need to Know will give you some action steps to start improving your sleep. 

        10. Improve Your Diet

        Heavy or fatty meals can make you feel sluggish and tired, whilst some foods or eating strategies do just the opposite.

        Our always on lives have us reaching for sweets or other sugary snacks to give us a burst of energy to keep going. Unfortunately, that boost fades quickly which can leave you feeling depleted and wanting more.

        On the other hand, whole grains and healthy unsaturated fats supply the reserves you can draw on throughout the day.

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        To keep energy up and steady, it’s a good idea to limit refined sugar and starches.

        Eating small meals and healthy snacks every few hours throughout the day provides a steady supply of nutrients to body and brain. It’s also important not to skip breakfast.

        Eating a balanced diet helps keep your blood sugar in a normal range and prevents that sluggish feeling when your blood sugar drops.

        11. Manage Your Stress Levels

        Stress is one of the leading causes of exhaustion and fatigue, and can seriously affect your health.

        When you have increased levels of stress at work and at home, it’s easy to feel exhausted all the time. 

        Identifying the causes of stress and then tackling the problems should be a priority. 

        My article on How to Help Anxiety When Life is Stressing You Out shares 16 strategies you can use to overcome stress.

        12. Get Hydrated

        Sometimes we can be so busy that we forget to keep ourselves fully hydrated.

        Water makes up about 60 percent of your body weight and is essential in maintaining our body’s basic functions.

        If we don’t have enough water, it can adversely affect our mental and physical performance, which leads to tiredness and fatigue.

        The recommended daily amount is around two litres a day, so to stay well hydrated keep a water bottle with you as much as possible.

        The Bottom Line

        These 12 tips can help you reduce your tiredness and feeling of fatigue.  Some will work better than others as we are all different, whilst others can be incorporated together in your daily life.

        If you’ve tried to make positive changes to reduce fatigue and you still feel tired and exhausted, it may be time to consider making an appointment with your doctor to discuss your condition.

        Featured photo credit: Annie Spratt via unsplash.com

        Reference

        [1]Oxford English Dictionary: Definition of fatigue
        [2]NHS Choices: 10 Reasons for feeling tired
        [3]Verywellhealth: What is chronic fatigue syndrome
        [4]Everyday Health: Why does type 2 diabetes make you feel tired
        [5]Mayo Clinic: Sleep apnea
        [6]Harvard Health: The lowdown on thyroid slowdown

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