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7 Reasons You Should Travel While You’re Young

7 Reasons You Should Travel While You’re Young

I have been very fortunate to travel extensively throughout the world while still young. I have visited most of the continental United States, plus many cities in Alaska and Hawaii. I also traveled abroad to Africa, Switzerland, Ireland, Great Britain, Scotland, France, Mexico, and Bonaire. I then lived for several years in Grenada, West Indies. I wouldn’t trade my experiences for the world, and I still have so many countries yet to visit. Based on my experience, I recommend every young person get out of their hometown and see what’s out there. Here are seven ways traveling changed me forever.

1. Traveling changes the way you relate to the world.

I grew up in a tiny rural town. If I hadn’t had the opportunity to travel when I was younger, I would have a difficult time envisioning much else outside my comfortable country bubble. When you travel to other countries and see the amazing beauty of sunsets over seas, eagles riding mountain currents, monkeys swinging through rain forests, grizzlies catching salmon in the rapids, majestic waterfalls spilling off vertical drops, and volcanoes smoking under their fiery breath, you realize the world is full of more beauty that you are capable of seeing in a lifetime. But, you still have the intense passion to try.

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If you don’t see this when you are younger, you have less desire to venture out when you are older and have job and family constraints in play. If I didn’t know what I was missing, I would have less of a desire to put the effort into taking the time to travel. You also develop a deeper sense of obligation to save our planet’s beauty for the coming generations. After all, you’ve seen it firsthand, and it’s worth saving!

2. Traveling changes the way you relate to others.

Unfortunately, the area I grew up in didn’t have much diversity. Everyone looked and acted basically the same. When I traveled, I learned about other cultures. I realized that my life could be enriched by developing friendships with people who didn’t look or act like me. Far from my hometown, I developed friendships with people who were nothing like me, but were exactly what I needed. This taught me to embrace, not fear, experiences and relationships that were outside my comfort zone. It also taught me the importance of communication skills. Let’s just say I paid a lot better attention during college Spanish class after visiting Mexico, and perked up in French class after my time in France and Africa.

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3. Traveling humbles you enough to realize it’s not all about you.

The older I become, the more I realize I actually know very little about life. It seems the confidence of knowing it all is usually graced upon the young. However, the sooner that bubble bursts, the better; at least in my case. Traveling sometimes puts you in tough situations. You see that the world is so much bigger than your perspective on it. You soon realize the world doesn’t revolve around you. You learn that you really weren’t the big fish in the ocean, but just a tiny minnow in a pothole.

Now, that doesn’t mean you aren’t still important, but it does change your perspective to be more open to learning from other people and situations vs lecturing and bestowing your vast wisdom to those lucky enough to be in earshot. Traveling teaches you to let go of the perceived concept of control. You learn that it’s a big enough challenge to just control yourself, and learn to give up trying to do so for the rest of the planet.

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4. Traveling empowers you to take on new challenges.

Just as traveling is humbling, it is also empowering. You realize you can do things you never thought possible. For example, I have lived for the past two years in Grenada, West Indies. I have always enjoyed driving on the right side of nicely paved and open roads of the U.S. Here, I was thrown into driving on the left side of the road on twisty mountain passes down broken roads that aren’t much bigger than a one-lane driveway, yet they expect two-way traffic to freely meet around the blind corners. Add to the lovely mix the fact that there are drop-offs with no guard rail along most of the drive, and far below the sheer free fall you see the rooftops of homes.

So, if I lose control, I not only kill myself, but I land on a house and kill a nice family having dinner. No pressure! Yet, after more than a few white-knuckled moments, I can now drive comfortably with the locals and don’t bat an eye at the drop offs, the livestock in the road, the pot holes, or the fact that there is no way I should have made it through that tight squeeze with that oncoming car without losing a mirror. Conquering this fear helped me learn that I could adapt to more than I felt I was capable of conquering. I think that’s a good thing to learn at any age, but you can apply it longer throughout your lifetime if you start early.

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5. Traveling gives you empathy for global suffering.

When you travel, you learn how much you truly have that you take for granted. Many people live in poverty that is unfathomable to those who have never walked their streets and heard their stories. Watching the wars and famines on the news takes on a whole new meaning when you have a personal connection with the people there. You lose the callousness and egotistic attitude that can sometimes develop when you can’t relate to that region of the world. And, it compels you to help others and give back.

6. Traveling pushes your educational horizons.

Sadly, I never liked history in school. Just reading the stories in books seemed so boring to me. However, when I visited the palace of Versailles in France, marveled at the architecture of basilicas in Africa, climbed the ruins of castles in Ireland, visited the White House, and walked the halls of the Louvre, I couldn’t help but get a new appreciation for history. Traveling makes history come alive. The stories are no longer pictures in a book, but tangible memories you remember much longer than anything you could study in school.

7. We are never guaranteed old age, so enjoy life’s experiences now!

I think a lot of young people put off traveling because they want to be responsible, work hard, get married, have kids, and build up a life. However, I think it’s a mistake to put off traveling in exchange for the belief that you can do it when you retire and have more time. While I certainly plan to continue to travel after I retire, I also realize I am not guaranteed old age. If something happens and I don’t live to see my forties, fifties, or sixties, I will have no regrets. I have experienced the world to the best of my ability by taking every opportunity presented to me to see all of this gorgeous planet that I can. Traveling has made me the person that I am, and I’m so grateful that I have plenty of years left with this version of me to continue the adventure.

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Sarah Hansen

A corporate-sales professional turned entrepreneur

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Last Updated on July 3, 2020

How to Control Your Thoughts and Be the Master of Your Mind

How to Control Your Thoughts and Be the Master of Your Mind

Your mind is the most powerful tool you have for the creation of good in your life, but if not used correctly, can also be the most destructive force in your life. To control your thoughts means to influence the way you live your life.

Your mind, more specifically, your thoughts, affects your perception and therefore, your interpretation of reality. (And here’s Why Your Perception Is Your Reality)

I have heard that the average person thinks around 70,000 thoughts a day. That’s a lot, especially if they are unproductive, self-abusive, and just a general waste of energy.

You can let your thoughts run amok, but why would you? It is your mind, your thoughts; isn’t it time to take your power back? Isn’t it time to take control?

Choose to be the person who is actively, consciously thinking your thoughts. Be someone who can control your thoughts—become the master of your mind.

When you change your thoughts, you will change your feelings as well, and you will also eliminate the triggers that set off those feelings. Both of these outcomes provide you with a greater level of peace in your mind.

I currently have a few thoughts that are not of my choosing or a response from my reprogramming. I am the master of my mind, so now my mind is quite peaceful. Yours can be too!

Who Is Thinking My Thoughts?

Before you can become the master of your mind, you must recognize that you are currently at the mercy of several unwanted “squatters” living in your mind, and they are in control of your thoughts.

If you want to be the boss of them, you must know who they are and what their motivation is, and then you can take charge and evict them.

Here are four of the “squatters” in your head that create unhealthy and unproductive thoughts.

1. The Inner Critic

This is your constant abuser who is often a conglomeration of:

  • Other people’s words—many times your parents
  • Thoughts you have created based on your own or other peoples’ expectations
  • Comparing yourself to other people, including those in the media
  • The things you told yourself as a result of painful experiences such as betrayal and rejection. Your interpretation creates your self-doubt and self-blame, which are most likely undeserved in cases of rejection and betrayal.

The Inner Critic is motivated by pain, low self-esteem, lack of self-acceptance, and lack of self-love.

Why else would this person abuse you? And since this person is youwhy else would you abuse yourself? Why would you let anyone treat you this badly?

2. The Worrier

This person lives in the future—in the world of “what ifs.”

The Worrier is motivated by fear, which is often irrational and has no basis. Occasionally, this person is motivated by fear that what happened in the past will happen again.

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3. The Reactor or Troublemaker

This is the one that triggers anger, frustration, and pain. These triggers stem from unhealed wounds of the past. Any experience that is even closely related to a past wound will set him off.

This person can be set off by words or feelings and can even be set off by sounds and smells.

The Reactor has no real motivation and has poor impulse control. He is run by past programming that no longer serves you—if it ever did.

4. The Sleep Depriver

This can be a combination of any number of different squatters including the inner planner, the rehasher, and the ruminator, along with the inner critic and the worrier.

The Sleep Depriver’s motivation can be:

  • As a reaction to silence, which he fights against
  • Taking care of the business you neglected during the day
  • Self-doubt, low self-esteem, insecurity, and generalized anxiety
  • As listed above for the inner critic and worrier

How can you control these squatters?

How to Master Your Mind

You are the thinker and the observer of your thoughts. You can control your thoughts, but you must pay attention to them so you can identify “who” is running the show—this will determine which technique you will want to use.

Begin each day with the intention of paying attention to your thoughts and catching yourself when you are thinking undesirable thoughts.

There are two ways to control your thoughts:

  • Technique A – Interrupt and replace them
  • Technique B – Eliminate them altogether

This second option is what is known as peace of mind.

The technique of interrupting and replacing is a means of reprogramming your subconscious mind. Eventually, the replacement thoughts will become the “go-to” thoughts in applicable situations.

Use Technique A with the Inner Critic and Worrier and Technique B with the Reactor and Sleep Depriver.

1. For the Inner Critic

When you catch yourself thinking something negative about yourself (calling yourself names, disrespecting yourself, or berating yourself), interrupt it.

You can yell (in your mind), “Stop! No!” or, “Enough! I’m in control now.” Then, whatever your negative thought was about yourself, replace it with an opposite or counter thought or an affirmation that begins with “I am.”

For example, if your thought is, “I’m such a loser,” you can replace it with, “I am a Divine Creation of the Universal Spirit. I am a perfect spiritual being learning to master the human experience. I am a being of energy, light, and matter. I am magnificent, brilliant, and beautiful. I love and approve of myself just as I am.”

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You can also have a dialogue with yourself to discredit the ‘voice’ that created the thought—if you know whose voice it is:

“Just because so-and-so said I was a loser doesn’t make it true. It was his or her opinion, not a statement of fact. Or maybe they were joking and I took it seriously because I’m insecure.”

If you recognize that you have recurring self-critical thoughts, you can write out or pre-plan your counter thoughts or affirmation so you can be ready.

This is the first squatter you should evict, forcefully, if necessary:

  • They rile up the Worrier.
  • The names you call yourself become triggers when called those names by others, so he also maintains the presence of the Reactor.
  • They are often present when you try to fall asleep so he perpetuates the Sleep Depriver.
  • They are a bully and is verbally and emotionally abusive.
  • They are the destroyer of self-esteem. They convince you that you’re not worthy. They’re a liar! In the interest of your self-worth, get them out!

Eliminate your worst critic and you will also diminish the presence of the other three squatters.

Replace them with your new best friends who support, encourage, and enhance your life. This is a presence you want in your mind.

2. For the Worrier

Prolonged anxiety is mentally, emotionally, and physically unhealthy. It can have long-term health implications.

Fear initiates the fight or flight response, creates worry in the mind, and creates anxiety in the body. This may make it more difficult for you to control your thoughts effectively.

You should be able to recognize a “worry thought” immediately by how you feel. The physiological signs that the fight or flight response of fear has kicked in are:

  • Increased heart rate, blood pressure, or surge of adrenaline
  • Shallow breathing or breathlessness
  • Muscles tense

Use the above-stated method to interrupt any thought of worry and then replace it. But this time, you will replace your thoughts of worry with thoughts of gratitude for the outcome you wish for.

If you believe in a higher power, this is the time to engage with it. Here is an example:

Instead of worrying about my loved ones traveling in bad weather, I say the following (I call it a prayer):

“Thank you great spirit for watching over _______. Thank you for watching over his/her car and keeping it safe, road-worthy, and free of maintenance issues without warning. Thank you for surrounding him/her with only safe, conscientious, and alert drivers. And thank you for keeping him/her safe, conscientious, and alert.”

Smile when you think about it or say it aloud, and phrase it in the present tense. Both of these will help you feel it and possibly even start to believe it.

If you can visualize what you are praying for, the visualization will enhance the feeling so you will increase the impact in your vibrational field.

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Now, take a calming breath, slowly in through your nose, and slowly out through the mouth. Take as many as you like! Do it until you feel that you’re close to being in control of your thoughts.

Replacing fearful thoughts with gratitude will decrease reactionary behavior, taking the steam out of the Reactor.

For example: If your child gets lost in the mall, the typical parental reaction that follows the fearful thoughts when finding them is to yell at them.

“I told you never to leave my sight.” This reaction just adds to the child’s fear level from being lost in the first place.

Plus, it also teaches them that mom and/or dad will get mad when he or she makes a mistake, which may make them lie to you or not tell you things in the future.

Change those fearful thoughts when they happen:

“Thank You (your choice of Higher Power) for watching over my child and keeping him safe. Thank you for helping me find him soon.”

Then, when you see your child after this thought process, your only reaction will be gratitude, and that seems like a better alternative for all people involved.

3. For the Troublemaker, Reactor or Over-Reactor

Permanently eliminating this squatter will take a bit more attention and reflection after the fact to identify and heal the causes of the triggers. But until then, you can prevent the Reactor from getting out of control by initiating conscious breathing as soon as you recognize his presence.

The Reactor’s thoughts or feelings activate the fight or flight response just like with the Worrier. The physiological signs of his presence will be the same. With a little attention, you should be able to tell the difference between anxiety, anger, frustration, or pain.

I’m sure you’ve heard the suggestion to count to ten when you get angry—well, you can make those ten seconds much more productive if you are breathing consciously during that time.

Conscious breathing is as simple as it sounds—just be conscious of your breathing. Pay attention to the air going in and coming out.

Breathe in through your nose:

  • Feel the air entering your nostrils.
  • Feel your lungs filling and expanding.
  • Focus on your belly rising.

Breathe out through your nose:

  • Feel your lungs emptying.
  • Focus on your belly falling.
  • Feel the air exiting your nostrils.

Do this for as long as you like. Leave the situation if you want. This gives the adrenaline time to normalize. Now, you can address the situation with a calmer, more rational perspective and avoid damaging behavior, and you’ll be more in control of your thoughts.

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One of the troubles this squatter causes is that it adds to the sleep depriver’s issues. By evicting or at least controlling the Reactor, you will decrease reactionary behavior, which will decrease the need for the rehashing and ruminating that may keep you from falling asleep.

Master your mind and stop the Reactor from bringing stress to you and your relationships!

4. For the Sleep Depriver

(They’re made up of the Inner Planner, the Rehasher, and the Ruminator, along with the Inner Critic and the Worrier.)

I was plagued with a very common problem: not being able to turn off my mind at bedtime. This inability prevented me from falling asleep and thus, getting a restful and restorative night’s sleep.

Here’s how I mastered my mind and evicted the Sleep Depriver and all his cronies.

  1. I started by focusing on my breathing—paying attention to the rise and fall of my belly—but that didn’t keep the thoughts out for long. (Actually, I now start with checking my at-rest mouth position to keep me from clenching.)
  2. Then I came up with a replacement strategy that eliminated uncontrolled thinking—imagining the word in while breathing in and thinking the word out when breathing out. I would (and do) elongate the word to match the length of my breath.

When I catch myself thinking, I shift back to in, out. With this technique, I am still thinking, sort of, but the wheels are no longer spinning out of control. I am in control of my mind and thoughts, and I choose quiet.

From the first time I tried this method, I started to yawn after only a few cycles and am usually asleep within ten minutes.

For really difficult nights, I add an increase of attention by holding my eyes in a looking-up position (closed, of course). Sometimes I try to look toward my third eye but that really hurts my eyes.

If you have trouble falling asleep because you can’t shut off your mind, I strongly recommend you try this technique. I still use it every night. You can start sleeping better tonight!

You can also use this technique any time you want to:

  • Fall back to sleep if you wake up too soon
  • Shut down your thinking
  • Calm your feelings
  • Simply focus on the present moment

The Bottom Line

Your mind is a tool, and like any other tool, it can be used for constructive purposes or destructive purposes.

You can allow your mind to be occupied by unwanted, undesirable, and destructive tenants, or you can choose desirable tenants like peace, gratitude, compassion, love, and joy.

Your mind can become your best friend, your biggest supporter, and someone you can count on to be there and encourage you. You can be in control of your thoughts. The choice is yours!

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Featured photo credit: Priscilla Du Preez via unsplash.com

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