(Or How You Can Use a Change of Scenery to Enhance Your Life)
As I write this, I am sitting in an executive lounge at a hotel in a city far from home. Over the last few years I have taken countless trips to a multitude of countries all over the world. Each destination presents its own unique personality made up of climate, culture, developed status, food, and people.
Climbing the steps of the Batu Caves in Kuala Lumpur. Bartering for spices and textiles in the souqs of Dubai. Ordering 60 soup dumplings for friends in Shanghai. Drinking with locals on the streets of Dusseldorf. Each experience is unique and nearly impossible to replicate in another locale.
Over the last year or so, I have begun to fully internalize the incredible value to be garnered from these excursions. Yes, there are beautiful vistas, both of women and landscape. Yes, you are challenging your mind to cope with a new collection of inputs. And yet, there is more you can take away from your trip than the experience of the trip itself.
Here are 5 unexpected benefits of traveling I have gleaned from my expeditions.
Conversation Dramatically Improves
Whether you’re hanging out with friends or hitting on a girl, having an extensive collection of interesting experiences under your belt comes in handy. Not only are you perceived to be especially interesting, but your capacity for stimulating expressive thoughts and emotions in others is tremendous.
Recalling your adventure on the Great Wall of China, or discussing the cultural differences between Dubai and Abu Dhabi, creates a deeper connection than recounting the latest football game or talking about your (boring) job.
You can thrill a woman with your tale of the time you climbed Machu Pichu. Or you can sound like every other forgettable guy opining on the latest Hollywood fart. Your choice.
Buying Stuff Feels Like a Waste
Traveling costs money. Sometimes a lot of money. For most of us, money is only available in limited quantities. Thus, we are faced with an exercise in valuation whenever we consider expending this limited resource. What I have discovered is, the more I travel, the more I evaluate and quantify a things worth relative to the opportunity of going somewhere or doing something.
It is a liberating revelation to understand experiences almost always carry inherent, long-lasting value. Rarely is the same true for an object. Most items we purchase quickly lose their value, or are consumed and gone in the blink of an eye. But the impact of an experience can last a lifetime.
Priceless is the cliche term often used when describing the value of an experience. Yet the term is often the best way to quantify the value of what you did. Only the flight or hotel or tour can be bought. The memories created are intangible and literally without price.
Judgement of Yourself Evolves
Having done some traveling as a child, I have long understood the inherent value in getting out into the world. But, the value I have been extracting lately is less about the event itself, and more about self-evaluation in a context other than at home. During longer trips, I find there are wonderful opportunities to reflect on my life and what I am doing with it.
What takes my ability for self-reflection to a new level is undergoing the exercise while in an especially foreign land. It’s amazing how, when your surroundings are unfamiliar, whatever litmus you previously had in place becomes invalid. Your measurement for joy and success tends to shift in ways you cannot prepare for.
I find this creates a unique opportunity to more objectively critique and encourage myself. At the same time, it’s easier to count my blessings. This practice alone can recharge me and pull me out of whatever funk I may be dealing with. It’s easy to get caught up in the monotony of daily grind and even feel a sense of lethargy. But when your life is put in stark contrast to the struggles others face in the world, your sense of gratitude tends to change rapidly.
Judgement of Others Changes
After being exposed to the world, you may find yourself determining the value of a person’s influence partially based on whether or not they are extensively traveled. Or you may find yourself dismissing people because of their perceived ignorance resulting from never leaving the city or state they grew up in.
Wisdom is extracted from experience. Understanding comes from empathy. Perspective is only possible in the absence of ignorance. One who has not experienced the world is unlikely to impart wise words. One who has never seen the atrocities of true poverty may never grasp how good they live.
If you want to excel at reading others, understand what drives them or determine if they are honest, then you need to be exposed to a wide variety of cultures, personalities, and environments. All great leaders are exceptionally skilled at reading people. And if you’re not leading, you may not be headed in the right direction.
Capacity for Risk-taking Increases
As men, we naturally have a higher threshold for exposure to risk. But, as we age and mature, a deeper sense of mortality begins to grow. This can be limiting if your self-confidence lacks in any way. And what better way to build confidence in yourself then to be exposed to the unfamiliar and come through unscathed?
Stepping through doors with little idea what will happen on the other side is both thrilling and liberating. Putting yourself in situations where the only thing you have control over is yourself helps you cultivate your natural desire for taking risks. Life is a collection of events, created by the decisions of people you have no control or influence over, intersecting with your own self-created path. Your ability to cope and adjust to the unforeseen improves as your capacity for acceptance of risk grows.
Before you know it, you’re turning risk-taking in to calculated endeavors of business-creation, market investment, and gaming women.
All this is not to say you can’t be a good man without traveling the world. Integrity, discipline, and self-control can be cultivated without ever leaving your home city. However, your understanding of the world at large, and the people in it, will remain retarded until you have created new guideposts.
Life should be lived to the fullest, and experiencing all the world has to offer is the cornerstone of what is to become your masculine empire.