I write because it’s a great method of closing the gaps in my thoughts. Writing helps solidify ideas while acting as a historical reference to my ever-evolving thoughts.
This post is coming from the 27-year-old me that spent the last 12+ months solo-traveling Asia. Being abroad, in a completely different culture, for an extended period of time, is an effective way to learn more about yourself. You can’t understand how valuable it is until you do it.
Whether waiting at an airport, sitting on a long bus ride, or taking a stroll around a new city, solo-travel provides many opportunities to think. Having a clear mind to question greater aspects of life is a luxury I don’t take for granted.
When having the ability to think at a larger scale, we can analyze our experiences to form valuable principles to live by. While on this journey, I had some reflections I wanted to share.
1. Reality is all based on how you choose to perceive your thoughts.
Your thoughts form you and your outlook on life. The thoughts we have, the food we eat, the information we consume, our environment. These are “nutrients” we take in that shape us into who we are today. This includes the set of beliefs you follow, the challenges you choose to overcome, or the situations you put yourself in. We are all living proofs of our past.
Different circumstances provide each of us with a unique outlook on life. Yes, we are all human, but those different “nutrients” we consume form our individuality. Everyone doesn’t live their life like you, nor does everyone value what you value. That’s why it’s important to take anyone’s opinions with a grain of salt. Think for yourself.
Which brings me to the point that life is a one-player game. It comes down to your relationship with your mind. Your thoughts are the most authentic part of your makeup. Appearances are easy to alter, but changing your thoughts is a bigger hurdle to tackle. That’s why overcoming an addiction is more impactful to one’s wellbeing than changing your hairstyle or wardrobe.
The mind is a powerful entity that is a constant work in progress. How do we know the mind is powerful? We know we need to eat healthy, exercise often, read daily, limit smartphone usage, and get enough sleep. Yet, we still make questionable decisions.
The mind also plays games with you by creating unnecessary problems to ponder on. It’s why we overthink the scenario that caused an argument or why we dwell on the person we have a crush on. I’m not saying live like robots, and by all means, do what brings you happiness, but it’s safe to say we help the mind bring upon challenges of its own.
Our mind even controls the feelings in our bodies! Take the placebo effect as an example. Placebos help doctors and scientists better understand the effects of new medications. Patients unknowingly consume a fake version of the drug with the result of making some feel better. That’s a crazy mind trick!
2. Everything has an expiration date.
While traveling Myanmar, I decided to go on two separate treks totaling ~60 miles. These physically taxing experiences put my mind at ease, allowing me to enter a meditative state. At one point I thought, “Wow! How lucky am I to experience this demanding physical activity? This is something my parents might have a hard time doing and something my grandparents definitely can’t do.” I realized this type of experience will come to an end. My trip backpacking abroad will come to an end, relationships and friendships will end, and unless there are technological breakthroughs, our lives will eventually end.
This brings me to an impactful quote by Confucius:
“We each have two lives. The second one begins when we realize we have only one.”
We need to capture opportunities based on the circumstances at hand. We are always evolving. I may be 27 years old, work in technology, have a certain number of friends and family, but at any time, those can change. It’s trite to say “live in the moment”, but sometimes it’s important we learn to “spoil” ourselves in those moments that may not present themselves again.
3. Freedom of choice is the ultimate goal.
One of the most important goals to achieve is freedom of choice. People treat financial freedom as the ultimate solution to their problems but it’s only one part of the equation. Are you really free if you are making lots of money yet told what to wear and when to show up to work every day?
My definition of freedom is a combination of having time for yourself while maximizing happiness. It’s the freedom of waking up without an alarm, wearing clothes you feel comfortable in and working on challenges meaningful to you.
Once you live free, it enables you to express your highest level of creativity. A clear mind leads to unlocking the best version of yourself resulting in positively impacting others. It’s essential you attack the obstacles limiting your expression of creativity.
Laugh at the idea of life.
Writing this post was a challenge because it’s based on a stream of thoughts rather than something factual or anecdotal. Recently surpassing my one-year mark abroad, it’s important I timestamp this as a reminder to keep living life to the fullest.
It reminds me of a powerful quote to signify how grateful we are to be living at this exact moment in time:
“A healthy person has many wishes, but the sick person has only one.”
There is almost always a positive to everything. Time to live life on your own terms. Physical activity is the repetition of movement, and mental activity is the repetition of thought. Remember to exercise your thoughts to focus on the positives!