Traveling has taught me how to live in the present moment

I will sort out my CV and start looking for a better job after my exams. I will start traveling when I finally get a boyfriend. Once I finally move out of this apartment, I will start going to the gym because my new awesome place will have one nearby for sure.  Next year will be so much better than this one.

Are you this person? Or maybe just a person with different sentences but same mindset? Mindset that tells you that future will be better and everything nice is hidden in distant weeks or years. You are? I know what’s it like. Hell, I was that person too.

Nowadays pretty much everyone I know has a crazy lifestyle. We are all being rushed. More than ever, today we are expected to do a crazy number of tasks and accomplish insane number of goals. All while looking pretty on Instagram, happy on Facebook and smart on Twitter. Even if you have a job you love, daily grind will often… Well, grind you.

Even with all these pressures coming from different directions and various people, we never seem to miss an opportunity to set the bar even higher for ourselves. Make more money, finish University, get a good job, buy a nice couch, impress everyone with your awesome tan from that great place you went to a week ago.

I remember myself sitting down in my cubicle every day six days a week, logging into the system I hated. I would be there trying not to explode, telling to myself As soon as you finish University, this will all be gone. I spent five years of my life feeling rushed and (as I am pretty sure you gathered so far) getting more and more unhappy. But most of all, I spent even more years of my life having my mind always ahead of time, always thinking how future will be better. Waiting for that future. The more unhappy I was getting, the less I tried to live meaningfully in the present moment. Everything nice that was going to happen was a month or a year away.

Dubrovnik and it's city walls are amazing! If you are a Game of Thrones fan, you will know it as King's Landing..
Walk with my girls within old city walls in Dubrovnik, one of my fav places in my home country Croatia. Little did I know that two months from there I will decide I had it enough and that I have some traveling to do.

Turns out there is an actual (scientific) term for it: destination addiction. Funny part: It’s not even travel related. Imagine that! First guy who mentioned it was Robert Holden and (even though I did not know it a time) he described my life saying: They (destination addicts, op.a.) are addicted to the idea that the future is where success is, happiness is, and heaven is. Each passing moment is merely a ticket to get to the future. They live in the “not now”.

To put it short and simple, this way of thinking is your safest bet for being unhappy.

I am obviously not writing all this to teach you how to be ultimately happy, because even if I was, that wouldn’t mean my remedies would work for you. But I did stop being a destination addict and I started enjoying the moments as they come. Please, do not get me wrong, I still have plans and think about the future but nobody will ever tell you this is wrong.

I remember this particular moment while stood on top of the Khalifa tower in Dubai. Sun was setting down, lights were turning on and it was so SO pretty. I looked down and realized I am stood at the (almost) top of the highest building in the world. I tried taking pictures but none of them did justice to that incredible view. Sigh. I looked around. Even worse! Everyone was taking selfies, turning their back away from the setting sun and smiling into their phones and cameras. Omg.

 

What I chose to do that moment there will probably be interpreted different by people’s different believes. Some will say I prayed, some will say I meditated. I will simply say I was just being present with my entire being in that moment. For my restless mind and impatient nature, that was pretty much unbelievable. As I leaned on the hand rail, I thanked the Higher Cause that brought me there. I reminded myself how privileged I am to see this amazing view. I remembered my parents who never traveled because they couldn’t afford to do so and  that made me count my blessings and be aware of them even more. I felt so lucky to be there that I shed a tear or two. Then I let go of all the thoughts and just let the view sink in.

Fast forward to just seven weeks ago. I was sipping on my everyday dose of mango shake by the pool in Phi Phi, Thailand. I had a perfect view of the immense azure in the distance and people of all nations and ages just strolling  down the main street close ahead of me.  Then I looked down on my laptop and an open map of SEA and my overtime-too-hardworking-never-resting brain started again: So should I go to Malaysia instead of Singapore? I mean, it is SO close. Should I just go to Chiang Mai like… Tomorrow? I mean everyone says a week here is more than enough. Or maybe just Ao Nang? I mean, it has been a WEEK (!) now that I am here. Yeah, Ao Nang. But nooo, everyone says Chiang Mai is a must.  How about I just go home because see, all these things are waiting to be done. They are, like… Of life importance!  Yep, I managed to upset myself terribly. Then I looked up, closed my laptop and decided: Nope. I am not doing this right now. I am HERE. NOW. I put my sunglasses back on and fully sank into the beauty around me.

 

See, the thing with traveling is that many times you will find yourself in situations that are not likely to repeat. I seriously doubt I will be taking a heli ride above Banff any time soon (that’s sh**’s  is eeexpensive). I am quite sure I will not be sipping on my Iced Frappe on Corniche in Doha (they suuure don’t like to give Croatians tourist visas) in next few months.  Even if I do, feeling you get when you lay your eyes on a new view for the first time can never compare to second or third.

That being said, I think it is pretty clear traveling is almost like a work book full of exercises for and individual who wants to live in the current moment. Because if you don’t appreciate it right there and then-you might not get the second chance. Yes, you can always be that person who is stood on top of a mountain or under a waterfall and thinks Oh, for my next trip I will deffo buy a Go Pro and THEN I will have awesome pictures. Or a classic like For my next vacation, I will bring nicer and sexier clothes so I won’t look like a hobo-can’t wait! Or (I am guilty of this one) I wonder where should I go after this trip.

 

I know that in the world of schedules and to do lists it is not easy to make your brain stop for a minute and take in all the nice stuff around you. In the beginning, I would have arguments with myself inside of my head (come on, don’t pretend you don’t do that!). I would literally have to order myself to stop and not do or think absolutely anything until feeling the present moment. I would have to make (yes, MAKE) myself not to think about next mountain, next lake, next viewpoint). But I did it.

Eventually, this new, lets call it ability, helped me to appreciate now as much as next week or next year. It made me want to do things asap and make my today worth to me. Because this (to)day will go away and I will never get it back. So I don’t spend winters praying for summer and I don’t curse on high summer temperatures waiting for a bit of cool air. I stopped thinking everything will be better THEN and started to realize that NOW is just as good and important.

Future is not real. Sure, it will happen. It will come. It is inevitable. But everything we think that will happen there is a product of our desires or imagination. Now, on the other hand is very, very real. Now is not a destination you need to get to, because you are already there.  You don’t need to wait for it or wish for it. You got it as we speak. Own it.

For the end, I will leave you with something that can be travel related, but it doesn’t have to be. A very well known quote by Ben Sweetland:

Happiness Is A Journey, Not A Destination.

Until next time,

Stay happy in the moment and smiles all around,

A.

 

 

 

 

 

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