A meaningful life is not a myth. It is not a cliché. It can be achieved, but it takes time and most of all understanding. Leading a meaningful life is about remembering the simple truths and taking simple steps to make things happen. Everyone of us can lead a meaningful life using the lifehacks supported by years of psychological research and truths present across every religious and philosophical system out there.
Life is a journey – not a destination. And a meaningful life is a journey worth taking. Most things we chase along the way in our life, like money and career, status and rivalry do not account for happiness as positive psychologists like Martin Seligman prove in their studies. As cliché as it may seem the best things in life are for free. Here are the things every traveler should try to make their life a lot more meaningful. Find seven ways traveling can help you lead meaninful life.
Make each day count
Being mindful is about being in the moment. The very practice of mindfulness comes from the buddhist zen practice.I think you'll agree with me when I say that in our everyday lives we either think of the past or plan the future. The best time to start practicing mindfullness is while on the road. When you are extracted from your natural environment where everything seems to remind you of your obligations, chores, plans, projects and past regrets, you are far more likely to start observing the miracles that happen right before your eyes. Start with the simple things like enjoying every sip of your morning coffee or just sit for a while on a town square and watch people go by.
There is a Chinese proverb that if you do for a living something you actually love, you never have to go to work. Let's face it, work is a big part of our life. It is worth looking for a meaningful job to lead a meaningful life. Very often it is fear that stops us from taking brave steps towards freeing ourselves from a toxic environment. We often project those fears and imagine the worst possible outcomes. However, as many stories of creative freelancers, travelers, expats and other modern day nomads show us taking that step towards freedom can pay off. When traveling try to think of the options you can choose from. Use couchsurfing or airbnb to look for accomodation, meet new people and learn their stories. What a great way to get inspired.
Be creative and have fun
Psychological research proves traveling boosts your creativity levels. Once we distance ourselves from the environment we're in, we can see things clearer and can come up with more creative solutions to problems, big and small. When we travel we are very often confronted with realities that are totally different to the ones we live in. That is a good thing. We can try different foods, we surely have to find ways to communicate with people who do not speak our language and sometimes we have to find solutions to unexpected turn of events. Being creative is about quickly adjusting. If you miss the train, enjoy the extra time given. If you get lost, try to make the most of it, instead of worrying you are not following the agenda. Life on the road is not about the exact corporate schedule. It is about the unknown and the joys of discovering it.
Being creative is also about finding creative ways to save and share your travel memories. One of the most popular forms of creative activities on the road is taking pictures. Saving those moments does not require much of technical skills these days. Digital makes it easy. All you need to brush up your digital photography skills is learn a few simple rules. To make it easier we've colaborated with 12 great world know photographers and travel bloggers to come up with a special free ebook you can actually download here.
Positive psychologist Jonathan Haidt from New York University Stern School of Business points out that helping others is one the things we get most gratification from. And what better opportunities can you find than traveling to help and let others help you. Regardless of your traveling mode – whether it be solo or in a group – you'll surely find yourself in the situations where you can either help or seek help. It turns out helping others boosts our endorphine levels – the happiness hormones. It also helps you find true meaning in life.
Take the road less traveled
We like to think of our lives as a set of preliminary planned events. Life has a funny way of proving us wrong, though. Unexpected events are thrown at us without mercy and for most of us that means stress. We've dedicated one post to all the possible ways of coping with stress and anxieties on the road. One thing is for sure – unexpected things happen. Sometimes it can be even fun to encourage the unexpected. Like taking the road less traveled to discover the unknown. Like trying exotic street food instead of keeping to the safe choices. Like trying the less common destination instead of the usual vacation.
If you want to find out more about the joys of the street foods check out our slideshare deck dedicated to best street foods out there you shoud try.
Find different perspectives
We all get stuck. To uncover creativity we need to take one step and find different perspectives. When on the road we are sometimes confronted with the cultural diferences we sometimes find to bizzare to digest. There are customs and habbits we might even find disturbing, cruel or just freaking bizzare. But trying to take a different look at things can help you find the true meaning of things. To get to know the most unexpected customs out there – make sure to check our slideshare decs dedicated to the bizarre and… even more bizarre.
Be a part of something greater than yourself
We are social beings. We obviously can choose to travel solo, to live solo but that does not mean we have to live in solitary. As social psychologists like Robert Cialdini (the author of highly acclaimed 'Influence: Science and Practice') points out that group dynamics help us find the purpose of our actions. We form groups, we reciprocate, we look for social proof to find the best solutions to our problems. As you travel try to find the connection not only with the closest circle you are traveling with. Try to be a part of the community you are visiting. Connect with them. To find ways to make friends on the road check out this post.
Leading a meaningful life costs you no money. It takes effort though. Best to start leading it is to hit the road and make each day count. Be a creative nomad and start right away… Oh well, you may want to read that post on how to make each day special beforehand.
Make sure to check our slideshare deck that gives you more on leading meaningful life in a nutshell