The train of thought behind writing this blog is to identify some of the mind created obstacles or ‘psychological disorders’ per say that doesn’t let us live to the fullest, and deprive us of life changing experiences. There is a constant fear of things, a certain incompleteness within, resulting in pain and worry that fills our psyche most of the time. This maligned state of mind, is a direct result of our outdated beliefs and thinking patterns which have been prevalent since our ancestral time. To put simply, one thing our belief system confidently harps on and that is staying in the ‘comfort zone’. Pursuing a comfortable lifestyle which is associated with money and material wealth, and then which instills fear in us for not taking chances, doing something new or taking risks in life.
We also go a step further to declare such closed mediocre mindset, as the general ‘norm’ and which should be followed by everyone. We take a tough stand on it. We protect it and in the process feel jealous and make enemies with ones who try do something new. The way we have been thinking all these years, or conditioned to think is not taking us towards a happy life. It’s not enriching us, expanding us but on the other hand crippling us, contracting us. It’s making us fearful, as opposed to peaceful.
Well, not intending to make this blog a philosophy class :) I would rather share my experiences as a ‘traveler’ which helped me overcome my psychological limitations so to speak.
Below are some beliefs or if I have to use an apt word then ‘mental obstacles’ in our head, that hinder us from growing and expanding, and then how travelling can be used as a tool to overcome these obstacles, as it helped in my case.
Mind Obstacle 1 – The ‘repetitive and limited’ thought patterns
“The gladdest moment in human life, me thinks, is a departure into unknown lands” – Sir Richard Burton
This mind obstacle simply means, thinking same things again and again, on a daily basis and related repetitive action. Our thinking pattern is same and repetitive. This happens when we fall into a routine and don’t change our habits, we don’t expose ourselves to something new. We remain in the same work profile, talking with same office colleagues, same friend circle, same conversations, same ways of having fun (like partying in a pub or going for a movie), listening to same music, and maintaining a repetitive similar lifestyle for a prolonged period of time. A repetitive lifestyle leads to a limited mindset. We become just like ‘pond water’ which is trapped in one place. No flowing, no moving forward. We start living in a boundary and think this little boundary is our world. Eventually we feel disgusted because in reality we are not like this. Being pond water is not our true nature. We are like ‘flowing water’ just like the river flowing from the mountains and joining vast oceans.
Why a repetitive lifestyle is a ‘problem’?
It makes our minds dull and deprive us of our creative energies. We feel bored and lifeless since there is nothing new we are able to think or experience. Understand this, I am not calling our friend circle, watching a movie or our regular office work as dull or a ‘problem’. It is the repetition of things in a pattern, which is the problem. I am not saying to lose our friends and don’t talk with them. But I am proposing to meet new people and increase our circle. I am saying to engage in some new work. Practice some new interests of ours and bring a deviation in our lifestyle. Doing something different which we haven’t done in a while, eating something new, trying watching a new show in TV, is what I insist. But that push can only happen when we are convinced inside that staying in a ‘comfort zone’ is a trap and if we have to grow in life, we have to come out of this trap.
How travelling helped me get that shift?
I engaged in outdoors and adventure rides from time to time, which broke my routine lifestyle that had cropped in my head while working in a 9-5 day job. It broke my limited mindset and thinking patterns. As I traveled distant locations in India, l encountered something which I hadn’t seen in city life. Different set of people, different culture, fashion, food, complimented with abundance of nature. And experiencing all of this was a eye-opener. My boundaries had fallen, my comfort zone got challenged. A realization came that life is so much more than our limited chores in cities.
Travelling helped me encounter point of views coming from varied cultures of people. For example, I couldn’t keep one mindset any longer that eating only ‘vegetarian food’ should be right. I visited villages in Kerela coastal regions enlightening me with the lifestyle and eating habits there, and I was convinced that how local people could be dependent on fish for their survival. In those instances, I understood that being a non-vegetarian is not wrong per say. It’s a survival game for many, and hence completely justified.
As I travelled, I was also exposed to a different category of accommodation which travelers usually choose for a budget living and that was ‘Backpackers hostels’. I had always thought that accommodation meant having a hotel room all by yourself where you get your privacy to do whatever you want, and call room service at your discretion. Though not bashing this way of accommodation which I am still a fan of, I was hugely amazed equally when I saw bunch of backpackers hoarded in hostels for months, with 8-10 people in one room using bed bunks. They never got privacy, never indulged in alone time but were seen to be having an ecstatic time hanging out with new people. Such living is also prevalent in European cities.
*Look at the below pictures for 15-20 seconds. For next 15-20 seconds, forget who you are and what your lifestyle is. Imagine yourself in those places, as if you are living there……