International travel is hard. Okay, maybe that's a little off-topic...
Life is hard. People are hard. Situations are hard. Language barriers, culture, all of it, it’s hard. It’s fantastic, but it doesn't make daily life easy. It definitely doesn't make your day better when you're dealing with 30 or 40 or 50 or 100 people a day.
Do you ever go throughout your day, starting it off with vision and passion and a sense of pure-awesome, and then somewhere down the line of October 26th, around 3:17 PM, you feel like something is… off? Kind of like this creeping feeling that "today is a tough one..." My thought process is usually “why do I feel like crap right now? Today was supposed to be awesome! Where is my Netflix box”
Right now I’m on an international teaching tour (read more about our upcoming workshops in Delhi, Melbourne, and Sydney here). My co-teacher and one of my closest friends, Rob Woodcox and I, are traveling 7 different countries teaching people how they change their lives with photography and turn their dreams and goals in to a tangible reality.
And we’re meeting a TON of different people and cultures along the way.
And it's AWESOME! However... at home, in the United States, I have very little problem being who I feel I truly am (and how I think every human truly is, for that matter) - compassionate, energetic, meaningful, nice to people. My daily life is structured, exciting, fun. I spend time with people I love, I go to coffee shops that I enjoy and I ride my bike down streets that are paved well. I live in a beautiful city called Portland, in one of the greenest states in the country, and everything is generally pretty good. That’s not to say I’m perfect at home - there’s always the exception. But generally, it’s a lot easier for me to be who I want to be - a nice, loving person to everyone I meet - because it’s so familiar.
It’s not the same story when you’re traveling to a new country every 10 days and experiencing a range of people and cultures, constantly, with people pressing in on me, wanting things from me, when sometimes I'm just trying to figure out how to talk to the cabbie in the 6th new country in the 4th continent I've been to in the last 2 months.
And with all of this frustration, pouring in from people on the streets, people at the coffee shop, people in my e-mail inbox and Facebook messages, I’ve noticed two things in my daily life that have been slipping, and I think these two things are MUST HAVES to live a better daily life. Are you ready?
...Compassion + Gratitude.
Why these two? I’m not sure. But that’s what I’ve come to, and even in the two or so days that I’ve made myself aware of these two things, I’ve seen a significant improvement in how happy I am throughout my day. I’m an ideas-guy, and that means I’m also an idealist. I’m probably the furthest thing from a realist that you can be. It’s hard for me to even type that, because I want to be more of a realist, but my mind won’t rest. And I think it’s also human nature - to idealize our days, our lives, but when things don’t go our way, we internally freak out.
Now - it’s really good to visualize our days, months, years, lives. I do it all the time - I’m all about it, don’t get me wrong. But it’s in our daily lives where we need to practice compassion and gratitude. This helps us reflect a greater attitude toward our futures and out past.
Compassion. Remember, everyone is fighting a battle that you’re not aware of. I forget this when I travel, because my creature wants comfort, habit, routine, normalcy. And I can’t get that abroad. When we’re in uncomfortable situations that push us outside of our norm, remember that everyone you deal with in those situations is a human being, with a life, a goal, a dream, a battle they’re fighting, people they love. It’s hard for me to visualize what it would be like to be the motorcycle taxi driver constantly asking for our money through his services on a street in Vietnam. However, I can have compassion, even if I don’t understand him. I can pause. For a second, and show him love, even though I will never know his struggle. I can smile, I can be polite, and I can be unaffected. To show love without the need to understand someone is compassion. This has lifted me up so much in the last few days.
Gratitude. Life doesn’t always go my way, and I know that life doesn’t always go your way, either. I need to stop complaining. Some things aren’t going to work out the way we want. Other things are going to work out, but they’ll take time. During our time on this little blue planet, we’re going to be uncomfortable, a lot. But there’s an overwhelming amount of things to be grateful that completely blow the discomfort away. The sea breeze on your skin. A nice message from a good friend. Holding hands with someone you love. A good nights rest. Flowers. Nature. Puppies. Smiles. Good food. Candy. Fog, or sunshine, depending on who you are. Remember that it’s the little things. If you’re reading this, then you have something to be thankful for - even if it’s the computer or phone you’re reading this on. Figure out what those things are, and remind yourself of them when life doesn’t go your way. And when life does go your way, remember them, too.
I hope this helps you guys, because it’s helped me a lot, in just a few days. What do you do to make your daily life a little better? Let me know in the comments below!
I'm on a mission to show that the light will always pierce through the darkness.