Perception Changes Everything - My Lessons from Travel

 
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I used to travel business class all the time. Several overseas trips a year, sometimes more than one in a single month.  I was pretty blasé about it all and because I needed to be at work early on the morning of my arrival, my focus was on maximising sleep time.  No enjoying the indulgences of this class of travel. No thanks, I’ll just have a bottle of water, and please don’t wake me for breakfast.
 

Fast forward several years and oh my, have times changed.

The overseas travel that used to be a very normal part of my life, is now an infrequent event. Whilst I don’t for a minute long for that career or lifestyle, I certainly miss the change of perspective that comes with being in another country. I miss the opportunity to opt out of my life, even for short while, and soak up a different place, with different people and different experiences.
 
This year I’ve needed that. I’ve needed to take a break and breathe in the freshness of a new perspective. So I used the very last of my air miles to travel to London to visit friends and family over the summer months.  And because I had enough miles and I felt like pure pleasure, I ramped it up a notch and traveled business class.
 
Traveling for holiday instead of work changed everything. I was relaxed and excited. I wanted to be there. And 5 years since the last time I traveled in style, my perspective had changed completely.
 

I was grateful.
 

Instead of feeling grumpy and impatient (even in the priority queue!), I appreciated the incredible convenience I’d been afforded. I relished the extra space and comfortable duvet. I enjoyed the wine and watched a movie. Aaaah. Yes!
 

Having a different perspective changed everything.
 

Travel allows this.  It provides the time and space to see things from a different point of view; to try a new way of being, feeling, behaving.
 
I got back on Saturday and have already found myself getting impatient with the people bellowing in the stairwell and the dawdlers in Woolies. Can my worldview have already changed so quickly?
 
Instead of letting it all unravel, I’ve decided to reflect on the way I viewed the world while away...

 
Here’s what stands out:

  • I opened my eyes to beauty – I noticed that I wasn’t rushing around blindly. I was aware of beauty in small things. I allowed the space to notice and take pleasure in a bright flower against a grey wall, a cat sunning itself on a brick wall, a bridge reflecting on the water.

 

  • I took my time – it’s easy to get caught up in the energy of wherever we happen to be, to follow the feeling of the people we’re surrounded by. So I tried hard not to. If a train was about to leave, I didn’t race down the stairs to catch it, I just took the next one. I ambled the river route home instead of jostling through the crowds on the main road.

 

  • I didn’t try to do everything – instead of packing it all in every single day, I alternated busy days with chilled days. And even on the busy days, I made a choice about which things I would do and which I wouldn’t. No need to cram in a million museums and shows and social catch-ups. I reminded myself that this was a holiday and was intended to be restful.

 

  • I took comfort in the ordinary things – I signed up to a local yoga studio and went for runs in the park. I did things that I would do at home to make me feel grounded, yet at the same time, enjoyed the inspiration that comes from a change of scenery.

 

  • I reconnected with people I love – I spent time with the kind of people that remind me of who I am. No awkward catch-ups, just an easy continuation of the conversation from years ago. Lots of wisdom, nurturing energy and plenty of hysterical laughter. If I can manage regular Skype calls for work, why on earth do I not chat to my people every week?

 

  • I unplugged – I turned off my data and left my phone on airplane mode all day. No checking email, browsing Instagram or posting on Facebook. Just a quick morning and evening check-in. I was surprised at how easy it was. I felt the liberating outbreath that comes from disconnecting.

 

Travel certainly opens our eyes and changes the way we see the world. I think the real beauty is bringing a piece of that home - not to let the holiday stay in its little bubble of loveliness, but to remember what about it felt so good, and then integrate that back into ordinary life. I’m certainly going to try.