Travelers Die Happier!
“I had a good life. It was not always easy but mostly very self-determined. I have seen a lot of the world. Lived a great deal of my life in different places. I had several jobs and I quit them when I couldn`t bear the bosses anymore. That was very unusual at that time!”
(E. Aeberhardt, 2010/2011)
In this quotation I summarize the many beautiful conversations I had with Mrs Aeberhardt, a resident in a home for the elderly where I`d worked off my civilian service. I am sure she would be pleased to find her name in one of my travel articles; that`s why I did not change her name. Despite her numerous infirmities, Mrs Aeberhardt stood out with her exceptional humour, her self-contentment and strong character. For all these traits I have admired and loved her.
A quite new book written by Bronnie Ware, an inspiring and creative soul from Australia (according to her page), describes and highlights the common answers that dying people expressed when they were asked about what they regret most.
In this article I try to apply her findings to people whose lives include lots of self-chosen, stand-alone traveling and I explain why travelers have a good chance to die happier.
1. I wish I`d had the courage to live a life true to myself, not the life others expected of me!
Find what you want:
Traveling, especially long-term solo-traveling, comes with a physical and social distance to your usual surroundings and to your social environment which allows you to distinguish better between what others want for you and what you, yourself, want! This distance allows you to find out what your needs are, uncoupled from your usual environment.
From Must to Can:
Traveling gives you the opportunity to leave the social pressures of your social setting (at least temporarily). You leave the social imperative of your home base which goes like “you must, you must”. To walk a given, precast path is easy and additionally really passive. You have to follow only (which can be really hard if you don`t want that anymore). To find new paths or leave a ready-made path is inconvenient, but it is an active process and leads to more self-determination and to more “live your own life”! You must not, you can …
Experience different lifestyles:
While traveling you will (almost) automatically get to know people who live and choose to live differently than the majority in their home countries. It`s through these people you encounter new ways of living. Maybe one of these lifestyles are more appropriate to you than the ones offered at home.
Be more courageous:
Traveling boosts your courage in general. Whether you are just increasing your courage to dare something (new or yet unknown to you), or you are boosting your courage to be different and even be proud of it, your courage will enhance.
Travels are and should be projects that you can design yourself. You decide where you go, when to leave, with whom you want to be together (for longer) and with whom not. Traveling teaches you (how) to say No! “Sorry, but by tomorrow I will go on by myself” – I had to learn this too, it`s not easy. But in that way, you will learn to be your own master of your life!
2. I wish I hadn`t worked so hard
Why travelers do (a bit) better when it comes to this regret, is quite obvious, nonetheless I have to specify the “why” in greater detail:
“What for?”- Travelers know better wat they work for. I explained already that traveling helps to find your personal needs. Travelers live up less to the needs of others. And that is why you work less for things others expect you to have. You work for the things that make you personally happy. And once you know that traveling doesn`t have to be expensive, you can work less to fulfil your dreams. YOUR dreams.
3. I wish I`d had the courage to express my feelings
Traveling will certainly not make it easy to express your feelings automatically. That`s for sure. But your trips might produce certain situations and settings in which you learn something about expressing your feelings easier. For example: Once you have experienced some parts of Latin America, you may notice that emotions are also exhibited in public which is quite uncommon in Switzerland e.g. Girls and boys shouting at each other, crying. That maybe increase your courage to open up your heart to your loved one(s) a little bit more, at least in private! Personally, I`ve become more emotional over the years and I think also partly because of traveling*. Though, I still find it somehow hard to express my feelings.
4. I wish I had stayed in touch with my friends
The lessons regarding friendship I have learned from traveling are:
To have friends is no matter of course:
Friends are no matter of course. During my years in school I`ve always met people for free that either became friends or not. And I took these friends as self-evident. You do the same things together, you share the same experiences together and you talk together about football, girls and how the world works. But then I left school. My friends did too. Friendship became no matter of course. You have to take care of the friendships you want to keep up and let those friends go whose lives got completely different from yours. Everyone knows these changes, but travelers, I guess, know it all too well.
To make new friends you need to open up and be pro-active:
Even if you are not the open guy or girls by nature, travelers need to learn to open up. You don`t want to be alone all time while traveling. You have to be pro-active to meet new people and thus new friends. One tip: Beer helps!
Care about the friendships you value high:
If you travel the world, keeping in touch with good old friends and good new friends is not easy. But always manageable. For instance, when I was writing these words, I have been in Barcelona meeting a friend I know from my teenager years. Or, a travel friend from Canada knocked on my door and dropped in when I was having my birthday party in Zurich! Traveling helps caring more consciously for friendships you value high.
5. I wish I had let myself be happier
Simple: Traveling makes happy. Even if you find out that traveling is nothing for you on the long run. At least you have reflected your own needs and follow your way more consciously and pro-actively.
A final remark! I am 100% sure that you can avoid having the five main regrets described by Bronnie Ware without having traveled a lot. But I am also 100% sure that traveling helps immensely to say at the end of a life:
“No, I don`t have these regrets”!
by Traveling_Pat, alias Patric Ganz
Thanks for LIKING this Article! I hope you also enjoy my other articles on howsmallistheworld?
*I`ve once cried in India when I was listening to a particular Swiss German band. I couldn`t hold it back. PS: Usually I never cry.