“Wherever you go, there you are!” This original quote came from Thomas à Kempis in a spiritual work he crafted in the 1400’s. This was likely meant to be amusing but when you think about it, it is truly a profound statement.
I’m a bona fide travel junkie. I love adventure, seeing new places, exploring as many nooks and crannies I can get to across the globe. Of course, getting out of my comfort zone and plunking my feet down on new ground helps expand my thinking and provides “meat” for interesting conversations with friends and family upon my return.
However, when I venture out, whether in Asia, Europe, India or South America, I don’t find a happier me. In other words, traveling afar won’t make ME like ME better! If I’m bored or unhappy with myself, that doesn’t go away because I traveled six thousand miles from home. If I’m disappointed with my decisions and actions, that won’t disappear when I’m walking down the Ramblas in Barcelona, on a bateau on the Seine or on a cruise to Mykonos. Happiness comes from within. Okay, we’ve all heard that before, right?
I’ve spent a lot of time in self-talk where I literally degrade yourself, find flaws with my behavior minute by freaking minute, and often anticipate the worst from my decisions and actions. That same destructive internal dialogue still plays on in my head no matter where I happen to be in the world. Maybe you feel the same.
So, how do we get out of that self-degradation loop? Well, I started to ask myself this question: How can I actually be playful in my thoughts? See the funny side of what I just did. Evoke a genuine laugh inside my head that may spill over into a smile.
Another approach I’ve used is to ask: How can I re-cast my thoughts when I find myself doing a negative critique of my choices, my actions, or even how I came across this morning? Instead, I reach for the silver lining. In other words, how does what I did in that screwed up scenario help me learn something new? Trigger me to do something different the next time? And then the concrete challenge is to find an opportunity to demonstrate the shift.
Hell, travel does give me the opportunity to experiment with the new me. As my brother, Ronnie used to say: “Have fun while you’re in another land because you’ll probably never see those people again. But you’ll be with yourself for the rest of your life.”
Linda S. Gunther is the author of six suspense novels: Ten Steps From The Hotel Inglaterra, Endangered Witness, Lost In The Wake, Finding Sandy Stonemeyer, Dream Beach and Death Is A Great Disguiser. Her essays and short stories have also been featured in a variety of literary publications.