We spend so much time and energy building a life that we forget what it means to live. On my latest 25 day adventure to Germany, Russia and Israel I found I'm not the only one who feels this way. Our millennial rituals have left us empty inside with an insatiable appetite for authentic connectivity.
We live in an age of superficial distraction, mindlessly pursuing materialistic goals yet discounting the true needs of our existence. Our rush hour commutes, gossiping conventions, social climbing addictions, sidewalk fashion shows, and competitive popularity contests have put us on autopilot. In this autopilot mode we’ve lost the ability to truly accept people for who they are and we’ve lost the intrinsic gift of accepting ourselves.
In our Hi-Tech society, where acceptance and rejection can be made through the swipe of ones’ finger, judgments are inevitable and often made subconsciously. What one wears, where one lives, and what one drives are all considered testaments to how much one is worth; all superficial symbols, often making us feel inadequate.
Need proof? Self-improvement represents a $10 billion per year industry in America alone. Forbes in June 2014 reported that 52.3% of Americans are unhappy at work. Huffington Post reported only one in three Americans say they’re "very happy". Proving despite our cars, homes and goal-oriented lifestyles, we feel unfulfilled. There are also numerous studies that correlate the highest levels of depression with the most developed countries on earth.
I believe that when it comes to attaining happiness, millennials have a blind spot. You’ve been chasing artificial happiness for so long you've forgotten what actual happiness is.
Traveling is a complete paradigm shift. As we expand our horizons, we become uninhibited; discovering things about ourselves we never thought were possible or true. Traveling promotes self-acceptance, gratitude and uninhibited connectivity, which in turn expands our consciousness making us happier, but more than that, it just makes us feel more alive.
Imagine expressing your feelings and thoughts without restraint. Establishing connectivity and acceptance with strangers, new cultures and yourself.
Traveling, touring and discovery in principal highlights the symbiotic relationship we have with the universe and with others. This is primarily due to the transitional state caused by travel. Traveling, adventure traveling in particular throws us in a state of transition, which temporarily suspends the autopilot. We're vulnerable, were back to basics, back to Maslow's Hierarchy of Needs, back to the primal state where the authentic self awakens.
Where are you from, what do you do, and why are you here, are the three most important questions anyone can ask. Coincidentally, these are the three most common questions you will hear when traveling. These questions propel us to rethink our goals, ourselves and reanalyze our perspectives outside of our safety-net environment.
So, here's why millennials must travel the world.
A journey has the power to reawaken you, creating a realignment within. It’s like a dialogue in darkness that elevates your state of consciousness. People see you and not just your superficial status. They don’t just see you, they open your eyes, so you can see you. At least that's been my experience, and I've traveled to half a dozen countries in less than 3 years. It’s like we have to travel across the globe for someone else to connect our dots for us, as if we can’t see the bigger picture because we’re too focused on one part of the painting.
It’s like you haven’t seen yourself for awhile, and then someone holds up a mirror and shows you exactly who you are. The experience can be raw and unnerving but so beautiful. Traveling won't be all sunshine and rainbows. It’s tough, grueling, exhausting and almost always has an unexpected turn, but that's the process. The most important and powerful act you can do is to reawaken your acceptance of yourself and of others – to see people as an extension of yourself.
When you see strangers are willing to blindly accept you regardless of color, creed or societal class, you begin to accept yourself. You also begin to bloom within and you develop the urge to emulate this blind acceptance. That's what keeps us happy I believe – acceptance and appreciation. Those who traveled the world or travel a lot know what I mean. You may not see it right away but people back home will pick up on it right away. It's as if your presence and attitude automatically liberates them. And that’s what the world needs more than ever today; compassionate, authentic, confident individuals who see other people as an extension of themselves.
In short, if you want to awaken yourself from the millennial autopilot, you must find the courage to let go of the familiar and jump into the unknown. You’ll get much more in return than you can ever possibly imagine.