Since Shelly and I decided to stop traveling for at least a few months, I’ve been doing some reflecting on the lessons I’ve learned from the time spent traveling the country.
There are a lot of practical lessons, like “always dump the black water tank first” or “don’t try to smuggle fruit into California.” We’ve had an opportunity to really get to know our kids. We’ve explored trail systems all over our country. We’ve met more amazing people than I could list. We’ve learned that we can spend pretty much every moment of our lives in close proximity and still yearn for the other when we’re apart.
I’ve also learned some important life lessons. Actually, many of these lessons were learned prior to hitting the road, but were reinforced time and time again on our adventures. Here are nine such lessons:
1. Help others. If everyone spent time actively seeking out ways to help each other, the world would be a lot better place. Each of us has the power to change that if only we recognized just how much we have to offer to those around us. Whether it’s something big or small, strive to help others. Make a difference.
2. Figure out what you enjoy. Do it more often. Understand what brings you joy. In almost every case, humans crave excitement, not happiness. Once you understand that concept, filling your life with joy becomes a lot easier. Set up your lifestyle to experience excitement more often.
3. Figure out what you don’t like. Do it less. What don’t we like? Most assume this involves avoiding pain whether it be physical, emotional, spiritual… whatever. While it’s not always pleasant, it’s not pain that brings unhappiness. Boredom brings us unhappiness. Understand what you find boring, then set up your lifestyle to experience less boredom.
4. Seek challenges. Humans thrive on challenges. They may come in the form of the physical, mental, or emotional. They may involve work, lifestyle, exercise… whatever. Figure out what makes you uncomfortable, then try it.
5. Learn from everyone. True wisdom is the realization that we’re a lot stupider than we like to think. Every single person we encounter has lessons to teach us if only we accept our role as a student. You have two ears and one mouth; use them in that proportion.
6. Surround yourself with genuine friends. Find friends that you can trust, will help you when you’re down, have the power to challenge your way of thinking, and can ignite your inner fire. The ability to make you laugh is important, too.
7. Embrace scarcity. We surround ourselves with stuff under the guise of security. We falsely believe our problems will disappear if we reach some imaginary line. Instead of pissing away your days attempting to eliminate scarcity in your life, embrace scarcity. Use your creative energies to develop unorthodox solutions to the scarcity. It makes life a lot more interesting.
8. Realize we can’t predict the future; act accordingly. Too many people spend too much time plotting the course for tomorrow without really embracing today. Don’t miss the opportunity to make today special. In almost every case, you can make today special by helping someone and doing something exciting. Remember, you may die tomorrow.
9. Embrace change. Some will tell you not to fear change. That’s bullshit; change is scary as Hell. Instead, embrace that fear. The exhilaration of change is what makes it so exciting, and we crave excitement.
The time we’ve spent on this adventure has been amazing on many levels. Many of my fundamental beliefs about the hows and whys of life have been reinforced and refined, and these nine lessons sum up some of the more important points.
What are your thoughts?