By the time this posts I’ll be somewhere between Seoul and Guangzhou – due to this I’ve enlisted Logan Marshall to keep you entertained with some useful and tangible insights he gained from a 6 month trip around the world. I’ll be a little slow approving comments, but other than that, there should be some more great content next week.
With that, I’ll hand it off to Logan…
Roughly a year ago I embarked on a life changing trip around the world.
This incredible voyage brought me to the lush and diverse jungles of Costa Rica, the breathtaking landscapes of New Zealand, a rural Thai village, and all over the dirty, crowded, yet fascinating Indian subcontinent.
I spent time at an orphanage, taught English to hundreds of eager Thai children, worked and played on organic farms and lived side by side with spider monkeys and scarlet macaws.
Here’s a 1 minute video montage of my travels:
As I quickly approach the one-year anniversary of my return to the States, I’ve been thinking a lot about the adventures, experiences and knowledge that this incredible opportunity instilled in me. While the lessons learned from such an experience are innumerable, it’s taken me a while to fully process the totality of all I absorbed during my time abroad.
In addition, I’ve also been noticing how I feel today compared to one year ago… what changes have taken place? How have the lessons I learned translated into life shifts and choices? Do I feel stronger? Weaker? The same?
To my dismay, I’ve begun to feel the initial rush of adventure, personal challenge and accompanying confidence begin to wear off. After a year of conventional American life, the unwanted pull of routine, habit and conformity has begun to slowly eek it’s way back into the cracks and crevices my life. With the passing of time, the changes that were initially obvious have started to fade.
With this in mind, this post is as much about me trying to remember what I’ve forgotten as it is about offering you a different perspective on how you can better your life. Hopefully, through this exploration together, we can both revitalize ourselves with a new vision, perspective and passion for living that may have become buried in the busyness of day to day life.
Let’s get started.
Lesson #1: The World Isn’t as Scary as You Think
The Australian T.V reporter looked at the camera and said sternly, “The Australian government has changed their warning to: Do not travel to Bangkok for ANY reason.”
Sitting in my hotel room in Melbourne, my mind spun with possibilities, dangers and looming peril. My plane was scheduled to leave tomorrow, but with the recent outbreak of violence in the Thai capital, I was seriously reconsidering the intelligence of such a move. Emails from friends and family back home filled up my inbox, urging me to stay put. Television images of burning buildings and tanks rolling through the streets flashed through my head all night as I quarreled with this seemingly monumental decision.
My plane touched down at 1:00 am in a dark and quiet Bangkok. With a curfew still in order, the streets were eerily empty as my taxi hurtled towards what I imagined to be a makeshift war zone. However, as we navigated deeper into the city, I saw no sign of the tanks, Red-Shirt army, or burning buildings that had commanded the attention of worldwide media for weeks.
The streets were quiet, peaceful… I was safe.
People tend to dramatize and hype up the danger that exists around the world as if just across the border, chaos, lawlessness and rabid lions are waiting to swallow them up. In reality, the world is much less scary then we sometimes imagine it to be. For the most part, people are incredibly kind and places are generally safe. Everywhere I went, people greeted me with big smiles and open arms, not as an unwanted foreigner but as a long lost friend they couldn’t wait to show around.
This isn’t to say you should blindly venture into notoriously dangerous areas…but don’t let irrational fear of the unknown stop you from living your dreams.
Lesson #2: Confidence and Action are Directly Related
It is seven AM but the blazing heat of the day is already upon us. Standing alongside fellow teachers, backdropped by the Thai flag, I feel the obedient eyes of 400 students staring me down. I am sweating, partly from the heat, partly from fear. After coasting through most of my life in small town USA, I’m about to take on the greatest challenge of my life. As I look out at the tan smiling faces, each vibrant blue uniform popping out against the rutted concrete, I am fully present. The green of the rice fields behind them seems to grow in intensity as if my mental camera has gained megapixels, as though something in me is sub-consciously aware that this is a moment I will want to remember.
The assembly ends and the students file into their classes. My schedule reads P-5, or 5th grade, and I set off to find my class. I have no training. In fact, when I asked the principal the best way to go about teaching she just smiled and replied in a heavy Thai accent, “No problem. Iss easy!”
And so I approach the class. I can hear the sounds of children playing, many of whom don’t speak a word of the language I’m here to teach them. My palms are sweating, my heart pounding in my chest, but inside there is a sense clarity and conviction. So I stand up straight, smile, take a deep breath, and enter.
Before the trip, I had the misconception that confidence comes from training the mind, from sitting in stillness until all your fears, worries and reservations simply fall away. While I still recognize some truth to this belief, I now see a much stronger connection between confidence and purposeful ACTION and wholeheartedly believe that challenging yourself is a much more powerful way to initiate an upsurge of self confidence.
As the title of Susan Jeffer’s book reads, “Feel the Fear and Do It Anyway.” Whether this means teaching your first solo English class, making a speech or simply standing up to someone, taking action in spite of any fear is the best way to feel more capable and confident in your daily life.
Lesson #3: With Flexibility, Anything is Possible
Simply put, Rishikesh India is not a runner’s hotspot. Okay, it’s virtually impossible (and downright stupid) to attempt a run through the tangle of rickshaws, stalls, overly cocky monkeys and wandering holy men that crowd every inch of this sacred city. Still, despite my unfavorable surroundings, I had to move and was determined to find a way to do it.
After much searching, my “gym” took the form of an ashram rooftop overlooking the Ganges river. It was only maybe 100 feet long, utterly devoid of props or weights and baking hot like an Indian oven. Even though I was confined to this small, barren, scalding hot area on the top of a building, I was still able to increase both my endurance and strength during my stay.
Don’t be fooled by the myth that you need a corporate gym or an air conditioned office to keep moving towards your goals. All you need is your body, a new mindset, and the desire to crush it.
Got these three things? Awesome. Rock on.
Lesson #4: We are Ridiculously Incredibly Lucky and Fortunate
The Good Shepard Agricultural Mission is an orphanage located right on the border between India and Nepal. Run by an Australian guy in his early twenties, the “Farm” is home to over 100 children ranging from newborn babies to full grown adults.
At first glance it appears that these kids have nothing. No parents, no home, no personal belongings of any kind… just a sad, unlucky roll of the dice. Initially, this false perception invoked in me deep pity and sympathy for them. However, as I grew to know each amazing child during my three week stay, this feeling of “you’re so unlucky, I’m so sorry” slowly began to dissipate like a monsoon rain in the hot Indian sun.
Despite the countless factors working against them, despite being parentless in the middle of a wild, competitive and harsh land, these children were and are some of the happiest kids I’ve ever had the pleasure of knowing. Chores were filled with song, dance, and a light playful spirit. Every time I walked into a room, each brown face would instantly light up with huge, sincere smiles.
I honestly believe that these children are truly and genuinely happy.
Living our busy, isolated western lives it’s easy to get caught up in worry, stress and even curse our current situation for being unfair or undeserved. While I’m certainly not discarding the magnitude of problems in your life, let me tell you this: You are blessed beyond belief. Many people take for granted the fact that they live in a country where they have rights, freedom and opportunities. Or the simple comfort of having a hot shower and a warm bed to go home to each night.
Be grateful for all the friends, support and opportunities in your life. I can tell you from first hand experience, halfway across the globe, 100 Indian orphans are doing just this.
Lesson #5: There are Countless Ways to Live a Life
In Costa Rica I met two of the coolest people on the face of the earth. To say their lives have been one massive, extraordinary adventure wouldn’t even come close to doing them justice. Rugged, worn, yet always smiling, they had a unique and breathtaking story for everything.
Originally from just outside Chicago, they had spent years wrangling crocodiles and pythons, working with hollywood movie stars, and living in the heart of the African Congo…just to name a few. One of them told me that one time he was bitten by a crocodile yet still managed to pin it to the ground and sedate it despite the blood pouring from his leg…just an average day at the office.
While they certainly epitomized adventure, unconventional living (and reckless lunacy), they certainly weren’t the only people I met who are leading exciting, original and altogether awesome lives. From a Scotish guy working as a trekking guide in the himalayas to a 25 year old Australian running an orphanage in the heart of India, all around the world people are doing amazing, worthwhile things… and if they can do it, so can we.
Lesson #6: We are Shaped by the World Around Us
I can honestly say that I changed more during my six months abroad than the previous 10 years of living at home. Upon my return, my goals, desires and belief systems had shifted so drastically that sometimes I even surprised myself.
More than anything, this trip reinforced my belief that we are a product of our surroundings. If we consciously (or unconsciously) surround ourselves with pessimistic people and a dull, unexciting environment our bodies and minds will crumble and fester in a pool of soul crushing magma. Conversely, if we spend time with exciting, enthusiastic people and challenge ourselves in new, varied and uplifting situations, our bodies and minds will naturally follow suit.
While our unique personal orientation does play a small part in our personality and behavioral traits, I now believe that we are undeniably molded by the people, places and situations we choose to surround ourselves with.
Maybe there are aspects of your life that bring you down? Maybe there are people or situations you’d be far better off without? While I’m not saying you should necessarily cut ties with close friends or become a monk, do notice how your current situation is shaping your beliefs, perceptions and physical body.
The one year anniversary of my return home is less then a month away. As time continues to flow, I often wonder where the river I am on is taking me. Is it aligned with my highest vision for myself? Am I pointed in a direction of greater health and happiness or one of depression and boredom? Do I wake up each day with a smile on my face, energized and ready to do what I love? DO YOU?
Above all, this trip taught me one thing: We can shape our destinies.Regardless of how grim your life may appear right now, you can achieve the life you dream of living. It may take some hard work and it will definitely require you to challenge yourself, but in as little as six months… everything can change.
So don’t wait to get started.
Start a business, book a plane ticket, take massive action and tweak your approach along the way. Hundreds of tiny improvements can add up to a life you’ll love to live.
My Special Gift to Location 180 Readers
I’ve put together a resource kit just for Location 180 readers that I think you’ll love! Check out this page, enter your email and I’ll immediately send you some awesome free material that I’ve prepared specially for you. Here’s what you’ll get:
- A 7 minute training video outlining the exact strategy I’m using to gain hundreds of subscribers to my new project with very little effort.
- A video of a girl from the orphanage I visited signing “Baby” by Justin Beiber (this is the cutest thing you’ll ever see)
Thanks so much for reading this post and don’t forget to pick up your gift package.