Traveling alone may be the single best catalyst for personal growth.

My solo traveling experiences have created quantum leaps in various areas of my life. And every person I’ve met who has traveled alone has been among the most interesting and awesome people I’ve encountered.

Read more about my solo travel adventures and the resulting insights here:
Why I Left My Job

The Joy of Minimalism: Traveling the World with Only Carry-On Luggage

11 Unique Ways to Optimize Your Travel Experience Wherever You Go

It may sound paradoxical, but the more you explore the world outside, the more you explore the world within. Solo travel gives you free rein for the exploration of both the external and internal world.

Sure, it can be lonely at times, but you meet a lot of people and get to know yourself when there aren’t familiar faces always around. And yes, it’s hard leaving your friends and family behind for any period of time. But it’s completely worth it and you will come back a better person.

9 Reasons Why You Should Travel Alone At Least Once in Your Life

1. Self-sufficiency – You learn to be independent, do things on your own, problem solve for yourself, navigate on your own and become your own best friend. Self-sufficiency is an invaluable byproduct of solo travel.

2. You meet more people – When traveling alone, you’re forced to talk to more people (unless you just want to be by yourself 24/7, which would drive anyone insane). I’ve gone out alone plenty of times and I always end up meeting more people than if I went out with a group of friends. Why? If you go to a bar alone, for example, you’re not just going to stand in the corner by yourself. It forces you to leave your comfort zone and talk to anyone near you (which leads to the next reason).

3. You become a better conversationalist – Because you meet so many people when traveling alone, you naturally enhance your conversation skills. There is no one else who you can depend on to carry a conversation; it’s all on you. So naturally, you get better at starting conversations and less hesitant about approaching people.

4. You get comfortable being uncomfortable – During solo travel, you’re almost never in your comfort zone. You get used to the excitement, the adventure and the bold decisions. Though you’ll undoubtedly face inner resistance, push through it. This is where the magic happens. Life begins at the end of your comfort zone. Growth only happens when you push your boundaries. This is a big reason why traveling alone spurs so much personal growth.

5. Flexibility, freedom and spontaneity – You are in complete control of everything you do during solo travel. If you want to do something, there’s no one else to consult with and no consensus to be made. You just do it. Traveling alone gives you ultimate flexibility, a high degree of freedom and the opportunity to be as spontaneous as you wish.

6. You’re able to put yourself first – This is most applicable to highly empathetic individuals, but still applies to everyone. When you travel alone, you have the rare opportunity to do whatever you want, whenever you want and spontaneously follow your own intuitive desires on a whim. It also allows you to work on any personal projects or develop specific skills you desire while traveling. To use myself as an example, I get much more writing and blog work done when traveling alone compared to when I’m with other people.

Traveling solo creates a situation in which you can put yourself first, without worrying about hurting other people’s feelings and having to come to a mutually beneficial consensus about everything. If you’re at all empathetic, you always make sure that people around you are happy. This is good of course, but sometimes you have to put yourself first in order to really know yourself (which is the next point) and evolve. And don’t view it as selfish; when you do the inner work, you actually expand your capacity to give to others.

7. You get to know yourself – When you have to do things on your own and spend time alone, getting to know yourself better is an inevitable side effect. You become more self-aware (in a good way). You become more in tune with your emotions, tendencies, habits, patterns and the deepest aspects of yourself. “Know thyself” was inscribed on The Temple of Apollo at Delphi for a reason. It’s that important.

8. The lone wolf aura – There’s something beautifully enigmatic about someone who’s confident when they’re alone in a new place. I call this “the lone wolf aura.” People are curious and intrigued by someone who is genuinely self-assured. Solo travel cultivates your own unique lone wolf aura.

Read my poem “The Lone Wolf Aura” for a deeper look at this.

9. It’s a pilgrimage – You’re the hero, the star of your own movie. A key component of any hero’s journey is some form of pilgrimage. And it’s always been a crucial step on the path of life for humans.

Jesus apparently went to Asia for many years to hone his spiritual practices. Buddha supposedly ventured into the woods alone and meditated under a tree for a while. Ash Ketchum traversed Canto and Joto to catch ‘em all (I had to drop a Pokemon reference). The hero archetype is brought to fruition by some form of a pilgrimage.

What’s unfortunate about our society today is that there is no real guidance regarding this stuff anymore. There are no rites of passage in the modern world.

But that missing ingredient is why pilgrimages have been making a resurgence in the form of things like backpacking and world travel. People are exploring the world more now than ever before. So this phenomenon is becoming something like a nondenominational pilgrimage. Not subject to any rigid rules of what you should or shouldn’t do. It’s a personal journey. And the details of it are up to you.

2456363834<em>25e9a85b59</em>o

I hope this post inspired you to embark on an adventure of your own. It may take time and effort to line everything up, but it’s totally worth it.

I’m not condemning traveling with others either (I’m doing it right now for this part of my trip). However, I believe that everyone can benefit immensely from solo travel, even if it’s only once in your life. If you feel that inner calling, take heed and make it happen.

It’s all about the journey.

Live each moment to the fullest.

– Stevie P!

ABOUT THE AUTHOR

me
Stephen Parato (aka Stevie P) is your friendly, neighborhood Earth traveler. A holistic health & wellness advisor, Reiki master, unorthodox yogi, life coach, explorer of consciousness, philosopher, writer, poet and positivity connoisseur. Stevie P’s internet home base is his blog Feelin’ Good, Feelin’ Great.

Website link: http://www.feelingoodfeelingreat.com

Facebook: https://www.facebook.com/FeelinGoodFeelinGreat

Twitter: https://twitter.com/SteviePThatsMe

YouTube: Feelin’ Good, Feelin’ Great

Read More

RELATED POSTS

It's Official: Researchers Say We Should Only Be Working 4 Days a Week

Those of us who have had, or currently have, a 9 to 5 job know incredibly well that the 3 o’clock crash is a very real thing. So many people work hard all morning only to find themselves bored, burnt out and killing time for the last two or three hours of the day until they’re off. Yet, people continue to crank out 60-70 hour work weeks.

K. Anders Ericsson, a prominent scientist in the field of work psychology, has done the experiments and says that most people are only capable of doing about 4 to 5 hours of work that is actually productive. Once they reach their productive “limit,” they become less productive and less focused.

"If you’re pushing people well beyond the time they can really concentrate maximally, you’re very likely to get them to acquire some bad habits. What’s worse, those bad habits could end up spilling into the time people are normally productive," Ericsson says.

CEO of Treehouse, Ryan Carson, decided to test this theory about ten years ago in 2006. He put in place a 32-hour work week and hasn’t gone back since. His employees are not only happier, but much more productive. This resonates with Ericsson’s findings that shorter work weeks helped boost productive output, worker retention, and overall personal and professional happiness.

The idea has also been tested in a school environment, as 4th and 5th grade students in Colorado were part of an experiment that saw their school week drop from five days to four. The results? Reading and math scores for the 4-day school week students went up by 6 percent and 12 percent when compared to students in the traditional 5-day school week.

"I think the idea that children will be fully concentrating during all their classes is unreasonable," Ericsson explains.

Much of the evidence suggests that simply finding new ways to redistribute the workload over the week can have major benefits for both schools and professional work environments. Many places have already begun doing so by offering their employees four 10-hour days instead of five 8-hour days. This not only gives people an extra day off, but also allows them a greater chance of avoiding rush hour traffic.

What do you think? Would you prefer a 4-day work week?

h/t BrightSide

Read More

Photos: Stray Miniature Schnauzer is Taken in by Monastery, Becomes a Monk

It’s not everyday you see a miniature schnauzer dressed up like a monk. The adorable pup you see here is Friar Bigotón (Friar Moustache), and he’s the newest member of St. Francis Monastery located in Cochabamba, Bolivia.

Friar Moustache was once a stray dog wandering the streets until he was taken in by the kind monks at the monastery.

“His life is all about playing and running,” says fellow friar Jorge Fernandez. “Here, all of the brothers love him very much. He is a creature of God.”

Friar Moustache was even given a special ‘habit’ to wear around the monastery, denoting his status as a friar like the other monks. He can be seen regularly attending to his chores around the monastery, which includes giving sermons to the fish.

“If only all the churches of our country [would] adopt a dog and care for him like Friar Bigotón,” writes local animal rescue, Proyecto Narices Frías (Cold Nose Project). “We are sure that the parishioners would follow his example.”

How cute is this little monk dog?

Please share with friends and family who would love to see Friar Moustache’s new home at the monastery!

h/t BoredPanda

Read More

5 Photos Showing Strange Things Happen When Bookstore Employees Are Bored

People tend to get creative when they’re bored and need to entertain themselves. Like the good folks at the Librairie Mollat in France, who actually started an Instagram page dedicated to their new favorite pastime: finding books that match up perfectly with their patrons’ faces and bodies.

We can see just how good they’ve gotten at pairing the right faces with the right books--the result being something that is different, yet still artful in its own capacity. Not to mention, it’s kind of hilarious and unsettling at the same time.

Perhaps even cooler is the fact that this particular bookstore was the first independent bookstore to open in Bordeaux, France, in 1896. Its employees are clearly set on only furthering its reputation of independence.

Check out the pictures here, let us know which ones are your favorite, and then head over to their Instagram account to see more!

#1

#2

#3

#4

#5

#6

#7

h/t Bored Panda

Read More

3 Things You Need to Know About High-Functioning Depression

Depression is a very complex mental condition that affects everyone differently. Those of us who have suffered from depression before know just how insufferable it truly is.

For some, the condition is just like many people believe it to be: feeling apathetic towards everything, feeling fatigued and unmotivated, crying, avoiding people and friends, etc. For many others, depression hides behind a happy face and a well-to-do attitude--masks that cover up any trace of unhappiness.

These people are suffering from high-functioning depression. And it’s important to know the difference.

High-functioning versus low-functioning depression

Unlike people with low-functioning depression who struggle to get out of bed or even take a shower, high-functioning depression is when a person is seemingly quite well on the outside, but on the inside they are consumed by sadness.

Professor of psychiatry Carol Landau says that she typically sees high-functioning depression in people who have relatively good (or even enviable) lives who have achieved a lot.

"People often say being high-functioning is better than being low-functioning, but that’s not really true because the most important thing is for a depressed person to get help — which a high-functioning person is limiting herself from," Landau says.

It’s often kept hidden because of the stigma surrounding it

So many people in the world today live with high-functioning depression. Some have been doing it for almost all of their lives without anyone ever noticing. One of the main reasons this is has to do with the negative stigma surrounding depression as a mental health condition.

Have you ever told someone you’re depressed and they ask why you can’t just be happy? Or why can’t you just stop being depressed? Depression is a largely misunderstood condition and people automatically become uneasy when you tell them about how lifeless you feel inside and how nothing changes it.

Landau says she sees it a lot in women because of their need “to be caregivers,” something that contradicts them “admitting [that they] need help.”

Learning how to recognize depression

”You might have a friend who is cranky all the time, or who people think of as a “bitch,“ but inwardly that person is really struggling. Other subtle signs to look for: ironic or morose jokes or often seeming out of it. For me, it was irritability,” explains Landau, describing how depression can manifest in a person differently than we tend to believe.

If you think someone you know or love is battling with depression, the best ways to reach out are by asking simple questions, like “How are you doing right now?” followed up with neutral phrases like “you seem kind of out of it lately” or “you don’t seem like yourself.” People with depression often just want you to listen to them.

If you feel that it’s a good time to offer suggestions or advice, come prepared with recommendations for a therapist or something that might help them get out of their head-space. But, be prepared for them not wanting your help or to leave their depressive comfort. Many people will take it the wrong way when you suggest them seeking out help.

“There are so many different types of therapists, medications, apps, and other tools. That’s why it’s tragic that so many people don’t seek help.”

Mental health is something many of us take for granted until our own begins to decline or suffer. It’s a terrible feeling and one that is hard to shake. If you’re depressed, do not be afraid to reach out for help. If you think someone might be depressed, listen to what they have to say and see if you can help.

Above all else, we must take care of each other.

h/t Brightside

Read More

Please Wait...Loading