Many people correlate self-discovery and revelation with international travel because of the reflective state in which it puts travelers. The fact that many people do not have the financial means to globetrot can make emphasis on self-discovery through international travel seem elitist and unnecessary.
But, self-discovery is important and many times, does not require an expensive plane ticket but rather, a willingness to recognize how we get ourselves into inescapable ruts that taint our perspective of the world.
When we surround ourselves with people who share our culture and goals, we lose sight of the bigger picture. While international travel can certainly help to break out of the blinding structure of our daily lives, the crux of self-discovery is to experience something outside of our norm — which is certainly not limited to international travel.
This does not require a passport, but rather just an open mind. Here are some ways to facilitate self-discovery by traveling no more than a few miles from your home:
Volunteer for a day with kids.
The vortex of illogical ruminations of self-importance that many harbor can nurture massive disillusionment. The key to staying grounded is to look closer to the ground: observe children. Children lead many people to see hope that that too many people fail to recognize as they grow older. The best part about working with kids is the gratitude that they supply.
All they want is your love and attention. There are no strings attached — as there usually are in adult interactions. Realizing that children will inevitable change and grow serves to remind me that the present isn’t indicative of the future. Things are likely to change and anything is possible.
As a generation that is attached to phones, computers and iPods, a day or two without these resources could bring about a fresh, enlightened perspective. When we aren’t filling our brains with constant exterior stimulation, we’re forced to confront naturally arising thoughts. Once we realize what we’re thinking without outside influence, we can get to the foundation of who we are.
Spend a day with the elderly.
Elderly people can offer huge amounts of wisdom and insight. Older people hold the unique power of experience; the ability to reflect on life and offer perspective regarding how decisions can possibly affect the future.
Try to pray.
Despite having no religious convictions, I sometimes like to just sit in the pews of a chapel and watch people pray. Too often, we find ourselves doing things without understanding our true end goals. Once we realize what we truly want in life, we can make our decisions with that goal in mind. Forcing yourself to pray makes you realize your priorities because the people and things you pray for most likely coincide with your priorities in life.
Go to “that” side of town.
You know what I’m talking about — the side of town without a Starbucks on every corner. Sit down in a restaurant, eat and listen. Sometimes it just takes hearing something new or something we haven’t heard in a while to get us to realize our own misconceptions. Anchoring yourself in an environment outside of your own gives immense perspective on reality. Upon realizing how other people have different agendas and value different things than you do, you’ll cultivate a new, expanded life perception.
Immerse yourself in different cultural neighborhoods.
Going to a heavily cultured house is just as good — or even more valuable — than an abroad experience. If you ever wanted to know what it’s like to experience a different culture, immerse yourself in the cultural neighborhoods and homes that are available in or around most metropolitan areas.