I recently returned from a 9 month trip across South East Asia and this experience has forever changed my life. It's my hope that wherever you are at the time of reading this that you make every effort to explore the world and experience what it has to offer. Since my return, if there’s one question that everyone in my circle has asked me is – how are you adjusting to life back in Canada (Toronto more specifically)
There’s nothing unusual about this question, but the underlying answer I’ve been contemplating and reflecting on for the last few nights is.
We’ve all heard the saying or used it ourselves – "…better quality of life." I’m not sure that we’ve stopped to define what “quality life” really means to us as individuals. If I did myself, it was on a very high level and usually linked to cost of living comparisons, but certainly not definining what a quality life means. While in Korea I had the fortune of doing a temple stay at a Buddhist temple – an amazing experience and one I suggest you add to your Xcitelife bucketlist – I must add.
For two days not speaking, unless absolutely necessary, going to bed by 9pm and waking up at 4:30am, prostrating daily and doing chores for the community is enough to slow you down so that you can actually pay attention to what’s really important, which is YOU and your state of mind. The first thing I noticed was that wanting anything ceases to exist. The minute you arrive at the temple, the first thing you do is trade in your wardrobe for a temple suit. For the first time since being a baby perhaps, I was stripped of everything that I associated any real value to (i.e. phone, laptop, gadgets, etc.). Having the opportunity to stop in today's fast paced society puts things into perspective, it helps you to reevaluate things you often just accept as being normal and ask yourself truly, why? Why is whatever really important? Is this a need or a want? Traveling throughout SEA, you often meet people that want the very things that you take forgranted or don’t want period, like a job, decent pay, to feed their family or visit their family.
So how much is enough?
If your wired like most of us, chances are your answer is more, whether or not, you’re aware of it. We are all on this hedonic treadmill of wanting and equating it to needing – everything. A new iPhone, a new TV, a new car, a new house, a new camera and the list goes on and on. The biggest thing I noticed on my return to Canada is the societal pressure one feels just living in North America, whether its to keep up with the Joneses or just wanting things to symbolize where we want others to perceive us to be and essentially feed our egos.
At no time during my travels did I feel the desire to want anything more than the experience itself. I was liberated, I was a tourist, no one knew who I was, what my personal net worth was and whether I was driving a scooter or a Lamborghini. I’m not advocating against doing nice things for yourself or purposely starving or torturing yourself to fight against commercialism, I’m referring to the constant urge of wanting. The first step is being aware, realizing that not every urge needs to be fulfilled and certainly not on impulse. With a little resistance to these urges you soon start to realize that you can gain some momentum by not giving in. For some, fighting these wants can be as simple as resisting junk food, or impulse shopping or drinking, and the benefits can be almost immediate, whether it's healtheir eating habits, being able to save for a life changing experience or better relationships.
As they say clarity is power, but NOT surprisingly, finding clarity can be challenging. Whether its what you want out of a career, in a mate, or whatever, it’s not that easy to define it, but that’s the secret. If you can define it, you have a chance at clarity and having clarity means that you can better determine a need from a want.
It's a work in progress for me, but I think I'm gaining some momentum. Good luck and fill me in as you continue on your journey.