One thing I can’t help but notice is the level of appreciation I always have for everything when I’m about to board a plane in the next 24 hours.
Within those 24 hours, it’s like I have a new pair of eyes, a new set of ears, and a fresh new nose and taste buds to go with it so I can truly appreciate what is around me.
It’s like life’s way of telling you. This is about to end. Remember this moment.
And it’s funny because I try to do this all the time in my everyday life. You know… this thing called, “Being in the moment,” but it doesn’t really ever work quite as well as I want it to. If I try really hard. Sure. Maybe I am a little more focused. A little more patient. And a little more accepting of subtle annoyances around me. But nothing quite jumps my appreciation levels to 1000 quite like knowing that this is all going to end.
Marcel Proust was a big advocate of this in his book, “In Search of Lost Time”. He advised all of us to think of death often. In fact, maybe you should even keep a skull on your table to remind you that your life will eventually end, so as to make us a little more resilient in the face of adversity and a little more appreciative for the sweet little nothings in life.
But then that could also be a bit too somber for my tastes. I went so far as going on Amazon, searching for a replica of a human skull and even added it to my cart. But I never pushed the “Buy Now” button.
Instead, I think it is a good idea to take trips abroad often just for this very effect: Appreciation for what we already have.
There’s another saying that goes: "You don’t know what you have until it’s gone"
Therefore, we must be proactive about ridding ourselves of what we have every so often for the sole purpose of being able to RE-see everything we have in a new light. In order to bring our sense of appreciation back, we must take away all the things we've grown accustomed to due to prolonged exposure. The Golden Gate Bridge, the fact that we have hot running water, or even something as simple as having a cafe down the block from our house with that one barista who knows us by name and knows exactly we what we want every time.
I think travel has been too strongly associated with luxury. The fancy vacation packages. 5-star hotels. Cruises to exotic places with palm trees and foods you can’t pronounce. It’s all fine in its own way but this strong correlation overshadows the other really true and essential benefits of travel…
Ridding yourself of your comfort so as to be able to come back and say wow! The Golden Gate Bridge! Hot running water! A cafe down the block!
To date, nothing has been able to do this quite as effectively as simply leaving for a little while, and then coming back.
So, for those who’ve been wanting to travel, perhaps this could be a reason to do so. No, not for the fancy stuff. Not for the epic selfies. But for your own sake, and as contradictory as it may sound, maybe even a happier healthier life.
by Jason Lam