We are living in a culture where spirituality, gratitude, and practicing the law of attraction are all quite trendy. This is not a negative thing of course — making the effort to be grateful and positive every day can have huge impacts on your overall happiness. However, it’s much easier to jump on board the train and claim gratitude than it is to really step back and look at your relationship to your circumstances every day.
Many travellers will claim that above all, travelling taught them to be grateful for the opportunities they have to travel, to have been born into situations where travel is even a possibility. I am not here to say that is not the case. Coming face to face with poverty, exploitation, and injustice on varying levels is truly eye-opening when it is so distant from the reality you’ve known your whole life. It is a different thing to read articles and see images online than it is to see and hear stories in person. I’d say it is impossible for the average person to not be overcome with gratitude when faced with these situations.
However, gratitude can dissipate quickly when confronted with the common human condition that can easily be summed up with “so, what next?”
The Mindset of Always Chasing the Next Adventure
I’ve seen it and experienced it myself a million times before. You can have the most amazing experiences, visit the most exciting and off-the-beaten path destinations, but before you get a chance to breathe and take it all in, you’ve moved on to what’s next. Suddenly that trip to Indonesia that you’ve been dreaming about for years is over and you’ve already moved on to the next destination. Or your photos from that vacation in Greece are growing stale on Instagram so it’s time to freshen up your gallery with something new.
We are living in a society where we are constantly comparing our lives to others via social media. And so, we constantly need to catch up by making our highlight reel at least on par with our most adventurous peers. But does that mean sacrificing gratitude — that word we use again and again to make a case for travel?
I’m not saying that pursuing goals is wrong. Chasing adventure is an exciting way to live that opens your mind and heart to new and unique experiences and teaches countless lessons. However, there comes a point where chasing the next thing without taking the time to reflect on and appreciate the last can be detrimental at worst and a lost opportunity at best.
Making Daily Gratitude a Habit: The How and Why
Luckily, taking a breath and dedicating a few moments to really practicing gratitude for the experiences you’ve had is a habit that can be built. It doesn’t have to be confined to the most obvious moments, when you are really forced to take a look at how your good fortune contrasts with your surroundings. It can be something you practice in small moments every day that truly has a positive impact on your life, and potentially on those around you through a building desire to do good.
I use the Five Minute Journal App to take a few minutes at the beginning of the day to list three things I am grateful for, three things I can do to make the day great, and come up with a daily affirmation, then at the end of the day to list three things that made the day great and what I could have done to make the day better. Of course, this is something you can use a journal to keep record of, but having an app prompt you in the morning and evening is a good way to build a habit.
Not only does practicing gratitude take you out of the mindset of competing with everyone on your Instagram feed, but it can alter the way you travel. Instead of constantly chasing “what’s next,” you’ll find more desire to build on experiences, make contributions, and pursue travel experiences that align more with your values and goals.
So, whether you find an app that suits you or simply use a journal, try making a concerted effort to bring more gratitude into your daily life. It can only lead to good things.