How Traveling Builds Self Esteem | Living Consciously

*This is the first of a three-part series on travel and self-esteem

Over the past two years, I’ve written and podcasted a lot about the value travel can provide from a personal development perspective. One of the biggest areas people see improvement after traveling is in self-esteem.

Long-term travel, especially to the developing world, is a environment that is very conducive to building self-esteem.

So first off what is self-esteem?

In simplest terms possible, and paraphrased from Nathaniel Branden, self-esteem is simply the reputation you have built with your self.

The level of trust in yourself, and the feeling you have about yourself and your actions in those quiet moments when you reflect on your life.

Nathaniel Branden literally wrote the book on self-esteem. Branden defines 6 practices, or 6 pillars that you can look to as a measure of self-esteem and as a pathway to improve your reputation with yourself.

Those six pillars are:

  1. The Practice of Living Consciously
  2. The Practice of Self-Acceptance
  3. The Practice of Self-Responsibility
  4. The Practice of Self-Assertiveness
  5. The Practice of Living Purposefully
  6. The Practice of Living with Integrity

Activities and environments that push you to adopt these practices, are conducive to improving self-esteem.

I’m going to take them one by one over the next three days. Today, living consciously.

The Practice of Living Consciously

Living consciously is exactly what it sounds like. Being present with the world around, and inside you on a day to day basis. Noticing the stimuli around you and the affect they have on you.

Living consciously is the opposite of running on auto-pilot.

When you are locked in a life that features the same tasks day after day after day the temptation is to live on auto-pilot. To never really be present with the activity your working on and to hope the day quickly slips by.

When you travel everything becomes novel again. You are experiencing new places, new ideas, and new people, so the depth of your experience deepens.

You notice the people around you as you walk through the streets. You notice the colors of the houses, the style of the business, the smells, sounds, and flavors of your experiences.

Time almost warps as you absorb the world on a deeper level. This is why so many people return from a long trip with the feeling that on one hand it went by fast, but on the other hand packed those 3 or 6 months of travel felt like 2 years of normal life.

The opposite is true of living unconsciously.

In the push to have your days go by quicker, the hours of your workday stretch on. But you look back over the past 2 years of your life, and wonder where did it all go?

It felt like just a moment a go that I was starting this job, moving to this city, and now 2 years have passed and not much has changed.

Living consciously is the foundation that the other practices are built upon.

Without bringing your conscious attention to your life none of the other pillars are attainable.

Traveling somewhere new is one of the best ways to break out of auto-pilot and to experience the depth and enjoyment of a life lived consciously.

Tomorrow I’ll carry on with pillars two and three and the ways in which travel is conducive to self-acceptance and self-responsibility.

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