The Wonders We See Around Us

“We carry within us the wonders we see around us.”

—Sir Thomas Browne, 17th Century English Polymath

What does it mean to you to live an extraordinary life? Where do travel and adventure fit into your plans?

Years ago, I picked up a copy of 1000 Places to See Before you Die, and realized I was woefully behind making even a modest dent in the list.

Today’s quote points to the wonderland that is always available to each of us without ever getting into a car, train, boat, or plane.

EXERCISE:

Consider exploring your own inner wonders of creativity, love, spirit, faith, wisdom, kindness, and inner peace.
What other areas could you explore as you view other wonders in the world around you?

Reading gives us some place to go

“Reading gives us some place to go when we have to stay where we are.”

—Mason Cooley, Late American Aphorist

Image of a man reading at a bus stop

Photo by Laëtitia Buscaylet on Unsplash

My mother, Rose, was the most avid reader I’ve ever known. As a boy, I would frequently go with her to the library where, every three weeks, she would pick a new batch of 12 books. She devoured them every evening after dinner.

I recall her frustration on one occasion, in that she could not find, in our small local library, enough books of interest that she had not already read.

Although she was never a world traveler or college graduate, she took countless trips with her vivid imagination – wherever her written portals to adventure would take her.

EXERCISE:

Consider visiting your local library or bookstore to pick up a book that will take you on a great adventure, from the comfort of your favorite chair.

The Knowledge of the World

“The knowledge of the world is only to be acquired in the world, and not in a closet.”

-Lord Philip Dormer Stanhope, 4th Earl of Chesterfield

Image of Milford Sound in New Zealand

Image of Milford Sound from Flickr by Bernard Spragg

What do the following places have in common?

  • Bay of Islands
  • Milford Sound
  • Auckland
  • Dunedin
  • Tauranga
  • Wellington
  • Akaroa

For those who wish to travel more, these are wondrous destinations in New Zealand.

I visited these amazing places as part of my 60th birthday adventure. Getting out into the world can be transformational! In just a few weeks, I felt I took a quantum leap in my awareness and knowledge of geography, history, culture, plants, animals, and many other subjects.

EXERCISE:

How and in what ways can you investigate and explore your world more fully to add and expand to you awareness and knowledge?  Consider scheduling one of your most exciting “Bucket List” travel adventures soon.

“A mind that is stretched by a new…”

“A mind that is stretched by a new experience can never go back to its old dimensions.”

—Oliver Wendell Holmes, American physician & poet

Photo from Flickr by Moyan Brenn

Photo from Flickr by Moyan Brenn

My trip to Europe last month was definitely a mind stretcher. Relatively unaware of this region of the world, I was somewhat embarrassed by my ignorance of the languages, customs, architecture, and of course, history.

Seeing the churches, castles, cities, towns, villages, and of course the people, made me realize that I am a not-so-worldly citizen with much to learn. I also now can see that both my roots and Wendy’s were formed to a good degree through the lives of previous generations of our families, who came from Europe.

EXERCISE:

What new experiences have you had recently, or are about to experience in the next month or so? How can and will you make the most of these mind-stretching opportunities?

“Traveling: it leaves you speechless, then…”

“Traveling: it leaves you speechless, then turns you into a storyteller.”

—Ibn Battuta, 14th century Moroccan explorer

photo from goodreads.com

photo from goodreads.com

One of my favorite books by Dr Seuss is Oh The Places You’ll Go, often given as a gift to high school or college graduates as they step into their life journey.

For many of us, this sense of adventure and excitement wanes as we settle into our day-to-day lives, work, and other more routine responsibilities.

Perhaps this is why most of my coaching clients have travel, adventure, and fun as things they want more of as they move forward. We simply want more WOW moments that leave us speechless. When we tell these “wow” stories, they often ignite the flame in others, causing them to more fully experience life, too.

EXERCISE:

Where have you longed to travel? Find someone who has actually been there – or perhaps a few people – and let their stories ignite a spark in you. When you make your plans and go yourself, consider what stories you will share that would benefit others.

“Travel and change of place…”

“Travel and change of place impart new vigor to the mind.”

-Seneca, Roman statesman & tutor to Nero

Photo from Flickr by Eelke de Blouw

Photo from Flickr by Eelke de Blouw

Traveling in Europe was a learning smorgasbord. I did all I could to taste the variety and abundance of its offerings, including:

The variety of languages multiple currencies
Jaw-dropping architecture Local customs & traditions
Music & art Great food and drink
Business & commerce Politics & religion
The natural beauty & history of the region

As an American, I was shocked at how my mental models and perceptions of the world have limited me and kept my world reasonably small. As a business and personal coach, I plan to take the blinder off, in particular with my coaching colleagues who live beyond my doorstep.

EXERCISE:
How can you more fully benefit from your own travels and change of place to experience greater vigor in your journey of the mind?

“People don’t take trips. Trips take people.”

“People don’t take trips. Trips take people.”

—John Steinbeck, American author

Photo from Flickr by EBImagery

Photo from Flickr by EBImagery

The calm riverboat cruise my wife Wendy and I took down the Danube was a trip of a lifetime, providing us lots of time to reflect on our lives. Of particular interest was how this journey took us back in time to visit the lives of people who lived hundreds and even thousands of years ago.

We were accompanied by 136 fellow passengers from around the world, who generously shared their friendship and bits of their lives with us as we toured a number of cities, sharing good food and conversation.

EXERCISE:

As you enter the summer months, how can you more fully embrace the places you visit? What can you do to look beyond the surface and experience these adventures more completely?

“Life is like a road trip…”

“Life is like a road trip. Enjoy each day, and don’t carry too much baggage.”

-Author Unknown

Photo from Flickr by Georg Sander

Photo from Flickr by Georg Sander

When I first met my wife Wendy almost forty years go, she would often tell me stories of her family’s famous road trips. Her mom, dad, and two sisters would spontaneously jump into their station wagon and head off to places unknown. Each passenger had their turn at directing the driver, telling them to continue on the current road, or to turn right or left.

When they got hungry, they would discover places to eat. When they got tired, they found places to rest. They often traveled with only the clothes on their backs, and little else.

EXERCISE:

How can you live today as if you were on a road trip?  What can you do to enjoy it to the max, taking little or no real or mental baggage along for the ride?

“I would like to travel..”

“I would like to travel the world with you twice. Once, to see the world. Twice, to see the way you see the world.”

—Author Unknown

Photo from Flickr by Nilanjan Sasmal

Photo from Flickr by Nilanjan Sasmal

The majority of my coaching clients would include travel as one of their core values. They want to see and experience more of the world with the precious time they have left. To some extent, they have a bit of regret that they haven’t made a bigger dent in their bucket lists.

Have you ever noticed how much joy and excitement is experienced when a baby is born?  Perhaps it is because this new life allows all of us—especially the new parents and grandparents—to start a new life “adventure” with a child who is seeing the world for the first time.

EXERCISE:

How can you be far more intentional in your efforts to see and experience the world, and at the same time, double your pleasure by looking through the eyes of those who share the adventure?

“All things come to pass.”

“All things come to pass.”

—Heraclitus, pre-Socratic Greek Philosopher

Photo from Flickr by Kpcmobile

Photo from Flickr by Kpcmobile

We’ve all heard the phrase “Nothing Lasts Forever.” This, of course, includes the good things as well as the bad. After each great storm the sun shines again, and then the clouds and storms return.

Given these facts, how might we gain power from Heraclitus’ words of wisdom? Perhaps we can choose an optimistic frame of reference to both maximize and celebrate the good in life, and also minimize the times when life brings us down.

EXERCISE:

How can you accentuate the positive and eliminate or at least minimize the negative, which will come to pass throughout your day?

Consider making the exercise above a daily practice to support you in living an even more extraordinary life.