Tag Archives: travel

Wake Up! to the sound of nothing

18 Feb

Doolin wavesLast week I was so lucky to have a couple of days to myself. I decided to drop in on one of my favourite places in the world Doolin, Co Clare. Specifically to the Rainbow hostel where Carmel and Mattie Shannon provided  warm and welcoming hospitality in their homely hostel.

The real reason I was down was to buy a Surfboard and catch some surfing in nearby Lahinch. I managed to get the surfing in which was a beautiful Wake Up! while enjoying thew February Atlantic. As the Danish say “There is no such thing as bad weather, just the wrong clothes“.

I never purchased the Surfboard as the surf assistants unwillingness to haggle cost him a sale. Even a 5% token discount would have got him a happy customer and a sale at a time of the year when things are slow. Not great business sense …but there you go.

The two days down by the Atlantic where so therapeutic. Surfing by day and watching the waves crash against Doolin pier  and surrounding rocks at high tide each evening was a form of meditation. As I walked up the country road to the hostel at night the sky provided the clearest views of the stars that I had ever seen. Beautiful and silent with just the sounds of the crashing Atlantic in the distance as I walked. Inside Carmel’s hostel the log stove in the front room provided warmth in a room filled with nothing but the wind from outside as I sat reading and connecting with the wonderful stillness of the present moment.

The experience that you get in the Rainbow hostel is not found in any Hotels that I have visited. maybe it’s the warm welcome from Carmel the scones in the morning or just the simple solitude. Whatever it is it works.

Nature is beautiful yet we rarely make enough connections with it as we fleetingly move from distractions to distractions that never provide lasting imprints on our memories. As the world turned and the Pope abdicated while share prices rose and fell and rose again none of this seemed to matter as the silence and pleasure of the now in a small remote town on the western coast of Europe took over.

Happy Days.

Lessons for living-Think small

23 Aug

We have spent the past week talking about the reasons for living that Gerontologist Dr Karl Pillimer compiled from talking to 1200 elderly people. People who have lived their lives and looked back and realized what contributes to a happy, fulfilling existence. Some of us may realize that the path we are taking through our lives does not correlate with what those that have experienced life and might have a greater panorama about how life works. We have talked about the importance of connections with others in relation to our wellbeing, we also talked about how travel is a wonderful way to open us up to situations and worlds that we might never have experienced if we had not left our couches. The first day we talked about the importance of looking after our health at a young age it will matter a lot once we get older and how worrying about what most likely will never happen only taints our present experiences negatively.

All our lives we have been thought to think big and there seems to be something wonderful about the imagined possibilities that we can achieve once we dream. The huge house, the sports car, the overburdened bank account, the super dooper yacht, the life of leisure, or life as a celebrity or oil magnate.

But what would happen if suddenly…. you were to think.. small. If you were to find wonder in the small things that life has to offer, the beautiful sight of sun dappling through your windows on a sunny morning, the softness of your pillow when so many in the world do not have them. The smell of freshly brewed coffee, the smile from a passing stranger or the scent of fresh-cut grass at the start of summer. The list could go on and on as it regularly does in my classes .It is when we value the beauty and intricacies of the small wonders in life that the outstanding moments become even more memorable.

A good example of this is Denmark and its people. The Danish people over the past 30 years have time and time again polled as the happiest nation on the planet followed by countries like Norway, Finland, Sweden and Netherlands.

A Danish Professor Kaare Christensen  decided to look into why the Danes always polled so high in the World Happinesss report. He noted that ” In countries like Italy and Spain people have much higher expectations for what the coming year will bring, but they are not especially happy or satisfied with their existence”.

He suggests that Danes take a more realistic view of life ” Year after year we’re just happy things didn’t go as badly as we feared”. In truth Danish expectations are pretty modest. They don’t seek to change the world or dominate it. They are just Happy to be.

The Danish football team had not made it to the 1992 European cup they were beaten into second place by Yugoslavia a team that was to be withdrawn from the tournament ten days before it started due to international sanctions. Denmark quickly had to reassemble their players many who were now on holiday with their families. They arrived at the tournament and proceeded to advance from their group ahead of France and England. Beat the Dutch in the semi finals and then win the final with a 2-0 result against the mighty Germany. The country was ecstatic no one expected this to happen which made it all the more glorious.

As Kaare Christensen says” If you are doing pretty well and once in a while your outstanding you’re pretty happy about it but if you’re starting point is you should be outstanding that’s not good”.

By having low expectations one is rarely disappointed. We live in a world where our expectations are very high all the time  “If a job is worth doing it’s worth doing well” we hear. We set targets for ourselves were we say that failure is not an option or that until something is perfect we are not happy about it. We constantly have to be a 10 when most of the time a 6 or 7 is ok . It is important that we understand that it’s ok to be ok. Because when we strive to be the best all the time and don’t achieve it what do we feel?

We have seen the joy on the faces of the Olympic athletes who have won gold and the desperation on the faces of some that have won silver to the delight at those that have won bronze. Studies have proven this.  Those that won silver are feeling the disappointment of being so close to the worlds greatest. Those that won bronze ( like the Danish football team) might not have expected a medal at all and are ecstatic with their result.

Sometimes when we strive for goals in life we fail to see the wonder or the awesomeness of our life in the present for a feeling in the future. If you achieve your goal that is fine if you don’t achieve your goal that is also fine. Enjoy the journey.

We all know of examples of business that were very successful that turned over a profit and kept their staff with a comfortable salary who decide on World domination only to fold completely within a few years.

Remember that life is more than achieving goal after goal and feeling that perfection should always follow you and everything in life must be a 10. As I tell all people who attend my workshops…. sometimes it’s ok to be just…ok!

Lessons for living -Travel more

21 Aug

As someone who has just returned from 10 days travelling and surfing the West coast of Ireland I can vouch for this. Travelling opens us up to activities and experiences that remain within our memory for a very long time. Not only do these memories stay with us but the happiness that we experience from meeting new people (remember we love to make social connections) and exploring new environments and cultures make some of the highlights of our lives.

Some of the greatest stories that we tell about our lives are the stories we experienced while travelling. All the Elders that had come to the latter part of their lives realized that travelling more was a great contributor to happiness in life. I am only thinking of the people I met while hostelling in Doolin Co Clare last week from Germany Italy , France and Austria that I would not have met if I had not left my sitting room couch. Similarly the beauty and memories of an ice cold Prague in February or a sun drenched Turkish holiday to some of the worlds most amazing archaeological sites would not have been realized. Sitting in the Roman arena in Verona with 20,000 other people as the opera is about to commence or surfing on the Australian East coast in beautiful warm waters are also treasured. Travelling by train across the southern alps in New Zealand or riding a bike with my daughter around the beautiful walled city of Lucca in Italy.

Not all flowed so easily  though like having no visa in Johannesburg for a flight to Australia. Losing my credit card on a hung over morning in Ko Samui in Thailand with 18 hours travelling ahead and no money at all to pay the exit tax from Thailand. Those experiences stay with you forever and become moments in your life that you can dip in and out of. They are the blueprints of a lived life.

If necessary you should sacrifice other things to ensure that travel becomes a large part of your life. It also allows you to experience life outside your comfort zone and this is where you grow.

As older people in Dr Karl Pillimer’s research the legacy project have said “Most people look back on their travel adventures as highlights of their lives, If you have to make decisions whether you want to remodel your kitchen or take a trip- well then take a trip.”

%d bloggers like this: