Travel and Its Lessons of Tolerance


I must admit I have learned more during my current trip through Southeast Asia than during any trip I’ve taken. This marks the first extended trip I’ve taken with another person, that person being my boyfriend. You never truly get to know someone until you spend a significant amount of time with the individual day after day over a period of years.

You also never get to know yourself until you live in a different culture for an extended period. Each day introduces you to new people, new mindsets, new cuisine and an overall fresh, interesting experience. Sometimes I resisted this newness, totally fed up with life in a different part of the world. I spent more than a few moments pining for a meal from back home at my favorite pizzeria, or a trip to Whole Foods. At most times though I cultivated an attitude of tolerance.

Embracing Life

By being tolerant of others and ourselves we learn to embrace the richness life has to offer us. It’s easy to trudge through life with blinders on, wanting to see things only one way – your way – and remaining stubbornly resistant to viewpoints which are opposite our own. By living with someone each day, in a foreign environment, you are quickly introduced to new thoughts, new ideas, new opinions and new points of view.

In order to move through life with non-resistance, you must be tolerant. Tolerant of the ideas of people you live with, tolerant of local customs or local cuisine. It is this tolerance which fosters peace of mind, a sense of calm confidence which helps you to embrace all which comes your way.

Southeast Asia Cuisine

I am blessed in that most of our travel spots afforded us with vegetarian restaurants. Some of the more remote outposts didn’t offer us as many options. I learned quickly what eggs and bread tastes like for breakfast, day after day. I became sick at the thought of eating another egg. As for dinner, stir fried rice with vegetables was the norm in a few of our travel spots, and I got sick of this meal too.

I soon shifted my viewpoint: instead of being sick of these meals, I should be grateful to have the means to eat 3 square meals a day, even if the meals were the same each day. Many farmers who live in Central Vietnam make but a few dollars a day, if that. These individuals typically go days without eating a single thing, being forced to sell the food they should have eaten to make a few extra bucks.

Expressing Gratitude

Expressing gratitude can create a strong sense of tolerance in your being. Instead of complaining about all the fish restaurants in Phuket, Thailand, I learned to focus on the select few vegetarian restaurants I enjoyed vesting. As I shifted my focus I concentrated more on being tolerant of conditions and less on my dissatisfaction with certain situations.

If you have problems being tolerant of people or life in general, I strongly suggest that you travel throughout the world. Learn to view life from a different perspective and you will quickly learn how to embrace the richness life has to offer you.

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