Tired of all the negativity? Time to turn it around. Take steps to adopt a positive mindset.

You’re awesome!

Do you know that?

You’re so awesome that it took 13.8 billion years to create you. You’re awesome because you are star dust. You traveled through the far reaches of space to get here at this time and this place.

The world needs what you and only you can give.

These are truths to think about when you’re in a negative space. When you’re thinking negative thoughts about yourself or your life. We quickly forget about how awesome it is that we’re here on this Earth at this time. Whether part of a master plan or a cosmic accident, it’s amazing that you and I are here.

That doesn’t mean that some days, some weeks, some years are harder than others. Here are five tips to use when you’re in a negative mental place and need to adopt a positive mindset:

Happiness isn’t a destination.

You’ve heard it before, but it bears repeating: Happiness isn’t a destination. If you always wait to arrive at happiness, you’ll never get there. I may ruffle feathers with this, but happiness is a choice. If you want to adopt a positive mindset, start there.

Misery loves company. It’s easy to gravitate toward — or be — the Negative Nancy or the Kelvin Killjoy. If you want to bitch about work, about politics, about last night’s game or anything, you’ll find comradery quickly. Negative people feed off negative people, which can lead to a perpetual cycle of negativity.

People proudly, often too proudly, proclaim that they’re quitting Facebook, taking a social media hiatus or completed a mass-unfollowing. They’re shedding negativity in some way, shape or form. They choose to stop feeding off negativity.

When you intentionally choose happiness every day, you’ll be happier.

Even a fake smile helps.

So, you’ve chosen to go against your “tude” and be happy.

What do you do? For starters, fake a smile. Even a fake smile releases dopamine, endorphins, and serotonin into our bodies. These hormones are known as the “happy chemicals.”

Just when you don’t want to smile is the perfect time to smile. Force a smile for yourself and then smile at someone else. Smiles are contagious, and the world would benefit from a pandemic of smiles. Plus, it will go a long way as you work to adopt a positive mindset.

Connect with awesome people.

We’re social creatures, even possibly social aliens as we are all made of stars. As I said, misery loves company, and some company is perpetually miserable. As Bob Proctor says, you don’t need to cut these people out of your life if they’re important to you. Just spend less time with them less frequently.

Replace your time spent with miserable people with individuals who lift you up. Better yet, as Lisa Nichols says, “Surround yourself with people who make you stand on your tippy toes.” They’ll help you become a better version of yourself.

If you fill your life with more positive people, you’ll feel more positive, and you’ll produce better results. When you harness this power of positivity, you can use it to help your less positive friends and family.

Have positively positive thoughts.

We often think we’re trying to be positive when we’re negative. As Jake Ducey says, when we think positively about getting the things we want, we’re coming from a place of lack. For example, when you say, “I know I can be more positive,” you’re acknowledging that you lack positivity and you’re in search of it. You don’t have it now. So, act as though you already have it.

Oprah said, “Be thankful for what you have; you’ll end up having more. If you concentrate on what you don’t have, you will never, ever have enough.” Oprah made no mention of paying attention to or focusing on what you’re lacking, not even to overcome a scarcity mindset.

We all want to end war, right? As Ducey shared, Mother Theresa used positively thinking positive thoughts best when she said, “I will never attend an anti-war rally; if you have a peace rally, invite me.” Anti-war demonstrations, the War on Drugs, the War on Crime and the War on Poverty are all counter-productive because they all start from a place of negativity.

If we focus on uplifting each other and the world, we’ll get more positive results.

Motivate yourself in the second person.

We all talk to ourselves. The problem is, as Mel Robbins says, “If others heard how we talk to ourselves we’d be put in an institution.” Too often we consciously and unconsciously speak to ourselves, negatively and it’s the unconscious negative talk about which we really should be concerned.

Positive self-talk in the first-person isn’t enough, though. Internal dialogue like, “I’m happy,” “I’m a good person,” “I can do this,” and other positive statements are acceptable. They’re certainly better than the opposite. However, research shows that there’s a better way to talk to yourself and it’s a way many of the most successful people speak to themselves.

Dr. Srini Pillay says that research shows that talking to yourself in the second person produces even better results. We like to compliment ourselves, but we value compliments from others more. Use this strategy in place of receiving the same validation from others.

The good news is that it’s positively possible to change your negative mindset and adopt a positive mindset. It just takes a little bit of faith and trying some unique, even seemingly weird tricks to turn that frown upside down.

Oh, if none of the above helps, go to Toys R Us. One can’t stay negative playing with children’s toys.

Every single blade of grass,
And every flake of snow –
Is just a wee bit different …
There’s no two alike, you know.

From something small, like grains of sand,
To each gigantic star
All were made with this in mind:
To be just what they are!

How foolish then, to imitate –
How useless to pretend!
Since each of us comes from a mind
Whose ideas never end.

There’ll only be just one of me
To show what I can do –
And you should likewise feel very proud,
There’s only one of you.

That is where it all starts
With you, a wonderful
unlimited human being.

“One and Only You” by James T. Moore

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You won’t get everything you want. Not everything will work out. And that’s ok.

At this point in my life, I’ve lost track of the number of times that I’ve been rejected.

It’s a pretty humbling experience being rejected for the things that you want in your life: love, jobs, opportunities and more.

At a moment in history when it feels like people are pushing back from the notion that they even could be rejected from what they want, I would like to argue that the experience of being rejected is even more important than ever.

Rejection makes you tough.

Rejection gives you balls.

Not the real ones. The metaphorical balls of a person who has to learn how to dig in deeper, consider doing something a different way, or re-imagine how to reach goals that they hope to achieve because they failed the first time.

Do you remember when you experienced your first epic rejection?

For many people, it could be the experience of getting a rejection letter from the college that you had to get into. For me, it was Northwestern in Chicago. I actually was accepted by the other six colleges that I applied to. However, I got a big fat “no” from Northwestern, and it hurt.

Did that rejection end my world? No. I worked with the cards that I was dealt and ended up going to a university in the same conference and receiving an excellent education. I don’t wonder about “what if?” Because that ship has sailed.

Don’t focus on the “what if?”

Many people who experience rejection focus on the “what if?”

They ask themselves “what if I had married that guy/girl?” Well, you didn’t. You experienced something else instead.

Asking yourself “what if I had gone to Colombia instead of Australia?” is pointless. You didn’t.

And there’s nothing wrong with that.

In fact, I would love to share some of the moments of rejection that I’ve experienced. Time to get real.

  • I auditioned for the Denver Broncos Cheerleading squad two or three times. One of those times I made it to the second or third round (it has been awhile) I didn’t get it.
  • I auditioned for the Denver Nuggets dance squad. I was rocking it out when the girl next to me fell, so I helped her get up. She got up and kept dancing. She moved forward to the next round. I didn’t.
  • I remember wanting to date this one guy who just didn’t seem to be that into me. We hooked up. Ahem. He still didn’t want to date me.
  • I’ve pitched a session or panel to a conference that I attend yearly. I still haven’t had a session picked. Plus, I’ve never won an award from that community and I still continue to attend and smile.

These experiences have taught me to manage these situations with short and long-term solutions. In the short-term, it’s perfectly fine to be devastated about an outcome that hasn’t worked out the way that you expected.

But it doesn’t help to sit around asking yourself “what if?” all the time. You’ll be much better off in the long run if you acknowledge the experiences you have had and dwell less on the rejection.

Grit and resilience through rejection.

Rejection is basically the other side of the reality that not everything will go your way. That’s a really good thing.

Suck it up buttercup, life doesn’t always work the way you want it to.

But that doesn’t mean you give up. It’s important to embrace strategies that will help you cope during those moments when you get kicked in the pants by life.

Keep things in perspective. Most people in the U.S. experience First World Problem rejections. We get rejected for the types of things that are beyond the dreams of most people. At the end of the day, you still have running water, electricity, and clothes on your back.

Understand that this is just one moment in time. Other opportunities to be accepted or rejected will continue to present themselves to you each and every day.

Embrace the experience, even if it’s painful. There is an old saying, “It’s better to have loved and lost than to never have loved before.” Rejection basically is an experience that people have when they put themselves out there and open themselves to the reality of a well-lived life.

Rejection opens new paths

I don’t regret falling in love with past loves that didn’t work out.

I am now able to look back at different relationships that didn’t work out and acknowledge my part in the breakdown of each relationship.

I’m also able to reflect on most of those relationships and remember the good and the bad without feeling upset about how those relationships ended. With time I’ve learned that every relationship has a season and that the ones that didn’t work weren’t meant to be.

I think of the jobs that I didn’t get and am amazed by how happy I am now that they didn’t work out.

Rejection has made me a much more empathetic, relatable, and thoughtful person. I’m sure if everything had always worked the way that I wanted it to when rejection finally knocked at my door I would have been devastated and ill-equipped to deal with it.

Finally, if you’re having a hard time dealing with rejection, check out the following celebrity stories: Halle Berry, Oprah Winfrey, Steve Jobs, and Jim Lee.

Remember, rejection offers a person two different opportunities: to become dejected or create fuel for the “next” thing.

What will you decide to do the next time you’re rejected?

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Ugh. Life getting in the way of happiness again? Feel better ASAP when you use any of these life hacks to boost your mood and improve your life.

Have you felt kind of … blah … lately?

I know I have.

Spring doesn’t seem to want to make an appearance. I’ve got a lot on my plate. My teenager will soon be driving.

But all this negativity isn’t helping me. It’s not good for my mental state, and it’s not good for my quality of life or health.

So how do I bust out of this negatively?

The good news is it actually doesn’t take much. While a good vacation would be amazing, the reality is that I’m really not in a place where I can just drop everything and spend money on a trip to Hawaii. Instead, I’m going to have to life hack my way out of this one.

I learned a long time ago that feeling better about life can be as simple as an afternoon with a book or a brisk walk in the sunshine. If start to feel blah here are a few life hacks that can help you feel better about life almost immediately.

1. Help someone.

One of the best ways to break out of a funk is to help someone. Volunteer work has happiness benefits. You don’t even have to go so far as to spend an entire afternoon at the food pantry (although that’s not a bad way to spend a few hours). Just buying coffee for the person in line behind you, or helping your neighbor carry groceries can provide you with a bit of a mood boost.

2. Buy flowers.

Studies indicate that just looking at flowers can make you happier. I keep a plant near my desk. And, if someone doesn’t send me flowers, I go out and buy them myself. If you are feeling down, take a break and work in the flower garden or buy a bloom or two. It’s inexpensive, won’t lead to unnecessary clutter at home, and it will brighten your day.

3. Go for a walk.

In addition to flowers, this is one of my favorite go-to life hacks for feeling better almost instantly. Just getting up, stretching and walking up and down the stairs helps. But you get double happiness points if you get outside and walk in the sun.

4. Hug someone.

One of the best life hacks out there is hugging. Physical contact with others can help you feel better about life almost immediately. Cuddle with your kids. Get a massage from your S.O. Give a friend a hug.

But what if bae doesn’t like being touched or what if, like me, you’re single-ish? There’s a solution for that. I get a facial once a month, and manicures twice a month. Sure, I’m being paid to be touched, but it still improves my mood. Plus, I give my son a hug every morning before he leaves for school.

You can get that human interaction and feel better. Even introverts need to feel connected.

5. Listen to music.

Crank up the volume. Upbeat music can help you feel happy. When you listen to music you like, you get a mental break. Singing along can even increase the enjoyment. I love singing along to my favorite tunes — even if I’m not that great at it. If you’re looking for a release and an instant mood boost must is the way to go.

6. Hang out with happy people.

Who’s the happiest person you know? When you feel shitty, go find that person and hang out. Don’t complain at them. Just hang out and have fun. When you surround yourself with happy people, you are more likely to be happy. It’s one of the great life hacks.

7. Eat something healthy.

Full disclosure: I just ate three cookies. My son and I had a baking extravaganza and I sort of went for it. The downside to eat unhealthy food is the way it makes you feel afterward. Tame that sweet tooth.

A handful of nuts, an apple, or some carrot sticks can go a longer way toward helping you feel happy. Do your best to eat better in general. I’ve been slowly adding healthier food to my diet, and eating less junk.

Something healthy can perk you up immediately. And developing healthy eating habits can help you feel happier in general.

8. Smell something delicious.

One of my favorite life hacks for feeling better is to change the smells. Vanilla is one smell that many humans like — and that makes us happy to smell. (In fact, eating vanilla yogurt can help you feel better about life instantly.)

Figure out what smells make you smile, and then keep them on hand. I like citrus smells. They invigorate me. I also like lilacs smells. Plus, when you smell something, you are likely to take a deep breath. Just breathing deep can boost your mood. So take a deep breath and enjoy yourself.

9. Do something creative.

Whatever it is. Paint. Sketch. Get out the guitar. Write a poem. Sew. Creativity sparks something in us. It makes life instantly better. Just strumming aimlessly on the guitar until something different comes out provides me with a great deal of satisfaction.

I also enjoy coloring. I didn’t like coloring when I was a kid, but the advent of the adult coloring trend made me a believer. Just a few minutes with some colored pencils and a flower mandalas book can improve my mood immensely.

Let those creative juices flow and your life will be better immediately.

10. Take a social media break.

A growing body of research indicates that spending a lot of time on Facebook can make us feel bad.

How much time are you on social media?

Because it’s not just Facebook. We compare ourselves to others on Instagram, SnapChat, Twitter, and just about anyplace else. Spending a lot of time on social media takes us away from what we have, and gets us focusing on what we don’t have, or what we think we should have.

I deleted the Facebook app from my phone about two months ago. I love it. Now, instead of checking Facebook when I feel the urge to be on my phone, I do a 10-minute language lesson with Duolingo.

Take a social media break and feel instantly better.

Small things make a big difference.

These things seem small. And they are. That’s the beauty of it. These little life hacks can make a big difference. Doing them will help you feel good right now.

But doing them on a regular basis will help you build habits that can improve your life substantially.

What do you think? Do you have any life hacks for feeling better right now? Share in our Facebook community!

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Stress is sucking you dry and ruining your relationships. Reclaim your quality of life.

It’s so easy to get stressed out.

I get stressed sometimes just thinking about raising my son, trying not to lose my job, or making sure I have the freelance clients I need to keep a roof over our heads.

Relationships tend to stress me out as well.

We could be stressed out all the time if we let ourselves feel that way. Stress ruins your life if you aren’t careful.

I’ve tried to reduce the stress in my life as a result of my concerns about what it could be doing to me.

How stress ruins your life.

You might be surprised at how stress ruins your life. Here are some of the ways stress impacts you:

Physical health.

First of all, stress can impact your physical health. According to the American Heart Association, stress can contribute to ulcers, irritable bowel syndrome, and high blood pressure.

Part of the reason that stress can affect your physical health has to do with the fact that you often engage in in unhealthy behaviors when you’re stressed out.

Think about what you do to alleviate stress. I eat junk food a lot when I’m stressed. You might turn to smoking, drinking, or emotional eating. If you keep up with these behaviors they can have a long-term impact on your health.

Plus, there are indications that stress can even slow your efforts to lose weight and get healthy.

When stress drives you to unhealthy diet habits, diabetes, cancer, and heart attack can all be part of the picture.

Mental health.

Another way stress ruins your life is through mental health issues.

Stress can actually change the way your brain circuitry works, leading to changes in your mental health.

Not only that, but stress can lead to anxiety and depression. It can also contribute to emotional outbursts and difficulty keeping a lid on your anger.

I know that when I’m stressed I’m more likely to be angry or to lose sight of what’s important. Ongoing stress can put pressure on you mentally and affect your mental health in the long run.

Relationships.

While you’re thinking about how stress ruins your life physically and mentally, don’t forget about how all of this can impact your relationships.

I have to try really hard not to let stress interfere with my relationship with my son a lot of the time. When I’m stressed, I’m more likely to have shorter patience for my son’s foibles. I might even be upset and unhappy in a way that has nothing to do with my son — but still impacts him because he’s in the house.

Other relationships can suffer when you feel a lot of stress in your life. How you treat your S.O. or your parents can be impacted by your stress response. If you are constantly

If you are constantly mean to the people in your life because of stress, eventually they will pull away. Your relationships will suffer. You can’t have a good quality of life with your social fabric falling to pieces.

Work performance.

How well do you do at work when you are stressed out? It’s not just about your relationships with your coworkers and boss — although that’s important. It’s also about your actual performance.

If your stress and anxiety keep you up at night, you won’t be effective at work. You’ll make poor decisions, and you probably won’t give your best.

You don’t want this stress weighing you down and ruining things at your job.

Stress and quality of life.

That’s what it comes down to: quality of life.

All of the areas that stress impacts relate to quality of life. Your relationships at work, your home life, your health, and your mental state are all impacted by stress.

In some cases, stress can be good for you. The right kind of stress in limited doses can help you strive for what’s next and get you out of your comfort zone.

However, when you have a lot of stress, and there’s a lot of negativity because of it, it can ruin your life.

Keep stress from ruining your life.

Stress ruins your life when it’s not under control, so the key is to manage it in a way that allows you to stay on top of your relationships and avoid the health problems that can come with chronic stress.

Here are some ideas for reducing stress and keeping it from ruining your life:

  • Practice gratitude: Believe it or not, gratitude can help you reduce your stress levels. Practicing thankfulness in your daily life can help you cope with problems and reduce the chances that these problems will stress you out long-term.
  • Meditate: You don’t even have to meditate for very long. I know meditation helps me reduce my own stress. Take five minutes to sit quietly in the morning and focus on the present. You can also use meditation at night to clear your mind and let go of the day.
  • Take a break: When I’m tackling a tough assignment or feeling writer’s block, I take a break. If you can’t achieve a breakthrough, you strart to become stressed. Then your performance suffers, and you feel even more stressed. It’s a vicious cycle. Break the cycle. Take a break, do something relaxing and enjoyable. You might actually get what you need that way.
  • Exercise: A brisk walk can reduce stress and clear your mind. When I’m especially stressed, I like to go downstairs and work with the punching bag. This helps me get out my aggression and relieves some of my pent up anxiety and anger.
  • Nature: Even pictures of nature can help you calm down. Our brains appreciate nature and respond positively. Keeping plants near your workspace or taking a look out your window into your backyard can lift your spirits and help you relieve stress.

In the end, you can’t completely rid yourself of stress. But stress doesn’t have to ruin your life. Look for ways to relax and rejuvenate. Take the time for yourself. When you do this, you will find yourself happier and healthier.

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Why is it so hard to do the right thing? We all get stuck wondering how we screwed up so bad. Break the cycle.

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Are you scared that you’ll make the wrong decisions and screw up your life?

You’re not alone. Many of us wish we could make better choices. But how do you go about making sure you will do the right thing? And how do you feel better about your decisions?

It’s important to figure out how to own your choices. Otherwise, you run the risk of never deciding anything — and never taking charge of your life.

Concepts

  • How do we make decisions?
  • The problems with human memory.
  • How decision fatigue affects your ability to make better choices.
  • The pros and cons of jumping to conclusions.
  • Why making a pros and cons list helps so little.
  • How to tell the difference between the little decisions and the really important stuff.
  • Tips for creating a process for making better choices.
  • How to pinpoint your own ethics and values.
  • Strategies for analyzing potential outcomes.
  • The importance of being realistic as you work toward better decision-making.

Use the DO NOWS from this week to help you test out the decision-making process. Write down a major decision and choose a technique that you can use to follow to its conclusion.

You can also test out how to make faster decisions, especially with small things that might not matter as much.

Don’t forget about the listener question. This week we look at what you can do if you are miserable in your current situation, but you aren’t sure how to move forward.

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Resources

Information overload and making decisions
Thinking, Fast and Slow
Blink

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Everyone is outraged over everything all the time. It’s so negative. Break the cycle in your life by ditching the 24-hour outrage news cycle.

Once upon a time, there was one hour of local news and one hour of national and international news and it was good.

Americans went about their lives with a focus on their family and local community. Twenty-four-hour news didn’t exist; 24-hour television barely existed, and it was good.

It wasn’t perfect. But it was good. You could reasonably expect to avoid negativity in the news.

Americans didn’t know everything that was going on in the world. They didn’t know everything that was going on in their country. Americans didn’t much mind, and the country and the world still worked.

Rise of the 24-hour news cycle.

Then. came cable television. Americans had more stations than three from which to choose. In 1980, a billionaire buffalo farmer launched a 24-hour news station. He reasoned that if people wanted to watch 24-hours of music television, they’d surely want 24-hours news. American’s could get national and international news from around the world almost in real-time.

Americans had more stations than three from which to choose. In 1980, a billionaire buffalo farmer launched a 24-hour news station. He reasoned that if people wanted to watch 24-hours of music television, they’d surely want 24 hours of news. Americans could get national and international news from around the world almost in real-time.

Americans could get national and international news from around the world almost in real-time.

It was innocent enough until everyone realized that finding 24 hours’ worth of news that people would actually watch was a lot of hours a day, every day, to fill.

In theory, Americans wanted to know about important current events on the other side of the globe. In reality, they don’t.

Then came competition. Now there were three 24-hour news stations. Then there were stations that covered individual segments of the news for 24 hours.

It wasn’t long before sensationalism was the 24-hour news channels’ business model.

If you couldn’t rely on politicians or celebrities to provide something sensational every day, create your own pseudo-celebrities to argue with guests, make outrageous comments, and call that news.

Trying to avoid negativity in the news became much harder.

Fast forward to a world in which Americans learn about policy decisions in 140 characters and it’s all be a bit much.

Everything is outrageous whether it’s outrageous or not. Everything is in real-time whether it deserves to be or not. Clicks are more important than truth and being first is more important accuracy.

How can you avoid negativity in the news? Here are five ideas:

Turn off the 24-hour news.

Go back to where it all began and end it. With Hulu, Amazon Prime, Netflix, and Sling, no one needs to pay for cable anyway. It’s too expensive. There’s too much of nothing to watch. And, it would be good if we all got off the couch more, The Walking Dead notwithstanding.

MTV doesn’t play videos and most 24-hour news channels don’t report the news.

If you want to avoid negativity in the news, stop getting caught up in the cycle.

Delete social media apps.

Social media was fun when it more about what people were eating, where they were partying, and where they vacationed.

Yes, it’s a free country and it’s our right to say what we think, but it’s also our right to not listen or read every opinion of every non-expert on everything that doesn’t really matter.

Until this last election cycle, I didn’t know how many of my 500 friends were political experts, legal experts, espionage experts, military experts, civil rights experts, and international relations experts.

We’re talking about people I watched do keg stands at frat parties, wear sexy nurse costumes at Halloween, and jump from job to job until they found one that didn’t require a drug test.

Some of my friends are pretty brilliant, but they don’t seem to be the ones filling my Facebook feed with every article or meme that “shuts down,” “slays,” and “buries” their opposition.

Seeing all their crappy news sources makes me want to avoid negativity in the news that much more.

Cancel your subscriptions.

In this age of technology, it doesn’t make sense to have traditional newspaper and magazine subscriptions.

As another way to keep negative news at bay, stop letting the negative news invade your home in video, audio, and print. With their shiny covers and eye-popping headlines, it’s hard to not want to open every issue and become equally outraged, but most of it doesn’t serve us.

Clean your favorites.

Admittedly, there was a time when the first thing I’d do in the morning was to click on each of my five “favorite” news sites. I use quotes because there were a couple of sites I completely disagreed with, but I felt it was important to have a holistic view of the news. I’ve since concluded that even this is not the best use of time.

I now give myself an hour to two a week to read The Week. The Week seems to try its best to report the news in, what one 24-hour news channel calls, a “fair and balanced” way. It’s not perfect, but most things aren’t.

But, for me, it’s one way to avoid negativity in the news while still being informed.

Get social.

Of course, you want to stay engaged and hold a conversation. So, disengage from the one-sided conversations, step outside the echo chamber and get social. Talk, debate, disagree, and change your opinion with face to face conversation.

We’re social creatures. We teach each other. We learn from each other. We tell great stories. Your friends whose opinions and experiences you respect likely have better opinions and more information about most news than a political pundit on television whose first responsibility is to sell advertisements. Their responsibility to the news is a distant second, at best.

Doing all of these at once may be hard or impossible. But it’s a good way to avoid negativity in the news and keep it from dragging you down.

If you disconnect even a little, though, you’ll be more connected to what matters.

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Broad perspectives enhance understanding of life. Live abroad at least once in your life and fine-tune your empathy.

When I was in high school I had a fascination with all things French.

I joined the French club. I learned to speak the language. I loved the show Les Misérables. There was something so romantic, so different about France, that I had to go there.

Sadly, I didn’t have any money.

Travel to another country.

It wouldn’t happen until several years later after college that I would travel overseas and live abroad.

It’s true that when I was a young girl I lived in Japan for two years. However, a small child doesn’t comprehend the experience of otherness that being in another country makes you feel. A small child doesn’t have the same response as an adult.

Being a young adult in a foreign country, a young American in a foreign country, was very exciting and humbling.

Living abroad is an experience that every young American should have because it helps develop an awareness of our place in the world.

Live abroad and see how the world sees us.

At the time that I write this post, we have just experienced a highly contentious Presidential election and a tough year. The U.S. has a new President and, as is the case with each new president, their vision of the world and the United State’s place in it will guide and shape their policy.

These new policies affect people. Young Americans, for the most part, live very wealthy lives compared to many people around the world. Our homes are bigger, we have electricity, and with the exception of Flint, Michigan, most of us have clean water.

We’ve experienced very little civil disruption, we have plenty of food, and most people have access to the internet.

It’s not like that everywhere.

We grow up with stories of how just and fair the U.S. is and when we step outside of our bubble we are presented with an alternative view of the history that we’ve been told our whole lives.

Leaving the U.S. to live abroad forces one to answer questions that we might not typically be asked.

We discover that some countries and citizens absolutely love the U.S. and other countries… not so much.

Travel puts us face-to-face with people who are affected by the decisions that our country makes (good or bad). When you’re faced with people who are affected by policies that we feel are in our best interest, we are compelled to defend or refute a policy with a depth of reflection that we may not normally tap into during our day to day lives in the U.S.

For many young travelers being presented with a negative or positive view of the U.S. may catch you off-guard. And you may find yourself wondering if everything that we’ve been told about our country is a lie.

Not necessarily, but how one group sees a geopolitical situation may be completely different from how another group perceives it.

When you live abroad, you see the way others see us. And that’s not a bad thing. We should have more understanding with other people from other countries.

Live abroad and become “the other.”

Living in a foreign country forces people into an experience of otherness. As a person of color, I’ve been the only black person in a class or a group (on many occasions). But there are many people who’ve never had the experience of being “the other.” It can be a shocking, disturbing and somewhat disorienting experience.

Young Americans need that experience so that they can develop empathy and develop a worldliness that can only be discovered through travel and a deeper curiosity about who and what is around us.

Young Americans need to travel abroad because not everything is about us. And to learn that life lesson, we have to venture beyond our borders. Those adventures foster a curiosity about the world that might fuel other adventures.

That curiosity about the world and willingness to explore it as a younger person will serve you well later in life if you go into international business or politics.

In recent election cycles, voters expressed concern about candidates lacking global awareness because they hadn’t traveled or lived abroad.  From a job perspective, international businesses look at global awareness through the lens of actual time spent living and exploring other places.

But, if developing a global awareness isn’t enough to entice you to live abroad, maybe the following reason will be enough: travel abroad because you can.

While you’re still single, have no kids, and basically have the least amount of responsibilities that you will ever have during your life. Of course, you can travel abroad at any age, but that first time when you have very little to lose and everything to gain, that first experience is everything.

For some people, that one experience will be enough. For others (like myself) that first trip will become addictive. And, each trip has grown my global awareness, my awareness of my role as an American citizen, and fed my lust for adventure.

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