“Don’t be too hard on yourself,” says my best friend Alex, “You have very high expectations and you expect yourself to be perfect often. Just be kind to yourself, okay?”

I remember Alex’s words so vividly.

But hearing something is one thing; truly understanding it is another. I didn’t fully understand what Alex means until I had a European trip last year.

  • I learned the importance of focusing on my strengths.

I’m a naturally quiet person, and I thought that’s my weakness. But when I went to Europe, I realized that I’m a pensive and thoughtful person – that’s actually a strength! I was told that I’m a pushy person, but in Europe, I was told that I’m very organized and ambitious – that’s the same quality, but it was expressed differently this time.

Switching up my perspective is so helpful – I can quit criticizing what I am not and begin seeing what I am. This is so empowering.

This European trip pressed pause for me, helped me to breathe slowly in though my nose and out through my mouth & gave me clarity and mindfulness. Travel really levels out my stress hormone (cortisol) and increases happy chemicals like dopamine and serotonin.

I am the sum of the 10 most present people in my life. That’s why I assess whom I share my precious time, energy and thoughts. Although I can’t pick my boss, I can pick my friends, personal trainer and assistant. During my European trip, I surrounded myself with inspiring and kind people who bestow happiness and confidence. I’m so grateful.

When I was in Denmark, I met a meditation teacher who buys herself a beautiful bunch of flowers regularly. She arranges her flowers in an elegant vase in her bedroom.

“There is something absolutely luxurious about buying myself flowers, for no other reason than just to treat myself,” says this meditation teacher in Denmark, “I like waking up and seeing my favorite flowers every morning. It’s well-known that blooms and plants lift the spirits. So, why not try this if you are into it, too?”

Talking about lifting my spirits, I learned that I must pick my colors very carefully. Psychologists contend that yellow is the happiest color because it stimulates mental processes, encourages positive communication and is the symbol for liberalism in many cultures.

In my opinion, the most calming color is pink. That’s why the wallpaper on my laptop is always pink!

By the way, green is proven to help people feel restored and refreshed, so it’s a very beneficial color, too.

  • During this European trip, I also learned how to practice forgiveness.

Because I am very sensitive and I get wound up easily, these 2 personality traits make me susceptible to getting upset frequently. I find it hard to ignore or rise above any confrontation or drama that unfolds in my life.

But now I know that I should see the best in everyone and drop my ego. When I inwardly forgive people who act like idiots, I feel calmer and at peace with myself. Indeed, letting go of things that can irritate me is so empowering.

The meditation teacher that I met during this European trip told me that I should let go of the quest for non-stop self-improvement and just give myself a break. Sometimes it’s perfectly okay to ignore that nagging voice in my head that says I should go to the gym, I shouldn’t eat the cake, I should have finished that project at work by now…. I tend to overload and pressure myself. So, I should just stop once in a while. Treat myself by having another European trip next year. Do whatever makes me feel genuinely happy. If that means skipping the treadmill, eating chocolate, drinking more wine at the dinner party or staying in bed watching movies all day on Saturday, so be it.

That being said, I should never stop learning. As I see it, the mind isn’t a vessel to be filled, but a fire to be kindled. I often invest in the things that can help me grow to be the best version of myself. For example, I always attend business conferences to improve my career because professional development is so important to me!

  • This European trip enriched my mind.

I went to Europe alone. It was a bold move. But I believe that whatever I can do or dream I can do, I should totally begin it, for boldness has power, magic and genius in it.

Even Marilyn Monroe once said, “Have you ever noticed that ‘what the hell’ is usually the right decision?” That’s so funny and so true!

This European trip also taught me that laughing is the best calorie-burner. I went to a comedy show every weekend when I was in Europe and I met many interesting people in the theater.

I bought a notebook in Europe. On the cover of this notebook, there is a quote from Oscar Wilde: “We’re all in the gutter, but some of us are looking at the stars.” This is so inspiring. I remember when I was young, I lived in a small town and was surrounded by people who didn’t support me. At that time, I already wanted to leave my hometown and create a new life that I absolutely want. Although my current lifestyle isn’t perfect, it’s definitely pretty much what I designed! So, I’m very proud of what I’ve achieved so far in my life. Just like Charles Schwab said, “People can succeed at almost anything for which they have unlimited passion and enthusiasm”, I think passion is underrated in our society.

Another interesting finding from my European trip is that European people dress very well. Mark Twain famously said, “Clothes make the man. Naked people have little or no influence on the society.” I couldn’t agree more because I think when I dress shabbily, people remember the outfit; when I dress impeccably, people remember me.

When you travel the world, you collect a lot of happy moments. It’s very important to cherish all your happy moments because they make a beautiful cushion for old age. Your dreams nourish your soul, just like food nourishes your body. The pleasure of the search and of adventure feed your dreams. Love the journey!

I hope the anecdotes and tips in this article have inspired or amused you to some degree. If there is one thing that I would like you to walk away with, it’s a newfound internal confidence in yourself. Ask yourself, “How often do you put yourself first? Approve of yourself? Inwardly congratulate yourself? Love yourself?”

When you are multi-tasking, you are pulled in too many different directions. Why not give yourself more kindness, compassion, warmth and peace?

“The healthiest escapism is a European trip because it is relaxing and stimulating at the same time – you get all the benefits of the escapism while enriching your mind, boosting your energy and feeding your soul.”