A Message from Eastern Europe: Wisdom in Ukrainian Tourism

Because I don’t speak Russian / Ukrainian perfectly, I sometimes get confused – people in Ukraine misunderstand me at times as I’m living in Ukraine right now. But I’ve learned a lot from being misunderstood. Please let me explain.

  • Never complain, never explain.

Sometimes explaining takes far more effort than it’s worth. When I am misunderstood by someone, I don’t explain further unless it’s absolutely necessary. This is a very important learning while living in Ukraine without speaking Ukrainian or Russian very well.

Before moving to Ukraine, I also ended relationships and friendships due to various reasons. A major reason is we didn’t understand each other anymore, not because we speak different languages, but because we fundamentally have different values. I feel compassion, of course. Yet I know that sometimes compassion must be detached from a distance, with trust that the other individual is on their journey and that we have both played the role we were meant to in each other’s lives, so as to facilitate the growth we are both now experiencing individually (not together). And that’s okay. Letting go isn’t the easiest thing in the world; however, sometimes it is totally necessary. Remaining silent isn’t easy either; nevertheless, sometimes it is also necessary.

  • Walk in the nature.

My life in Ukraine is best characterized by walking in the nature every morning. At last, I’m not living in a high-rise apartment building which is surrounded by other high-rise apartment buildings and tall office buildings in a crowded, big city. Now I’m living in Ukraine and the current house I live in is near a beautiful park. Hence, I am able to walk in the big park every single morning.

The nature continues to amaze me every single day in one way or another. Nature has so much to offer, to teach me, if I am open to the learning. To maintain real balance, I have to spend time in the nature regularly. This keeps my sanity as well.

How do I reconnect with natural happiness? Well, I choose to do so – it’s very simple. I make the choice one step at a time. In spite of the fact that life throws curve balls to me at times, what I choose to focus on is my right.

Yes, happiness is also a choice; happiness is my birthright; I’m entitled to happiness. In spite of whatever difficulty life throws my way, choosing to concentrate on something positive is a choice I am able to make. A bad day will pass. I can feel upset or angry, and then choose happiness again. I just find something that makes me smile, even if only for a moment. I know this takes practice, yet like anything, I improve gradually with practice.

In my opinion, life flows best when I am happy – that’s what I’ve learned during my trip to Ukraine. A happy person tends to create more good luck than people who focus on negative aspects of their lives. Many people are waiting for a new marriage, a new house or a new car to make them happy, but change actually arrives in the other order – happiness comes first, and then the rest will follow. Hence, no matter what situation you are in, the only way to make your circumstances change and improve is to put in the effort to be happier in general. Remember to smile at strangers, observe life, exercise, eat well, have enough sleep and find things to smile at. Your mindset, your headspace and your attitude will get better gradually.

Ginie Sayles once said, “Positivity attracts positivity. The happier you become, the happier you will become.” Thus, you should totally create your own life with joy, satisfaction and happiness.

  • Ukrainian tourism makes me look at life from a new and different perspective.

Ukrainian travel is great for changing perspective because this culture is so different from mainstream western culture that we are used to in our daily life. Having said that, it’s not always necessary to travel every year – sometimes in your daily life, the difference of a moment or the difference of a day can make all the difference.

If you are going through a time of challenge or a period of growth in disguise, you might finally feel a drop of hope in your heart again while traveling in Eastern Europe. The physical changes might seem slow, yet that one day or one moment, where the drop of hope returns, is when everything begins to change.

When you change your environment, sometimes the changes can be dramatic & you’re reminded of how fast life is able to change, just what a positive and important difference a day or a moment can make.

Living in Ukraine, I’ve experienced these special moments for many times, e.g. a rainy night in the summer, an interesting conversation with a new friend, a silver necklace that I found in the flea market, etc. Times like this happen to everyone. It truly saves lots of time and energy in trying to always work things out. By traveling to Ukraine, you simply wake up as a new person, someone with a happier mind and a bounce in your step again.

Sleep is a spiritual practice which can offer us rejuvenation, change and renewal. This moment contains all moments.

Dropping the ego and accepting that everyone makes mistakes is a true blessing. Who was right or wrong is not very important if you know what I mean.

My neighbor’s daughter is 4 years old. She stays fully present and allows goodness to flow her way. I am always amazed by the trust she has in each day. That was once my natural state as well, long before the ego and the mind developed false fears which got in my way.

During my trip to Ukraine, I’ve tried reading, writing, comedy, music, sculpting, cooking and drawing. Although what I’ve done won’t appear in a gallery or Hollywood, I’ve thoroughly enjoyed this process. Sometimes the most therapeutic activity is simply lying in bed and daydreaming on a rainy and windy afternoon – it is said that the human brain can’t tell the difference between what’s real and what’s imagined, so daydreaming is a very healthy activity – by imagining some beautiful experiences in my brain, I’m feeding my brain positive energy, thereby becoming a happier person! And this activity is totally free.

Bronnie Ware famously said, “Truthfully, you’re wasting your time by doing too much. It’s absolutely necessary to pause and have a good rest.” Indeed, we should take action when it’s time to take action and rest when it’s time to rest. Balance and happiness can be achieved in this way.

In this day and age, it takes courage to let things go and not everyone has the bravery to allow themselves time to play or do nothing without any guilt. While living in Ukraine, I’ve cultivated a new hobby – I sometimes do nothing, and then rest afterward!

“Doing nothing energizes me, so it’s also a very productive activity in my life these days.”