How to Add Purpose to Your Next Trip
True or False? We all have the ability to make the world a better place each and every day.
If your answer is “true,” you and Rabbi Tuvia Teldon share a common thread. He was born into a family that loved to travel. As a result, he caught the bug at a very young age. But traveling is more than the opportunity to have fun. In his guest post, “Your Purpose-Oriented Adventure,” Rabbi Teldon explains how even the most ordinary actions can make the world a better place by fulfilling our unique purpose in life. He is executive director of 34 Chabad centers on Long Island, NY where he is intent on improving the world by focusing on the most ordinary actions. Even our small or mundane intentions can collectively make a big difference over time.
Your Purpose-Oriented Adventure
By Rabbi Tuvia Teldon, author of Eight Paths of Purpose
By the time I was 20, I had traveled to 25 countries and 30 states. But when I reviewed what I got out of my journeys, all I could say was that it was fun and educational. I felt like it was great for my eyes and my brain, but didn’t feel like I had really accomplished anything for my heart or soul.
Now, many years later, I feel that life’s many varied adventures, whether close to home or far away, should accomplish some purpose. But how does one combine travel and purpose? Most people take lots of photos and observe their surroundings, interact to some degree, but don’t really look at themselves as fulfilling any purpose when they travel.
Sure, there are many travel opportunities to visit distant villages in Africa to help them access water, or build a house for a homeless family in India. But that is a little too much ‘purpose’ for my taste. I still want to have fun when I travel.
So, I thought, how about if we turn our adventure into a ‘purpose’ adventure. What would that look like? Let’s start by asking ourselves a question: How many times a week, in our ongoing activities, do we see situations that call our name? We are in the right place at the right time to help someone, reach out to a child, help an elderly person across the street or pay forward for someone to get a free toll. Unfortunately, many in our society feel very uncomfortable doing any of these kinds of gestures. It’s corny, politically incorrect, unappreciated, or any of a number of adjectives that we can use as excuses.
What if we got rid of all of those inhibitions while we travel, and we just put our better side forward without the normal obstacles that stand in our way? What if we gave an American dollar to every beggar we passed, or started up a conversation with a local who is standing next to the fountain in Centro? What if we asked a small child what gift they would like and then bought it for them, or paid a restaurant bill for a young couple on the next table?
In other words, what if we really left our imprint, in some small or large way, on the places we go to tour. Instead of seeing their lives through the eyes of our cell phone, try interacting with the locals. And I don’t mean to just converse and exchange cultural niceties, but to really do something that will leave an impression on them, maybe even change their life. It may mean having to go out of our way to do something meaningful, but I have a feeling that will be the one activity you will best remember after the trip is long over.
Who knows, perhaps once you live a day, or a week, without those inhibitions, you will come home and realize that you like the person you were there more than the person you are at home. It could become contagious. That is because we all inherently want to connect to a sense of purpose. In my book, Eight Paths of Purpose, I explain how living a life of purpose, even in the small matters of life, gives us such a sense of inner happiness. Perhaps your travels could be the entry point for you to discover your purpose as well.
Do you find music calms your anxiety? Listen to a Mozart Aria performed by an international opera singer, Heather Schmid.
Use meditation as a means to get in touch with your purpose.