Being homeless. For most of us the last thing we would want in our lives. Yet even this experience could teach us a crucial lesson and make our lives richer.
No, I won’t tell you now to leave your homes, get wild, and taste “the real nature of your life”. I believe sharing a story can have same value and impact, if it is taken seriously. I want to tell you a story about a man who chose this path and tried to be a homeless for half a year on Hawaii. He learnt a very important lesson. The lesson about how the attitude defines the experience.
Let’s be honest, Hawaii is not a bad place to be a homeless. Showers? Place to sleep? Not a problem, and people living there know it; public showers on a beach with a convenient weather around the year – why not? Sure. But you are still a homeless. You look like a homeless, and you act like a homeless. And that’s what matters in this text.
This man didn’t have much to do with his life that time, he didn’t have to care about bills, about his things, nor about his schedule, because he simply didn’t have one. Overall, he didn’t have to care basically about anything. And that’s what made him realize one extremely important thing about how and why we tend to waste our time.
What he realized (paradoxically through having nothing to do) was how poeple waste it by doing EMPTY ACTIONS with their minds being continuously somewhere else. Unfulfilling actions during the day followed by unrelated thoughts. We get busy in our lives; it makes us experience things on a shallow level, while we are continuously thinking how to strategize the next steps. We learn this thinking process so deeply that it becomes really hard to change it in moments when it is not only possible to fully be “here and now”, but it’s necessary for a better performance or regeneration. “People passing him with their judgemental looks was a good example”, he said.
What did they most likely think about him? Being probably offended, some of them perhaps disgusted by his presence while trying to enjoy the Hawaiian paradise. But how much did they actually know about him, a future and successful student of Hawaii Pacific University? Their thoughts were not about him, but about them. As all the thoughts we have. Those thoughts were about the people having them, because they let their thoughts wander and affect their mental states, while they could have fully enjoyed their walk without any disruption.
What we think of and where we put our attention really matters. Rather than considering the content, let’s focus on what kind of attitude we carry towards the content. Then we might realize that some thoughts can actually hurt us.
Attitude over experience means that when two people do the same, it’s actually never the same. When they see the same thing, they see it differently. Their perspective and attitude makes the difference. What makes sense to me, it does not have to make sense to you.
This man would not learn anything from being homeless, if he did not have the right attitude of openness to the experience and tendency to get something out of it (that was actually the reason why he decided to leave his home). People passing him would enjoy their walk probably more, if they carried an attitude allowing them to freely and fully focus on what they were just doing – walking along the Hawaiian beach.
That’s why your attitude matters most. Because, at the end of the day, it’s up t you whether to be that graduate student with a promising future carrying a life lesson learned from your experience, or a traveler missing the the purpose of our actions.