Have you ever been on the same vacation with someone, and their pictures just seem to look better than yours, almost as if you have been on a different trip? The thing is, some people are just great at looking at vistas and sites, and seeing the angle by which to bring out the most beauty and intrigue.
In the same way that people can look through a lens one way and capture one thing, people can look at life in general through different lenses and achieve a completely different outcome, expectation, and reality.
If you are visiting a country and you have several preconceived notions about it, then this becomes your lens through which you view all occurrences within the country.
Everyone has a very specific view of what the destination is all about, sometimes it takes several days for their lens to change. When we look at a country under a specific lens, the things that we see within that lens get reinforced, and it creates a kind of self-fulfilling prophecy in our minds.
If someone looks at a country as downtrodden or corrupt, and let’s say something happens like a road closure or something similar, one then has the propensity to think, “well, this happened because that country is messed up.” A lens that I see people use all the time is the lens of “Third World”, and then some have a tendency to cast their eyes down on the country for anything that happens. What I find ironic is I live in the United States, and there are so many things that go on in our country that seem as “third worldy” as anywhere. For instance, the January 6, 2021 uprising on the Capitol didn’t exactly seem emblematic of what would happen in the country that people associate with being the leader of democracy. Things like this happen globally, no matter how “evolved” the country is perceived to be.
I was just leading our Zoom Vacations tour to Peru, and overnight there was a rock slide that destroyed about 300 feet of train railway, the same rail that we would be traveling on the next day to take us back to Cusco. They mobilized immediately, and worked on the rail all night and all next day, and I couldn’t believe it that our train left only 45 minutes after it scheduled departure time the next day, delivering us safely to Cusco. I kept thinking, if this happened in the great USA would we be able to mobilize this fast? How much red tape would have to be sorted through in order to correct this problem so quickly?
Our lens is our perception, and sometimes our perceptions can lead us to behave in ways that can actually dampen experience for us and/or others.
Everyone approaches life, and certainly their vacations, with their own individual perception, their own lens. And our perceptions are largely developed by our individual histories. There are people who approach anyone and everyone with a cynical view that they are going to be taken advantage of, or ripped off. This “victim” mentality can cause them to challenge those around them to shine as opposed to encouraging them to shine. And for those on the other end, the feeling is quite different. If you view a hotel concierge with the lens that they are capable, then you also empower and encourage them to provide great service, and they can feel it.
If you live your life considering yourself as a victim to circumstances and as a victim to other people in general, the one thing that victims always need is a villain, and they will search outside of themselves to find someone or some thing to take on this role. In Nazi Germany, it was the Jews. In Rwanda, he became the Tutsi. In Cambodia during the Khmer Rouge, the “villains” were Cambodia’s previous military and political leadership, business leaders, journalists, students, doctors, lawyers, etc. As is often the case, none of these “villains” were villains. And, as is often the case, those with a victim mindset are clueless to how they are themselves emotionally or physically harming others.
Second runner-up to the victim lens is the entitlement lens. This is a tricky one, because I believe that everyone deserves everything they want in life. It is when we feel we deserve more than others because of whatever reason, or when we don’t take into consideration everything that is happening around us, or who else may be impacted, that it becomes a negative entitlement. For instance, we’ve all seen the videos of awful people on planes refusing to wear masks and making the lives of flight attendants and others absolutely miserable.
When the rockslide washed out the rail tracks on my recent tour to Peru, I was really thankful that my travelers knew I was doing everything possible to keep them updated and comfortable, and that my team and I were developing a plan B and C. Several told me how much they appreciated knowing that I was handling things so that they could continue to have a carefree experience at Machu Picchu. The situation would have been so much more stressful for me personally if may travelers were not as trusting. This wasn’t the case, and all were very go-with-the-flow and flexible.
In the same way that certain lenses become a challenge, there are so many lenses that I see people using to approach life that really make things better for them as well as those around them.
Probably the best lens through which to view life and certainly our vacations is the lens of appreciation. In Peru, because my travelers were looking at life through the lens of appreciation, it allowed them to have a more stress-free, nice experience, and it also helped me feel empowered and relaxed to find the best solutions.
Other great lenses through which to look at life and our vacations include:
The lens of “Those around me are doing their best”
The lens of “Everything will work out for me”
The lens of “There are always opportunities in challenges”
The lens of “How can this help me grow”
The lens of “I am safe”
The lens of “How can I be most loving”
The lens of “How can I help”
The lens of “How can I be most understanding”
The lens of “It is safe to express my needs”
The lens of “Acceptance”, which applies to people as well as situations.
Now don’t get me wrong, I don’t always look at life and my travels through these lenses, but I am definitely getting better, and the key is to be intentional about it. Before you go through any segment of your life or your vacation, no matter what it is, try to take a moment and be intentional about the kind of lens through which you wish to view the experience. Your fastest portal to getting to a better place no matter where you are is through the lens of appreciation, and there is always something to appreciate.