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POSITIVE, WISE & LOVING LIFE

If you love travelling, but you love the planet more: how to do it sustainably

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It’s a dilemma for travellers with a green heart: you want to see the world, yet you know travelling isn’t pleasant for our planet. Especially if you travel by plane. 

Two weeks to Bali by plane, means a CO2 emission of about 4.000 kilos. And mass tourism also causes pollution of the oceans, animals in tourist places are often badly treated and from all the money we spend on holidays, only a small amount reaches the locals. 

What to do: stay at home? That’s an options – there’s a lot to discover in your own country – but of course, the rest of the world tempts us. With good preparation and a little extra research, you can make your holiday more sustainable. 

Choose your transportation wisely

Use the most sustainable means of transport, both to your destination and at your destination. For your next city trip or sunny holiday, go by train. That’s actually a very pleasant way to travel: you don’t have to check in and board, there’s more space, and you actually see the landscape change around you. 

Prefer a road trip? If you can, use the car to the fullest. Perhaps you can spend the holidays with friends or family. That way, you decrease the pollution per person. When you’re at your destination, walk or bike as much as you can. If the distance is too big, use public transportation – just like the locals!

Really have to fly? Compensate your CO2-emission 

Sometimes, you can’t reach your destination without flying. After all, taking the bus to South-Africa or the train to Thailand is a bit difficult. Choose the most sustainable airline: the one that makes an extra effort to be nice to the environment – even if it’s a bit more expensive. At your order, you can tick the box for extra co2 compensation – the costs depend on the length of your flight. Airlines use this money for investments in CO2 reductions. 

A more fun way to compensate CO2 emissions is planting trees. Trees, especially the growing ones, transform co2 into oxygen. Join in tree planting projects or donate to a forest project in the country you’re visiting. 

Sleep green 

Forget about big hotel deals and book your nights at small eco accommodations. It takes some time to find the best places, but once you’ve arrived, you’ll thank yourself. The owners are so proud of their place, they love to spoil you, and there places are often lovely. You could wake up in a tiny house, a tree house or a bedouine tent in the middle of nowhere. Not bad, right? 

Make sure your money ends up with the locals 

Booking at small accomodations means part of your holiday budget will contribute to the local economy. With everything you purchase, ask yourself: can we do this locally? Don’t plan excursions with big organisations, but with local initiatives. Eat at local lunch joints and restaurants, in stead of big chains. Buying souvenirs for friends or family? Get them at small stores, run by local entrepreneurs. At many destinations you’ll find souvenirs made by people in community projects. They’re often handmade, and always more authentic than your dime a dozen keepsakes bought at the airport. The profit that’s made, goes straight back to the community. Which makes both you and the store owner happy. 

Treat nature kindly

A nice mantra when going on a holiday is: take only pictures, leave only footprints. Nature is vulnerable, and nothing is as sad as garbage in a national park or a wild animal used for human entertainment. Prevent yourself from polluting the environment unnecessarily – use reusable water bottles, refrain from using plastic straws and throw any garbage in the bin. If you want to do more than just reduce your own waste, think about doing a couple of hours –or days- of voluntary work at your holiday destination. Help cleaning the beach, for instance. 

Watch wild animals in their natural habitat. If you want to go on a safari, see whales or make any other animal excursion, look for sustainable, animal and environmental friendly companies and use your common sense. Don’t buy products made of animals or protected plants. Coral is beautiful, but appreciate it where it grows – if its part of a jewel or a mantelpiece, it’ll lose its lustre.  

Text: Sanne Eva Dijkstra - Photo: Ivana Cajina

This is the best way to help a friend who's feeling depressed (hint: don't try to be Dr Phil)

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If someone close to you is feeling depressed, what is the best thing you can do? Are you able to help them? Or should you just leave them be? 

Comedian and expert Bill Bernat has a clear answer to the latter of these questions: no! For people who are depressed, social interaction with friends and family can be a complicated thing – but that doesn’t mean they don’t want it. On the contrary: people who suffer from depression really need to be in touch with other people. 

This is how you treat a person who is feeling depressed 

If your friend, sister or colleague is feeling depressed, you probably want to say or do something to help them, you just don’t know how. Bill Bernat is bipolar and knows from his own experience that many people don't know how to handle that. In his TEDtalk, he lists a couple of useful tips and tricks. 

You don’t have to be Dr Phil 

Of course you want to help them, but you don’t have to. If you do your best to offer a solution to your friend or family member’s problem, you might (unwantingly!) be pressuring them: they feel like it’s time they start feeling better now. By the way, it isn’t so much about what you say, according to Bernat. It’s about simply being there for them. 

Don’t worry, it’s not contagious

It might sound silly, but some people are afraid depression is contagious. They think they will get depressed if they hang around with a depressed person. It doesn’t work that way. Besides, apart from really heavy depression, we shouldn’t panic when someone is feeling sad or morose sometimes – it’s part of life. 

Don’t take ‘no’ personally

Even if you’re not trying to be Dr Phil, you probably give them some advice sometimes. Because you remember what was helpful to you when you were feeling bad. If your friend rejects your advice, don’t take it personally. We’re all different: the things that make you feel better, don’t necessarily help others, and vice versa. 

Jokes are OK

Bernat stresses the importance of being yourself. Just because your friend is feeling horrible, doesn’t mean you have to speak in a grave, worrisome voice and talk about serious stuff all the time. Being cheerful is fine. 

Go out together 

Spending time with a depressed person doesn’t have to mean sitting on the couch talking about Life. If it’s possible (which isn’t always the case, because depression can be paralyzing), go out and do things together. Let them be a part of your life, take up a chore together, go see a movie. 

Text: Dorien Vrieling - Photo: Christopher Campbell

Gratitude as a life style: this is how being thankful improves your life

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Gratitude, it seems so easy. ‘I’m thankful for… [fill in the blank].’ But you can take it a step further and make gratitude into a lifestyle. 

In their Dutch book ‘De kracht van dankbaarheid’ (The power of gratitude),  Ernst Bohlmeijer and Monique Hulsbergen distinguish eight aspects of gratitude. They all stem from the notion that anything you pay attention to, will grow. 

1. Gratitude as a personal feature 

Some people start the day feeling grateful and go to bed feeling the same way, without really making an effort for it. For others, it’s more complicated. Gratitude can be a personal feature, but it’s one you can train, by focusing on the good and pleasant things in life. 

2. Being happy with what you’ve got 

Clean water to drink, electricity, a roof over your head – the things we tend to take for granted, until we’ve made a trip to a different part of the world and had to do without it for a while. But you can also be happy with your friends and family. 

3. Room for awe and wonder 

A rainbow, a beautiful landscape, trees, the sea, the sky full of stars – all those times you look around you and say ‘wow’, are moments of gratitude. 

4. Being content with your life right now

Try to be aware of the experiences you’re having now, in this time of your life. A meal, sunset, a movie. Or simply being satisfied with life in general. 

5. Appreciating others 

Having friends and family is something to be grateful for. But what about ‘random’ people who do something nice for you, like the bus driver waiting when you arrive at the station late at night. 

6. Showing your gratitude

‘Feeling grateful without showing it, is like receiving a gift without unpacking it.’ By showing you’re grateful (telling a person, writing them a note), you make someone happy, and it increases your gratitude. 

7. Gratitude coming from the notion of transience 

Life is short and everything passes – realizing this, can give you an extra push to be grateful for everything that’s there in your life right now. 

8. Positive comparisons 

If you tend to look at people who have more than you do, you’ll be dissatisfied. Why not look the other way: at people who have less than you do? The comparison will give you peace of mind. 

And what does gratitude bring? 

Good question. Gratitude doesn’t pay the bills, nor does it cure a broken leg. But it helps you to live your life in a calm way, to enjoy it to the fullest and give relationships more meaning. It’s an ‘inner source that can help us and inspire us to blossom.’ 

By the way, a lot of scientific research is being done into the effects of gratitude. There are clear signs of gratitude being a medicine for worrying and anxiety, and it is even said to be good for your health. Gratitude is good for your heart, in all kinds of ways.

The best part? Gratitude doesn’t end. On the contrary, Bohlmeijer and Hulsbergen say: ‘By practicing gratitude, we’re drilling a well in a source that’s potentially endless in the world: love, simple happiness, the air, the seasons, playing, creativity, hospitality. And the miraculous thing is that anything we’re tapping into with gratitude, will multiply quickly.’ 

Magnifying glass 

For me, the best and clearest comparison was this one: gratitude is like a magnifying glass for the beautiful and pleasant things in life. Practicing gratitude doesn’t mean you’re denying the negative things, but it means you’re happy with the good things – and you’re aware of the things that seem natural, but aren’t. 

Text: Anne Wesseling - Diane Simumpande

Write your partner a thank you note - and other ways to feel butterflies again

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No matter how much you love each other, for most couples the ecstatic feeling of being in love slowly disappears after a few years. But that doesn’t mean you can’t feel sparks anymore. This is how you make the butterflies return. 

You don’t have to put a banner with a declaration of love behind a plane, tattoo your lover’s name on your body or fill the living room with thousands of candles to give romance a little push. These suggestions will do the trick too. 

1. Write a thank you note

We tend to take it for granted when our partner does something for us. That’s a real shame, because recent research from the University of Texas and the University of Chicago shows that a thank you note now and then has a very positive effect on the receiver. You bet they will appreciate it when you write them a thank you note – thanking them for the great food, the beautiful flowers or, even better, just for being there. 

Make it more special and send them a postcard, put your note in the pocket of their coat or lunch box. Showing your gratitude often doesn’t just make your partner feel better about your relationship, it also has a positive effect on you. Win-win, right?

2. Plan a date

Make something special out of date night. Don’t just mark it in your diary, but organize all of it, and keep it a secret to them. It makes you feel excited, because you’re curious what they’ll think – and it makes them excited, because they don’t know what the day or night will bring. 

3. Try something new

Going to the movies, having dinner at your favorite restaurant or doing a Netflix marathon is fun and good for your relationship. But exciting? Not really. Suggest to try something both of you haven’t done yet. If you guys have been talking about kite surfing, salsa dancing or sky diving, now is the time to do it. 

4. Touch them more often

Touching sends a signal to the brain that stimulates feelings of love. It has to do with a hormone: oxytocin. An intense cuddle of about 20 seconds creates a big dose of oxytocin. If you give your loved one a sincere cuddle a few times a day, it will make the two of you more connected in the long run.   

5. Flirt through text messages

Spending all the time you share on your phone, doesn’t have a great effect on your relationship. But why not use technology to your advantage? A sweet or naughty message can make a boring day into a special one. 

6. Make an effort with your looks

Of course, after a long day at work, track pants or yoga leggings are tempting. But did you even think about wearing that when you guys just met? Of course, love isn’t all about looks, but making an effort to look attractive every once in a while is a good idea. On an average Monday or Wednesday, put on your best clothes, wear some make up, do your hair, spray your favorite perfume and appear at the dinner table. Surprise!

7. Create little rituals

In the morning, turn on the coffee machine when your love is in the shower, make them their favorite breakfast on a Sunday: repeating certain little gestures makes them into rituals. Everytime you repeat it, you show you still love them as much as you ever did. 

Being in the here and now

It’s not a gesture, but a change of behavior. And it’s probably more of an effort than writing a thank you note or putting on your best dress. But it’s worth it, because living in the here and now can give your relationship a real boost. If you put the past and the future aside, you see your partner exactly the way they are right now and your perspective isn’t blurred by memories. Just like when you just met. Hello, butterflies! 

Text: Sanne Eva Dijkstra - Photo: Sweet Ice Cream Photography

 

Make yourself the highest priority: this is how you build self esteem

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According to psychologist Nathaniel Branden, the way you judge yourself is far more important than what others think of you. And your opinion of yourself becomes more loving if you live by your own principles.

Why do we feel like we’re not good, beautiful or smart enough sometimes? According to Nathaniel Branden, we are often insecure because we keep trying to meet other people’s expectations and conditions. That’s impossible and, more importantly, bad for our self image.

We all long for acceptation and love, and none of us are free from insecurities. That’s fine, as long as they don’t overshadow our wellbeing. But when, in the search for appraisal, you let your own values and wishes be obscured, your self esteem slowly crumble apart. Don’t worry: this doesn’t happen overnight. It’s the result of all the sacrifices we make, big and small. If you become aware of this, you can enforce your own values, and you won’t have to lean on others so much to feel good about yourself.

These four tips help you build a stronger self image
 

1.     TRY TO LOOK AT YOUR INSECURITIES IN A RATIONAL WAY

This doesn’t mean you have to live your life as an emotionless robot. It means you should see your emotions in a bigger perspective. Just because you feel them, doesn’t mean they are true.

2.     BUT TAKE YOUR EMOTIONS SERIOUSLY TOO

If we’re insecure or frightened, this is a clear signal: our awareness needs more attention and love. Perhaps it’s time to have a critical look at your values. Or perhaps it’s even time to develop new ones.

3.     PRACTICE  SELF CONSCIENCE

Self love is a universal need, one you can’t satisfy with superficial means – it grows from the inside. See your self confidence as a muscle that will grow more powerful when you take a decision that fits your life philosophy. If you make choices because you support them (and not because someone else expects this from you), you’ll become stronger every day.

4.     PROTECT WHAT’S VALUABLE TO YOU

We see happiness as an emotion, but according to Branden, we have more control over it than we think. Try to live each day from your authentic self – with your own principles and values as signposts, because they will lead your way to happiness. If you protect this authenticity, you will learn to love yourself.  

5.     THE END OF ‘I HAVE TO’

Are you a pleaser? It helps to realize that there is actually nothing you have to do. The more you have to do in life (because it’s appropriate, because someone’s counting on you), the more you’ll have to justify your own actions to yourself. You forget what you need, you minimize yourself and your importance. But it’s only when you make yourself into a priority, that you can love yourself.

You and your sister: why she's both your biggest supporter and rival

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What makes the connection between sisters so special? Deborah Tannen, linguistics professor, was fascinated by the conversations she had with her sisters. She interviewed more than a hundred women about their relationship with their sisters. Her conclusion: this relationship is both very strong and complicated.

Why Deborah Tannen chose to research sisters – not siblings in general? Because it didn’t take her long to find out that sisters have different conversations. They talk more, and on a more personal level, than they do with their brothers. 

Intense relationship

The relationship of sisters is quite like a marriage, Tannen concludes. A woman told Tannen: ‘My sister and I, we work on our relationship, just like people work on their marriage.’ Sisters have a strong connection, they are each others biggest supporters, but they can also disappoint and hurt each other deeply. In a sense, sisterhood is an even stronger connection than a love relationship: married people can separate, but you can’t divorce your sister. You will share the same youth (even if you experienced it differently), the same parents, forever. 

Rivalry 

Even the closest of sisters have an element of rivalry in their relationship. From the day you were born, you guys competed for your parents’ love. Which one of you is closest to mom and dad? Who got more attention, who got more stuff (toys, presents, etcetera)? Who had the most freedom to do what they wanted (often the youngest one)? 

Rivalry can resurface after years and years, when one of the parents passes away – because of the inheritance. It may sound superficial or childish, but, as Tannen puts it: ‘A friend of mine, who’s a brother, said: “It’s your last chance to collect your parents’ love.”’ An inheritance may cause trouble, but not necessarily, if you to understand each other. Tannen: ‘Rivalry between sisters doesn’t undermine the connection. It arises from it and contributes to it.’ 

Unsteady relationship 

Are there times when you see a lot of your sister, and times when you don’t see her at all? That’s a common thing, according to Tannen. Many women she interviewed, told her how close they were at one point, and then didn’t talk to them for a whole year. This unsteadiness is typical for many sisters’ relationships. We feel strongly connected, yet sometimes the relationship agitates us and makes us long for some air – so we distance ourselves for a while. 

Mirror  

Sisters compare themselves to one another endlessly, in order to decide their position towards each other (and their place in the family). Many women either see their sister as their spitting image, or as the exact opposite. Even if there are several sisters, the difference among them are enlarged – and exaggerated. Or there are several ‘groups’: sister 1 and 2 are said to be introverts, sister 3 and 4 said to be extroverts. This is while, Tannen says, the outside world often sees lots of similarities among all four. 

You Were Always Mom’s Favorite! Sisters In Conversation Throughout Their Lives. Deborah Tannen, Random House. 

Text: Dorien Vrieling - Photo: Daiga Ellaby

 

Having trouble making decisions? This is how you make it easier

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There's a choice you have to make: for a house, a new job, or perhaps a partner. You just can’t decide, because you keep thinking: what if I come across a better option tomorrow? This phenomenon has a name: FOBO, fear of better options. It causes restlessness – but the good news is: you can make it stop. 

It’s a bit like you’re in an old fashioned TV quiz, standing before a conveyor belt. On the belt, several beautiful prizes pass by, but you only see each of them once: as soon as you’ve picked a prize, you can’t change your mind. When do you take your pick? Do you choose the washing machine, or do you wait for the wash-and-dry combination? 

FOBO comes from the desire to make the perfect choice (and the fear of making the wrong one and regretting it). It’s a logical aim, but indecisiveness causes a feeling of restlessness – or paralysis. You’d wish you could finally get it over with and take a decision. But how to do that?

Focus on your feelings

If you’re the kind of person who just keeps making lists of pros and cons, try to focus more on what you feel. After all, choices aren’t all about science, you can’t calculate every little thing. The choice that will make you the happiest, is an emotional one for the biggest part. Did you know, by the way, that your dreams can also help you to make choices? 

Think of your best choices

Which choices of your life made you really happy? They can be big or little ones (for instance, those earrings you bought because you were really in love with them, even though they were too expensive). Were they rational choices, or impulsive ones? Did you think long and hard, or did you simply decide? Analyzing your choices will help you to find out what’s the best way for you to make a choice. 

Pick a good choice - not a 'perfect' one

Perfection doesn’t exist. And the more you focus on it, the harder it is to know how you actually feel about a choice. Try to focus on options that are ‘just fine’. Even if another option emerges later on, you know that your choice was a good one too – based on the information you had at the time. 

Let the universe decide

If you just keep thinking about two options, let the universe decide. Throw a coin, or learn from the person who made up the word FOBO: name the one half of the clock ‘option A’ and the other half ‘option B’, then look at the clock (or your watch) and see: what’s the current location of the big arrow of the clock? That location tells you what your choice should be. (There’s a chance you don’t like this outcome. Then there’s your answer: you should pick the other option). 

Welcome ‘mistakes’ 

Avoiding mistakes is impossible, and worthless: after all, you learn the most from your mistakes. So welcome failure, because it helps you to get to know yourself. Next time, it’ll be easier to know what the best choice is.   

Photo: Chungkuk Bae

 

How do you know you're ready for a new relationship? Four significant signs

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After a breakup, some people don’t need more than a couple of weeks to get ready for love. Others don’t feel like it at all for at least a year. But, if there’s no time schedule, how do you know you’re ready? 

Perhaps you’ve had an experience like this: your relationship had been over for a while now, and people were starting to ask ‘isn’t it time?’ Why not, you thought. You hooked up with someone a couple of times, it was nice, but after a few dates you knew: I’m just not ready yet, I’m still thinking about my ex. It was too early for you. 

You’re not looking for someone to fill a void 

Of course, it’s perfectly normal to miss having someone around to share your life with. But if you’re looking for a relationship because your life feels ‘empty’, you’re focusing too much on love. No matter how beautiful a relationship can be, a relationship can never bring fulfillment. It’s a valuable extra. 

You know what you’re looking for 

There’s nothing wrong with dating shortly after you broke up, but quickly getting in a new relationship can be too much. Especially if you don’t really know what you’re looking for. Is it someone who’s calm and thoughtful, or a lively person? Do you want to live together, do you want to have kids? Which elements in your past relationship were valuable to you, which one weren’t? The more you know about what you’re looking for, the higher the odds that you’ll find the right person for you. 

Your past relationship is really over 

Being friends with your ex is possible, especially if you guys broke up in a respectful manner. But pay close attention to your feelings: is it really friendship you’re looking for, or are you hoping to get together again? You can’t really be open to a new relationship unless you know you don’t want them back. 

You’re ready to share your life 

It may sound like an open door: of course you need to be willing to share your life with someone if you want to have a new relationship. But think about everything it entails: are you ready to share your history, your body, your home, and after a while your family and friends, to a new person? And are you open to all these things in this other person? The more ready you are, the better the start of this new love.   

Text: Dorien Vrieling - Photo: Julian Howard

Do you feel like you're not good enough? These are the 6 ingredients of self esteem

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Being confident in every situation, who wouldn’t want that? Living without insecurities sounds great. But how do you do that?

Self confidence is a bit like calcium. A lack of calcium isn’t deadly, but after a while it does weaken your body. If you could use an extra dose of power, Nathaniel Branden’s six pillars of self esteem might give you the right boost.

In his book, ‘The six pillars of self esteem’, Nathaniel Branden (AKA the originator of the self esteem movement) explains what he thinks are the most important elements that help you to strengthen your self esteem.

1.  Practice living in the moment

Improve the things you are able to change, and learn to accept the things you can’t. Live in the moment, without wishing you were somewhere else. If you focus completely on what you’re doing, you add meaning to your life.

2.  Practice self acceptation

Self acceptation means self improvement. Everyone has their good and less wonderful features, but if you keep comparing yourself to others who are better at the things you’re not so great at, you keep losing – all the time. There’s always someone who’s better at something than you are. But if you accept who you are, and if you’re willing to look your lesser qualities in the eye, you can make choices based on who you are – not who you would want to be.

3.  Practice responsibility

If you have a bad condition and eat unhealthy food, it affects how you feel. You get tired more easily, are less able to focus and you develop all kinds of afflictions. Is treating the symptoms the best solution? Or is it wiser to do something about the underlying problem?

4.  Practice assertiveness

If it’s your goal to be nice to people all the time, they will take advantage of you.

5.  Practice living with a purpose

Dreaming big is fine, but how do you reach the goal of your fantasy? Most of us have goals we would like to reach. But we tend to forget that we need to act in order to make them happen.

For instance, if you want to write a life changing book, how do you make sure you publish it in the end? Do you keep waiting fot The Big Idea? Or should you keep practicing in the meantime, and increasing the skills you need to make your dream come true?

6.  Practice integrity

When it comes to having self esteem, it’s all about learning how to listen to the voice in your own head. That’s not because you have to live according to the rules others impose on you, but because you want to live according to the rules you impose on yourself. Do you walk your talk? Do you lie to yourself and others, or do you do your best to speak the truth – even if a little white lie is much easier?

This is the most difficult pillar of all, but if you follow your own integrity, you’ll find you become much happier and more self confident.  

Photo: Autumn Goodman

 

What does your name say about you? Calculate your name number and find out

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Numerology is applicable to lots of things. You can even find out the meaning of your name: your name number offers insight in your personality. What’s the meaning of your name? 

Calculate your name number 

You calculate your name number for your entire name (first and last name). Calculate your name with and without your baptismal names (if you have any) and compare the meanings. In this table, you can find the figures that are connected to the letters in the alphabet. 

1 A J S
2 B K T
3 C L U
4 D M V
5 E N W
6 F O X
7 G P Y
8 H Q Z
9 I R

Write down the figures under the letters of your name and then add up. Keep counting the separate figures of this number, until you only have one. Unless you get 11, 22 or 33 as an answer: these are the master numbers, that represent a special life mission. 

Example: 
Joyce van der Heijden
16735 415  459  8591455 = 87 (8+7) = 15 (1+5) = 6

Hidden features 

Do you want to know what your name tells you about your personality and self image? Then add up the vowels in your name. Do you want to know the impression you make on others? Only add up the consonants. And your hidden talent? To find out what that is, you add up the figures from the first letters of your first- and last name. 

Example vowels Joyce van der Heijden: 
OE A E EIJE
65 1 5 5915 = 37 (3+7) = 1

Example consonants Joyce van der Heijden: 
JYC VN DR HDN
173 45 49 845 = 50 (5+0) = 5

Example first letter of first and last name Joyce van der Heijden: 
J H
1 8 = 9

The meaning of the figures 

Calculated all the name numbers? Find out what they mean. 

1 = Leader 

Ones are individualists. Brave people with lots of energy. They are sincere, lively, creative and persistent. Ones like to be in control, are often dominant and rarely take other people’s advice. 

2 = Helper 

Sensitive and intuitive, that’s what the two is. Twos are always ready to help people, they are loving, observing and diplomatic. They long for acknowledgement, and that’s how they sometimes lose sight of their own interests. 

3 = Romantic 

Threes are dreamers. Sensitive, empathetic people. They are communicative and experience life intensely. That sometimes makes them dramatic and moody. Three is nostalgic, holds on to the past and dreams of a beautiful future. 

4 = Disciplined 

Fours work hard. They’re serious and funny at the same time. People with name number four are disciplined, persistent, trustworthy, critical, perfectionists and sometimes very strict. 

5 = Hedonist 

Adventurers, innovative people. Fives are enthusiastic and care deeply about their freedom. They are optimistic, charismatic, sometimes restless people. For fives, it’s really important to learn that life can’t always be fun. Executing their numerous plans is important tot hem. 

6. Harmonious one 

Sixes are warm and loyal people. They are family persons, who strive for peace and harmony. They love esthetic things and being spoiled. The downside of this positive attitude is doubt, indecisiveness and jealousy.

7 = Philosopher

Intellectual and philosophical. The seven is a thinker. They are observing, analytical, mystical people with a sharp ability to observe. They can come across as distant, and are often soloists. 

8 = Successful 

Eight represents ambition, driven by a strong inner power. They are successful, dynamic and straightforward. An eight is a true workaholic, who tends to put their feelings aside if that makes things easier. 

9 = Giver 

Nines are versatile, open minded and peace loving. They are endlessly patient and focused on harmony and unconditional giving. They have to be aware of stubbornness and indecisiveness, because that can cause them to peter out. 

11 = Visionary 

Inspirator with a strong intuition and a spiritual mission. Elevens are often idealists and can truly touch others. They are excentric people, who tend to be unpractical. 

22 = Analytic 

Twenty-two looks at life, and the many projects they start, from a helicopter view. With their strong mind power, they are able to manage and motivate. They are efficient and good at analyzing, but pressure can make them scared or even desperate. 

33 = Healer 

Enlightened people with an ability to heal. Oftentimes, thirty three leads a tumultuous life. They really sense things and give them a spiritual meaning. Their pitfall? Acting like a victim. To avoid it, they have to really embrace life.  

Text: Fabienne Peters - Photo: Allef Vinicius

How to handle high temperatures - especially when you're highly sensitive

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Hot weather? For highly sensitive people, the summer heat can bring extra intense stimuli. The sunrays and high temperatures are intense triggers for them, that can lead to fatigue and other physical complaints. 

High sensitivity is often related to perfectionism, empathy and the tendency to get over stimulated. Highly sensitive people experience the world, with all its stimuli and triggers, more intensely than people who are not highly sensitive. On the one hand, this involves advantages. As a highly sensitive person (HSP), you connect to nature more, you’re more sensitive to other people’s feelings, you feel genuinely responsible and always strive for harmony. 

But leading an intense, sensitive life has its downsides, too. Especially if you’re not sure how to handle it. The huge antennas of a HSP make them vulnerable, they lose their balance more easily and when they get overstimulated, they can get angry or sad or react with panic. 

Besides, the stimuli don’t just come from other people’s behavior, but also from natural circumstances – like the weather. A heatwave, for instance, brings extra intensity for HSP’s. 

Set boundaries, drink water 

Femke de Grijs, HSP expert, explains how it works. ‘A highly sensitive person may enjoy stimuli like heat and sunrays more intensely, but they may also suffer more from it. Skin disorders, headaches, nausea, trouble concentrating or fainting. It depends on the person, though, we’re all different.’ 

If a highly sensitive person has physical, emotional and/or mental problems, an overdose of sunlight or heat may be the cause. Setting boundaries is very important regarding heat and sunlight. 

But: ‘For some highly sensitive people, that’s hard. They feel guilty when they say no, or they take it personally when someone is affected by their boundaries. For instance, some HSP’s don’t want other people to be disappointed, because they’ll feel disappointed themselves, too.’ 

Focus on your energy

‘In that case, it’s very important for a HSP to learn how to control their sensitivity and focus on themselves and their own energy,’ Femke advises. ‘That makes it easier to set your boundaries without feeling guilty, and leave other people’s problems at their plates.’ 

A good way to stay connected to your own feelings, is by being honest about what’s going on inside your mind and what you wish for. ‘For instance, say: “I’m having a hard time handling the heat, so I would like to go grocery shopping at night, when it’s colder.’ 

Highly sensitive persons tend to drink too little water. On hot days, we should drink at least two liters of water (at an ambient temperature) to hydrate the body. Femke: ‘The most important tip is to take good care of yourself. There’s no golden rule, every HSP is unique. The key for person A isn’t necessarily the key for person B. Taking good care of yourself is, especially as a HSP, always job number one.’ 

Text: Eline Hoffman - Photo: Bruno van der Kraan

 

We can't explain everything with our rational minds - and that's a good thing

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The only book about God that’s completely true, is a book with empty pages. After all, divinity surpasses our limited human imagination. 

If you focus on defining the divine, you will be fixated on the definition itself – and lose sight of the magnitude and depth of the thing you’re trying to define. It’s like trying to put the clouds in a box: sure, you’ll grab some air, but if you keep focusing on what’s in the box and stop looking at the ever changing clouds up there, you’ll miss more than you’ve got. And if you try to convince others that the cloud in your box is the only real cloud, you’ll move even further away from the truth. 

Let mystery be mystery

It would be wise of us if we just let mystery be mystery. If we would resist the tendency to look for theories and explanations and stop trying to understand, capture, describe. There are no formulas, no guarantees, no diplomas. Francis of Assisi, one of my favorite mystics, supposedly once asked an almond tree if he wanted to speak about God. The almond tree started blossoming. 

Experience the Higher

Divinity can’t be put into words. But we have our breath, our minds, our beating hearts and our soul driving us. We have two hands to grab the moment that the Higher makes us experience. We have two eyes to absorb everything the invisible has produced and to admire it. We have the silence in ourselves that connects to the incomprehensible and that puts a smile on our faces. 

The closest to the truth of the divine we can get, is when we let go of all ideas, and pave the way to a true experience. 

Text: Susan - Photo: Natalia Figueredo

 

How to be a happy single: 5 useful insights that will change your perspective

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The honorable titlehappy singlewas made up for a reason – yet it can be difficult to find your way in a world that’s focused on couples. But happiness is found in ourselves, not in others. Five insights that will increase your amount of happy moments when you’re not in a relationship.

(And yes, some of them are very useful when you are in a relationship.) 

1. Make sure you’re touched 

When someone touches you in a pleasant way, your brain produces more oxytocin and serotonin, substances that increase your happiness. Almost every human being needs to be touched in order to feel loved, happy and calm. 

As a single person, touches are harder to come by. If you find yourself longing for more physical contact –not necessarily in a sexual way – make it a priority. For instance by taking tango or salsa lessons, by treating yourself to a massage, by getting a pet to cuddle with or by massaging yourself. 

2. Spend time with friends 

In our culture, we mostly focus on love. Friendship comes next. Why not the other way around? We all knew friendships are healthy, not just for singles. But did you know that, as a single, your friendships make you feel much more alive? Cherish the friends who allow you to be your authentic self, who accept you just the way you are. Besides, you can love your friends just as much as you can love a partner. Did you know friendship sickness exists, just like lovesickness? 

3. Spend time outside 

What’s the best place to connect with the mysterious and beautiful things in the world? Nature. It reminds us of our core, of where we come from. If you’re single, but also if you’re in a relationship, it can be very liberating to be amongst the trees, flowers and animals at least once a week. That’s where your heart and soul are fed and you breathe pure oxygen. It makes you feel stronger, and activity (outside) makes your body relax and gives you new energy and insights. 

4. Stir up your creativity

If you don’t have a partner to spar with and to project your creative ideas on, it’s wise to find a new way to stir up your creativity. Being creative will make you come up with new ideas, increases your mind power and gives you strength. Especially if you do it with others, because it will create inspiration. Don’t be afraid to let your creativity run free and take improvisation classes, apply for art class or start a dancing workshop. It doesn’t matter what you choose, as long as it makes you feel good. Being creative helps you to express yourself and frees the real, authentic you. 

5. Live in the present 

Perhaps this is the most important insight: live in the present and enjoy yourself! If you’re merely mulling the broken relationship, or worried about the future, you’re blocking your own happiness. Are there things you could improve in your life, that make you feel happier? Then act, and let go of all the ‘what if…’ thoughts. 

Oh, and in case you ever wonder about the fact that you haven’t found love (yet), just remember: don’t let anyone tell you a new relationship is something that requires a certain amount of time. You don’t need anyone else to be happy. 

Text: Fabiënne Peters - Photo: Erriko Boccia

 

This is why some friendships are temporary and others last a lifetime

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It’s a common fact: as we grow older, we're less likely to befriend new people. Adult freindships can be very close ones, yet not all friendships last. Science says it makes perfect sense.

In order to have a blossoming friendship, you need a few ingredients. First of all, you have to meet somewhere and be interested in one another. Friends are often quite alike, when it comes to hobbies, lifestyle and personality. According to Medical Daily, most friendships spring from situations where you meet regularly. It makes sense: the more often you see each other, the more time there is for something beautiful to originate. 

Reciprocity is key

No wonder many friendships arise between classmates or colleagues. But you won’t become friends with just any colleague, something special has to happen between the two of you. The secret of the transformation from acquaintance to friend is in reciprocity. Do you share your personal story with them, and do they share theirs with you? Then there’s a reciprocal relationship, and the seed of friendship was planted. 

Now, this can turn into a solid friendship that –if maintained well- can last a lifetime. Being interested in each other, being there for each other and having a laugh together is all very important for the continuity of the friendship. But if the feeling is good, you don’t have to work hard for it. 

How long a friendship will last 

Now that we know how most friendships come to life and are maintained, the question is why some friendships come to an end. Brett Laursen, professor at the Florida Atlantic University’s Department of Psychology, researched 410 children’s friendships for six years. As it turned out, only one percent of the friendships that were there at the start, survived the six years. 

The researcher says the ending of the friendships has to do with differences in gender, educational level, popularity and physical aggression. If two people are too different, the friendship will usually end. 

‘Differences are disastrous for friendships. They cause conflict and inequality in the relationship, for instance when one of the friends’ social status changes,’ says Laursen. 

Endings are part of life 

Once things are changing in your life or your friend’s life (moving to a new town, the birth of children, developing new hobbies) while the other one’s life doesn’t evolve with it, the friendship usually comes to an end. The things you had in common are less important to you, there are fewer things to talk about. Maintaining a friendship becomes a lot more difficult. 

After all, it’s the likenesses in personality, life style, interests and habits that were once the base of the friendship. Once these bricks change a lot, you’ll find it’s suddenly more difficult to set a date for your next appointment, the conversations are less personal and you’re both less interested in each other. 

Of course, maintaining a valuable friendships can be hard work sometimes – you don’t want to throw away a cherished relationship just for nothing. But as soon as a friendship starts requiring more energy than it gives you, you may have reached the expiration date of the friendship.  

Text: Eline Hoffman - Photo: Sam Manns

This is what your month of birth tells you about who you are

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When it comes to astrology, opinions are split. Some people are strong believers, others think it’s gibberish. Science hasn’t offered proof for astrology, but it has proven the effect of your birth month. Some scientists say the month of birth affects your personality. 

Many things have an influence on the development of a child in the womb. For instance, it makes sense that a healthy mother is more likely to have a healthy child. If you eat well, with lots of vitamins and protein, it has a positive effect on the unborn child. 

But it also works the other way. Seasonal viruses like the flu during the winter, can have an effect on a fetus. During the winter, the days are shorter and there’s less sunshine, which can cause Seasonal Affective Disorder (SAD). This means that the mother’s body has a lower level of serotonin, which in turn effects the unborn child. 

After birth 

The season of birth doesn’t just affect the child before birth. Research on baby mice has shown that if the little animals spent their first months during the winter, they found it more difficult to get adjusted to the summer light. The winter mice ate less and were a little slower. Mice that were born in the summer months, found it much easier to get adjusted to the winter months. Because scientists were struck by these results, they decided to do more research into the effects of the time of birth. These are the remarkable results. 

Spring

Children born in March, April and May can take a deep breath. They score highly on the ‘hyperthymia’ scale. The what? Hyperthymia means you have a very optimistic personality. Doesn’t sound like you? Perhaps you tend to find the positive in the negative. Still doesn’t sound like you? Some children who are born during these months, are also susceptible for the exact opposite: clinical depression. Babies born in May are most likely to get depressed, according to British research from 2012. November babies are the least likely to get depressed. 

Summer 

As explained above, summer babies aren’t likely to get SAD symptoms. Children born in June, July and August can have the same hyperthymia traits as spring babies, but combined with changing moods: they have extreme highs and extreme lows. 

Autumn 

The long nights and seasonal viruses haven’t really kicked in during the autumn months, and that’s why babies born in autumn are the most stable personalities. It seems they are the least likely to become bipolar. A downside for autumn children is that they tend to get annoyed more easily. 

Winter 

As you might have expected, the seasonal effect is strongest on winter babies. It seems that children born in the winter months are most likely to have schizophrenia, bipolar features, SAD and depression. Not a fortifying list. The good thing, though, is that winter babies don’t get annoyed as easily as autumn kids. And children born in January and February are said to be more creative. 

Of course, it’s not all set in stone – more research needs to be done on the effects of the birth month. 

Photo: Gabby Orcutt

5 tips to help you sleep during a heatwave

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After a nice sunny day at the beach or in the park, you’d love to have a good night’s sleep. But within five minutes, you’re caught in a battle with your duvet, annoyed by mosquitos or dying for a glass of water. If you’re in desperate need of some rest, read along. This heatwave plan will help you to sleep tonight. 

Trick 1: welcome even the smallest breeze 

It may seem like a bad idea, but even on a hut simmer night, it’s important to open the windows. The smallest breeze will bring some movement in the air and make it less sultry. Timing is crucial: open the windows as soon as the sun goes down, or once the temperature starts falling. During the day, it’s wise to keep the curtains closed. 

Trick 2: hack your fan

Some say the fan only circulates hot air, but the key is to put it in the right place. If you put it in front of an open door or window, cooler air will be blown inside, allowing your bedroom to cool down more quickly. 

Another trick: fill plastic bottles up to three quarters with water and put it in the ice box. Once the water has frozen, put the bottles in a basket and put them in front of the fan. The fan will blow cool air now. 

Trick 3: lovely linen

During a heatwave, a big duvet may seem far too hot, but we prefer sleeping under something – it just feels cozier. The right linen can improve your sleep quality. If it’s over 20 degrees, it’s best to stick to sheets, and linen is the best. Because the fabric has fewer threads than cotton, it’s much airier. Besides, it’s very absorbing – perfect in sweaty weather. 

Trick 4: Spartan cooldown

It may sound a bit rigorous, but it works great: put your pillowcase, or a washing clothes, in the freezer for a while. The cold fabric will allow you to fall asleep nice and calm. 

If your feet are really hot, give them a cool (not ice cold) bath before going to bed. Your feet are like heat regulators – if they can’t get rid of their heat, hot flashes will come and get you during the night. 

Trick 5: Choose your drinks wisely

Leave the coffee and alcohol for a while, because it will help you to fall asleep. And no matter how tempting, forget about ice cold drinks from the fridge. These drinks lower your internal body temperature, forcing your body to warm up very quickly. A cup of tea has the opposite effect – and a nice bed time tea like chamomile or lemon balm will make you extra sleepy.

Text: Alies Versteeg - Photo: Vladislav Muslakov

Seven ways to say no in a clear, but friendly way

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It may seem like a contradiction: being friendly and kind, yet guarding your boundaries. But saying no and remaining friendly is perfectly possible. In fact, it's a way of practicing loving kindness. Towards yourself, and others.

Loving kindness doesn’t mean you have to be limitless in your efforts to help other people, or to be liked. Metta, the form of Buddhism in which loving kindness is key, means wishing another person to be happy, to find their way towards a lighter way of living. It’s an attitude that you can practice without saying things you don’t mean. 

The first part of the metta meditation is: ‘may I be happy, may I be well, may I be safe.’ In the second part, you wish the same to someone else. In the third part, you wish the same to everyone. That’s why metta is about wholeness and unity. You wish for the wellbeing of every living creature, including yourself. Loving kindness can be: no, I can’t help you right now, but I wish for you that your needs will be fulfilled.  

Seven ways to say no in a friendly way: 

1. Look the person in the eye, stand firmly and speak clearly. Make contact. 

2. If you know immediately that your answer will be ‘no’, act right away. By waiting and replying later, you leave them ‘hanging’ and you carry the decision with you. If you haven’t decided yet, ask for some time to think.

3. Don’t use words like ‘maybe’ or ‘later’ when all you want to say, is no. 

4. Oftentimes, you can phrase the reason for saying no in a positive way, by letting them know what you will be focusing your time and attention on. If you want, you can thank them for the trust they put in you by asking you this question. 

5. Give one reason for saying no, and stick with that. Keep it short and simple. 

6. If someone keeps pressing, explain to them in a friendly manner that this makes you feel uncomfortable. 

7. Leave room for this person’s possible disappointment, by acknowledging it and not judging – but don’t turn it into your problem. 

Photo: Dangtimô Thimô 

Why now is the perfect time to stop pleasing - life won't wait

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Your partner loves to go to the beach when the sun is shining, you prefer to stay inside, but you join them anyway. Your friends are Beyoncé fans, you’re into rock music, but you join them at Bee’s concert anyway. Or you need to have a serious conversation with your colleagues, but you don’t speak up, because you don’t want them to dislike you. It’s time to stop looking for approval. You don’t need everyone to like you. 

Pleasing people, why do we feel the need to do that? It starts as a convenient technique. Making other people makes you feel good (for a while). And it can be addictive. Who doesn’t want other people to like them? It makes life a lot easier, right? You can keep doing it for a long time – avoiding conflict. But in the end, constantly looking for approval with others is tiresome. 

If we need other people’s approval to feel good, we’re looking for happiness outside ourselves. That way, we give a lot of power to ‘others’. Power over how we feel. Disappointment is inevitable: if someone doesn’t like your behavior, or responds harshly, it’s a shock. 

Besides, you’re living another person’s life. You’re not filling your life with things you really want to do, but adapting it to other people’s needs. And you’re drawing conclusions for them: you don’t even know whether you’re really making them happy. Perhaps your colleague would like you to be strict, because it allows her to learn. 

The real you 

If you’re constantly looking for approval or appreciation with others, you belittle yourself. You go with others, and make it impossible to develop yourself. Do you want to listen to this music, do you want to go to the beach? If it makes you happier to read a book in the park, listening to Bach, why don’t you? 

You’re distancing yourself from new chances by doing what others expect of you. If, for instance, you’ve grown up in a small village but the city tempts you, why not just move there? If you’re scared of disappointing others, you’re ignoring your own dreams and leading other people’s life. The time will come when you’ll regret it. 

Less stress

Maybe you like pleasing others, because you want to avoid conflict. You hate discussions about the choices you make. The idea that others won’t agree with you, makes you feel stressed. But what if you let go of that? If you do things you want to do, not what others want you to? It will make you feel less stressed, and you’ll stop worrying about what the rest of the world may think. 

If you keep pleasing others, people will realize what you’re doing. They’ll regard you as the person they can treat however they want, because you’ll bend anyway. It’s especially unpleasant at work, when colleagues around you like to boss you around. Before you know it, they’ll take advantage of you and walk all over you. What a waste! It’s time to live your life – others do it too!

Photo: Ariana Prestes

Do you have a daughter? Then this letter is for you

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Susan Smit, mother to a son and a daughter, wrote a letter to mothers and fathers of girls. 

Have you ever experienced the magical moment when all of a sudden, your daughter seems to be years younger, and asks for a cuddle or shares something with you? It usually happens at night, after the last story or the last kiss, when the curtains are closed and the night lamp is turned on. When the day is over, it’s just the two of you and she doesn’t want you to go. Even if you’re exhausted after a day of working and caring, even if your mind is already with the me-time on the couch you’ll finally enjoy in a minute, don’t let this moment of vulnerability and openness just pass you by. 

It was one of those times when I just lay down next to my daughter in her bed – me on the duvet, she under it. I stroked her hair. She started telling me about that one girl that never wants to play with her in the schoolyard. ‘She doesn’t like me,’ she said with a broken voice. 

My heart hurt, and I thought for a minute. Of course, I could reassure her and tell her the girl probably didn’t mean it – and that they would play together sometime. But I didn’t. Instead, I said: ‘It happens. Did you think all the people in the world liked mommy? No, they don’t, and that’s fine.’ I whispered: ‘And guess what? I don’t like everyone, either. Do you?’ Her face changed and she shook her head. ‘You see? There’s nothing wrong with that. As long as we are nice to the people we don't really like, too.’ She nodded, her face all serious.

We agreed it was a good idea for her and the girl to just let each other be for a while. And that, if all the people in the world liked each other, it wouldn’t be special to like someone anymore. 

Our sensitive girls 

Ah, our girls. They’re so sensitive, and yet they can be so tough on each other. They form cliques, exclude each other, bully, gossip. When I was a child, I did all I could to be liked by the girls I didn’t trust, unconsciously following the principle of ‘keep your enemies close’. It didn’t bring me happiness. Only when I was a student, I started focusing on the people I felt attracted to, who suited me, were like me or inspired me. It would be great if we could teach our daughters that being liked by everyone only limits us. 

Our girls look at us. More than they listen to us. It’s not so much what we say, but what we do, that impresses them. If we’re real, stop trying to please and just shrug now and then, they will find the courage to do the same. Even if, later on, there’ll be heart breakers and lovers in their lives, and their desire to be loved will be tested, our parental behaviour can function as an example of ‘being true to yourself.’ 

Perhaps, raising children means raising yourself. 

'You look beautiful today'

With surprise, I noticed at what a young age my girl started thinking about what she looked like. Her friends did to, all of them, except a great tomboy. When my daughter was four years old, she already whirled around her new dress in front of the mirror, asked for nail polish and knew exactly how she wanted to wear her hair. I noticed myself telling her ‘you look beautiful today’ far more often than I did my son. Besides, of course, she noticed me putting on make up and being ridiculously happy with a pair of new shoes. What kind of signals did I give her? 

For a moment, I considered to put away all my lipstick. After all, raising kids means giving them the right example. I considered it for five minutes, until I understood that the advantage of being a girl is being allowed to decorate yourself and wearing tulle skirts when you feel like it. Just for fun, to express yourself, to push away the grey. But I promised myself one thing: never would I complain about my lumps and bumps or talk about calories. The female body is, in all its shapes, sizes and ages, glorious and worth accessorizing. Or not, if you don’t feel like it. 

Let's encourage them being angry

And there’s something else. Being kind. That’s something we expect and encourage with girls. Being kind, of course, is a good thing – the world needs more kind people – but it isn’t if you can’t make your point out loud, or ask for your share. Fighting is funny and natural when boys do it, but girls have to play nicely. That’s how we discourage them to feel and express anger, a completely natural emotion. Perhaps that’s the reason why women can burst to tears with anger – this expression is more accepted than putting your fist on the table. 

Let’s not make anger into a forbidden emotion, but let’s encourage our girls to express it in a constructive way –and, if we have to, in a not so constructive way. It will help them to take up space, express their opinion clearly, revolt when necessary, to negotiate at the table and protect their boundaries. If anger is allowed to exist in a girl and a woman, and not labelled ‘hysterical’, she doesn’t have to feel shame about it and she can put it to use as a fierce energy that’s bigger than her shyness, fear and modesty together. 

It’s our daughters who will let women’s voices be heard, who will see through appearances and show what’s not beneficial for the bigger picture, standing on our shoulders, a little more gracious and more vigorously than we did, standing on the shoulders of our mothers. 

With love and respect for you and everything you do for your daughter, 

Susan 

Photo: Caroline Hernandez

 

This is why everyone should travel on their own, at least once in their lives

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People who have travelled on their own, often come back a different person. Taking a trip all by yourself makes you learn things about yourself you wouldn't easily find out in daily life - and these lessons can be useful all through your life. 

1. Complete independence 

Travelling on your own, you’ll have to find your way by yourself, communicate without understanding the language and saving yourself from complicated situations. There’s no friend around with a remarkable navigation talent or another friend who speaks the language. If you want to feel powerful, a solo trip is key. 

The downside is, there’s no shoulder to cry on after a bad day. You’ll have to learn how to deal with all the emotions that are involved in making a big trip – and it gives you character and spirit. 

2. You get to know yourself 

During your journey, you find out very quickly what you’re good at (perhaps there are some new talents to be discovered), but you also find out what your lesser qualities are. Having to handle new situations, you’ll find out how you react and handle it. All by yourself. That’s very informative. 

There are big life lessons to be learned: when you’re feeling unpleasant or don’t want to be around a certain person, you’ll have to stand up for yourself. You’ll have to learn how to say no, and it won’t be easy the first time. But it’s a life lesson that will come to use in lots of situations in your life back home. 

3. It puts things in perspective 

Are you worried about a pimple, or do you dislike the place you were born, with all its stupid rules? Travelling in places with different cultures can put your own background in perspective. 

Travelling connects you to the world around you and makes you feel humble – in a good way. You’ll start appreciating everything you took for granted at home. 

4. You learn about your feelings 

You only have yourself to take into account – there’s no friend around who dislikes cities or wants to go to the beach all the time. During your solo trip, you’re the one taking all decisions. Now that you don’t have to compromise, you’ll get to know your intuition. What makes you feel good, what makes you happy? 

And because you’re in this adventure on your own, you’re more open to new people – and you’ll meet the most beautiful souls. 

5. All your baggage is redundant 

Everyone around you knows who you are, and your friends can probably describe you in a few words. Although it feels great to live in a bubble, on your journey, no one knows your baggage. They don’t know the family your from, what you studied, what you do for a living. 

You don’t have to pretend, because everyone you meet will get to know you exactly the way you are. And vice versa. Perhaps, prejudice will disappear because you meet people you wouldn’t have met otherwise. And if you don’t like it, you just move on. 

6. You discover your own way 

Sometimes, other people drag you into their patterns – causing you to take the same decisions they do. Because, perhaps, people expect you to. While maybe you want different things. By creating a little distance, you’ll find out your deepest desires. DO you want something because you think you should, or because it really makes you happy? 

Feeling like taking a solo trip? Here are some practical tips to make your journey more pleasant. 

1. Sleep in hostels or choose home stays. You don’t necessarily have to share a room there, but there are breakfast rooms where you’ll meet people. 

2. Be friendly, but know when to say ‘no’. Especially if you’re a woman, you’re vulnerable on your own, but your instinct will never leave you. 

3. If you’re feeling lonely, book a tour. We bet you’ll make friends in no time. 

4. Download the ‘Maps.Me’ app. It’s an offline app that allows you to navigate in a downloaded map (you have to download the map in a place with wifi beforehand). You can also mark specific places, so you’ll find your way back (like your hotel or your favorite breakfast place). 

5. Another app, ‘TripWhistle Global SOS’ contains all local emergency numbers. If something’s wrong, the app will dial the number for you and even share your location if necessary. 

6. A translation app is very convenient in places where people don’t speak English. 

7. Feel like taking a yoga class with somebody, or go mountainbiking? The ‘Meetup’ app connects solo travellers. 

Text: Gabriëlle Koster - Photo: Felix Russell-Saw