Internal vs. External: How Mindset Can Change Your Perception Of Where You Are

My friends and I have a trip planned to Big Sky, Montana for the end of this month. I was texting with one of my friends Luke about the upcoming trip.

I asked him, “What are some of the things you want to do while we’re there?”

He listed off several things and then said this, “Maybe a hike or something but I’m more on the internal journey vibes, versus external.”

I was so excited when I read this text from him because it’s something I have been thinking about myself. For me personally, the idea has manifested as apathy about where I am located physically.

Recently, I have spent time in two different apartments in San Francisco, a house in the suburbs of Kansas, and a bungalow in San Diego. Coming up, I’ll be traveling to Cabo, Big Sky, and Gatlinburg.

But I’m not as excited about the travel destinations as I expected myself to be, which brings us back to Luke’s point — internal versus external “vibes.” Let’s replace “vibes” with “experiences,” for a little more clarity.

Internal experiences include thinking, feeling, dreaming, meditating, and also (in a sense) just being. External experiences include seeing places, hearing sounds, touching things, and other sensory experiences in the physical world. I don’t think this delineation is black and white, but it will serve us for now.

The difference between internal and external experiences is particularly important to me at this time in my life because of my continued education in spirituality and Eastern thought. When I am meditating or just being mindful of whatever is happening around me, I realize that it doesn’t really matter where I am.

Occasionally, I’ll have the desire to be in a “better” place — in this case, I mean “place” literally, like a physical space, as opposed to a general state of being. But one of the teachings that I have been encountering (most recently from Tolle) is that there is no such thing as “good” or “bad.”

There is a Shakespeare quote, which I believe comes from Hamlet, that echoes this thought,

“There is nothing either good or bad, but thinking makes it so.”

Through this lens, there is really no such thing as a “better” place. There is only a place that I think is better.

So when I am in a “worse” place, I have at least a couple of options: I can leave the place and go to another place, or I can change my thinking about the place. If I am going for external experiences, I would choose the former; internal experiences, the latter.

Now, if nothing is either good or bad, then the same must be true for internal versus external experiences. Neither internal nor external experiences are either good or bad. But, alas, like Jim Carrey said during his commencement address that I watched on YouTube,

“I’m making sound, and that’s the important thing.”

Poet and sales leader

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