I had just returned to Sydney from traveling Europe and living in London for two years. After years of popping over to a different country for the weekend, exploring London’s theatre scene, constantly booking my next adventure and ticking my favourite artists off my list as I saw them in concert, I worried about how I would settle back into ‘normal’ life at home. And to be honest, it was tough at first – any traveler will understand that I had post-trip depression in a big way.
My little local shopping centre which hadn’t changed in years, and the people who frequented it as if that wasn’t a problem, felt like such an affront to me.
But I decided I wanted to make the most of what I had. Sydney is of course beautiful and exciting in its own right, so it was my perspective that needed changing, not the city.
I realised there was actually so much of the city that I had never explored – from various inner-city suburbs to hidden beaches to the new bars and restaurants that open on a near-daily basis.
I decided to make an effort to visit them, and began with ticking off Time Out’s top 50 list of bars.
Often I felt like I was discovering a bunch of exciting new places, only to find out that the other people frequenting them had known about them for years. But it didn’t matter. They felt new to me. I still got a hint of that buzz I felt when uncovering exciting travel destinations.
My whole view of the city changed. And all I had done was begin to see it with fresh eyes.
I realised, just as the colosseum certainly isn’t new, but travelers have been reveling in it anew every day for decades, your experience of a place is all about your perspective.
It wasn’t until I was watching a TED talk by Tom Kelley of IDEO that I heard the term ‘vuja de’, which really applied to my mindset at the time.
Vuja de is the opposite of deja vu. Where deja vu refers to a strange feeling that what is happening has happened before, vuja de is the opposite – a strange feeling that none of this has happened before.
It’s seeing common places with an uncommon view. Coming at a problem from a whole new angle. Understanding things with a fresh perspective.
I don’t know about you, but that’s a feeling I’m constantly chasing.
As someone who values creativity, innovation and philosophy, it was surprisingly easy to find a lot of avenues for applying this mindset in other parts of my life too.
That mindset is what I try to share here, through stories of travel, perspective, mindfulness, and intriguing philosophical ideas.
I hope sometimes it helps you experience vuja de too.
“The vuja de mentality is the ability to keep shifting opinion and perception. It means shifting our focus from objects or patterns in the foreground to those in the background… It means thinking of things that are usually assumed to be negative as positive, and vice versa. It can means reversing assumptions about cause and effect, or what matters most versus least. It means not traveling through life on automatic pilot.”
– Bob Sutton, Weird Ideas That Work