The Up Beat
By Amy Wong

Positive Thinking Tip: Be a Tourist in Your Own Town

I haven’t read any Proust except this much-quoted line: “The real voyage of discovery consists not in seeking new landscapes but in having new eyes.” Despite the clear connection to positive thinking—it’s not so much your circumstances but how you look at them—I’ve never been entirely in agreement with Proust. I think you often need new experiences to get a fresh perspective on yourself and your life. (Besides, I love to travel.)

But a few weekends ago my high school friend Adrienne and her five-year-old daughter, Chloe, came to New York for a quick visit, and I got a new understanding of what Proust meant. It was Chloe’s first time in New York (they live in suburban Illinois), so a full-on little-girl-in-the-big-city Saturday was in order.

Ice skating at Rockefeller Center. Times Square (with a pilgrimage to the Hello Kitty store, of course). A stroll down Fifth Avenue to take in the New York Public Library (with the big stone lions out front) and the Empire State Building (“Wow, it’s really tall!”). A taxi ride to dinner, Chloe’s favorite food—Japanese noodles, at a soba restaurant in the East Village.

“Sorry to make you spend your Saturday doing all these touristy things,” Adrienne said to me at the end of the night.

“Are you kidding? I had a great time!” I said. And I meant it.

I didn’t go anywhere or do anything I hadn’t done before, but I had as much fun as Chloe did (even ice skating, where she zipped around the rink and I just tried not to take other people down when I fell). When you spend the day with a little girl who still gets all excited about riding an escalator, it’s pretty hard not to see the wonders in life, even in the everyday.

I’ve gotta give Proust props for knowing his stuff. So here’s my Proust-inspired positive thinking tip: If you want an easy (and budget-friendly) way to get a fresh perspective, be a tourist in your own town. Let me know what you (re)discover!

Amy Wong is the executive editor of Guideposts and was a founding editor of Positive Thinking. She lives in New York City with her adopted dog, Winky, a natural-born positive thinker who believes that everyone has a treat for her and every day is the best day of her life. Amy hopes to be that optimistic someday (she’s working on it!).