How can travelling broaden the mind?

“Home, sweet home”. Most of us sigh with relief when we return from a trip. For a day or so, we feel refreshed to be back to our life, the way we know it – with our habits and struggles. Yet, have we ever considered a new destination as a potential home?

Travelling challenges our abilities

In the 19th century, English aristocrats would send their youngsters on journeys of initiation. The aim of the journey was to enable young men the transformation to the stage of adulthood.

Some of today’s youngsters, including women, continue this tradition. Their goal can be to take distance from their parents and see what they’d like to do in life.

Irrespective of age, venturing abroad can be an eye opener to hidden sides of ourselves.

The unknown environment is suitable for testing our abilities. For example, if we get lost in a new city, we can resort to:

  1. Asking for help from locals. We may want to do that to test how well we manage talking to people in a foreign language.
  2. Using our intuition. No matter if we are intuitive type of person, we may still want to test if our intuition can bring us back on the right track.
  3. Using the GPS application on our phone, if we want to become an every day tech-savvy.

When we are back home, we may surprise ourselves with creative solutions to the problems which seemed insurmountable before the trip.

Visit new cities as if you would temporarily move there

When I discover a new city, I like imagining how my everyday life would be if that place were my home. I choose to focus on the positive sides of the respective habitat.

In Barcelona, I would live close to the Barceloneta beach, so that I can have my daily dialogues with the sea and make my way in the streets among enthusiastic tourists.

In Paris, I’d live in the Latin Quarter to be surrounded by student life and book stores evoking the literary past.

In Amsterdam, I’d choose to live for one month on a boat on the Canal to wake up with a different view at the window, each morning.

After imagining how it would be to live in different places, we can become aware how the surrounding environment can influence our state of mind and our thoughts.

Wherever I Lay My Hat (That’s My Home)

This is the title of a song which was first recorded in 1962. Some of us identify themselves so much with the house where they live and the objects in it, that it must be very hard imagining another place called home.

Without doubt, it is good for our emotional balance to feel rooted in a place. Yet, it is even better for our psychological and spiritual growth to develop the ability to feel like home wherever we go.

Every city has one characteristic that resonates in us and reveals who we truly are.

How about you, what do you like about travelling? And how does travelling affect you?


So, Who Are You?

We are busy

Single people, people in relationships, people having a family – we buzz around all day long, in the pursuit of deeds that we perceive more or less meaningful.

Even the standard reply to the question “How are you?” has changed from “I am fine.” to “I am busy”. I wonder. Is it possible that we WANT to keep ourselves busy? Otherwise, how would we know what to do with ourselves? What thoughts and feelings would we have during half an hour of sitting in silence?

With whom to be better connected than with yourself?

When the evening comes and we put our head on the pillow, do we impersonate the wife, mother, student or subordinate that we were during daytime? Why not trying to find ourselves in the few minutes before sliding into the world of sleep?

What a treat at the end of the day, to reconnect to ourselves, to the joyous soul with which we came into this world! If we want to know why we came into this world, wouldn’t it be sensible to try to figure out who we were when we landed here? Who we were before we were damaged?

Maybe one night we get lucky and we feel our soul. We feel its core, its breath, and its wholeness. Who knows what else we would discover about who we truly are?

What if we don’t know how to reconnect to ourselves?

We need to look for help from the external environment so that we are put on the right track, which we would later follow on our own.

We need EXPOSURE. We need to start opening the channel that connects us to ourselves. For example, finding a group of people who are in a similar search and join them. Talk and discuss.

See the example of the Paphos Seminar, a one-week seminar on the psychology and philosophy of the good life, which has been organised twice a year for 18 years in Paphos, Cyprus by the philosopher Esa Saarinen (professor at Aalto University, Helsinki, Finland). The aim of the seminar is to help people “to construct their own ideas and to spread them internally”, “to open a broadband channel to people’ subjective sense of life orientation.” No ideas are imposed, simply a framework of philosophical ideas that offer food for thought. The participants are free to become emotional as they reflect upon different themes related to life, such as “present moment”, “love”, “choice” and “respect”. At the end of the seminar, each attendant discovers new insights into herself/himself.

The idea of this seminar can be replicated at a smaller case by you, me, by everyone. For example, how about gathering a group of friends with an interest in say, finding happiness, and discuss relevant books, every three months? (since we are busy people, maybe a more frequent interval for meetings is out of question.)

How about those ones of us who are too shy and too introvert for such sort of group activities? In this case, skipping the discussions and reading books on our own may equally help. Whatever works as long as we feel we have reached access the core of our souls.

Reflecting upon our life is enlightening the haze inside us. We don’t know why we are here but we should feel grateful for the life that was offered to us. Why not do the most with it and start by rescuing ourselves?