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?


Life as an Immigrant

Some of us are like the trees. They are born in a country where they grow roots. Others are like the river, flowing into foreign countries of great expectations.

We get enchanted by the idea of breaking free from whatever makes us feel imprisoned back home. We get lured by higher levels of income and more exciting careers paths. Yet, we may forget one aspect: living in another country shakes up the core of our being, identity and believes.

We have two alternatives: either live in continual rejection of the new environment or accept it. Accepting the new culture means finding ways of adopting some of the values that resonate in us and being aware of the differences. After living as a foreigner for more than ten years, I am still struggling to understand the way of interaction between people in the new country, as I write in the Expat View of the Helsinki Times.

Living in another country offers the opportunity to embrace spiritual growth. There are so many cultures around this globe, yet there is a common beginning and end for each life. As for myself, I never left from my home country, but then again, I never stayed either. I guess I am like a bird, migrating back and forth.

How Selfish Do You Think You Need to Be in a Marriage?

And they lived happily ever after. What a wonderful ending for childhood stories. I used to close the book with a smile full of anticipation and naiveté. After many years of taking the face value of these stories, I finally understood their deeper meaning.

Why did the princess and not the daughter of the witch win the heart of the prince?

Well, yes, everybody, especially children need to hear about happy endings. But if we take a closer look at the true nature of the character of the princess, she is the embodiment of kindness, altruism, and compassion. In exchange, the daughter of the witch is mean and selfish.

Passion and the initial love may change over time. As Mark Twain said in his Notebook 1894, “No man or woman really knows what perfect love is until they have been married a quarter of a century …”. Interests, needs, beliefs and physical appearance change. One aspect stays constant: the true nature of each one of us.

What helps to mitigate marital conflicts?

Research on Americans and Europeans shows that married people perceive themselves to be happier than single, divorced or separated people (Dalai Lama, The Art of Happiness, 10th Anniversary Edition: A Handbook for Living).

“I think that if one is seeking to build a truly satisfying relationship, the best way of bringing this about is to get to know the deeper nature of the person and relate to her or him at that level, instead of merely on the basis of superficial characteristics.” (Dalai Lama, The Art of Happiness, 10th Anniversary Edition: A Handbook for Living)


Maintaing a healthy and happy marriage is a journey of spiritual growth. As much as it is about discovering the deeper nature of our spouse, as Dalai Lama wisely pinpoints, it is about fighting the demons inside us. And the biggest demon is the selfishness which characterises each human being.

Being open to improve ourselves

A happy marriage is built on the willingness to destroy the selfishness, which is the cause of most of the conflicts. Instead of wasting the time on being angry and pointing our finger at the faults in our spouse, a constructive attitude is to remember that both we and our spouses want to be happy and don’t want to suffer.

The perfect love after a quarter of a century of marriage does not come by the grace of God. On the contrary, it requires patience and team work to discover the “deeper nature” of our partners. I am not an expert in happy marriages, but one thing I’ve learned so far is that living happily ever after means knowing how to turn the selfishness into altruism towards our spouses.