Travel and Happiness
One feels happy on gaining new experiences and insights, and challenging their boundaries. Travel is the perfect catalyst for happiness, as it has allowed one to experience the natural, cultural and man-made wonders of the world. Being in foreign lands, it also continuously forces one to step out of their comfort zone – a great confidence-builder. Travel is good for lots of things, but it can also increase mental well-being – and not just in the short-term. Whether you’re traveling for business, on a one-week family holiday, or have sold everything to pursue a life on the road, traveling can make you a happier person by building self-confidence, providing new experiences and memories, breaking routine and allowing you to meet people from all over the world.
You probably already knew this, but it’s nice to have it confirmed. A recent study at Cornell University found that spending money on experiences is more likely to bring you lasting happiness than spending money on material objects. The reason being that people “adapt” to physical objects – meaning the things you’ve bought will bring decreasing amounts of happiness as time goes on and you get used to having them around – whereas those one-off experiences will be looked back upon with joy that only increases.
So, spending loads of money on a fancy car, or a watch, or a dress, or a phone, or even a house, is not going to bring you everlasting happiness. You’ll just become used to those things. That iPad you bought will be amazing when you pull it out of the box, and then boring after it’s been played with it for a few weeks, and by the time three or four months have passed you’ll be complaining about what a pile of crap it is and looking at ways of upgrading. Although buying new items may provide novelty, they lack an essential ingredient to the recipe of maintaining happiness.
Shell out cash on a fleeting experience, however, something as simple as visiting an art gallery, or jumping out of a plane, or eating an amazing meal, and you’ve just presented yourself with a personal gift that will keep on giving. You won’t become sick of the memories; on the contrary, they’ll make you happier and happier as time goes on.
Traveling offers one of the best sources of novelty since it brings you to entirely new places and cultures. The barrage of new stimuli significantly impacts your brain and how you process information.
In this space, time seems to slow down and everything feels more enriching. That is because you are focused on absorbing all of the new information.
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