So much of our life passes us by in the mundane day-to-day tasks. It’s easy to feel wrapped up in work, errands, and family life. And before we know it, a significant amount of time has passed, and we don’t have any unique memories to hold on to.
Life is meant for living, and that’s why the quote from the Dalai Lama that says “Once a year, go someplace you’ve never been before” should carry weight for you.
While I believe an initial assessment of this quote could lead one with a desire to travel (and you should if you can!) I also think you can apply it to trying something you’ve never done, or stepping outside of your comfort zone in any essence of the word. When we change our scenery, not only does it give us a new perspective, but it can also expose us to different ideas, cultures, and experiences. Aside from that, there are scientific backings to the benefits of travel and experiences.
An article from the Goodwall Blog identified:
“According to a study by the Global Commission on Aging and Transamerica Center for Retirement Studies, in partnership with the U.S. Travel Association, travel decreases the risks of heart attacks and makes your brain healthier. The study determined that men who take an annual vacation are 30% less likely to die from heart disease, among other findings.”
Another article from NBC News speaks to how traveling can increase creativity (when travelers are intentional about the connections they’re making):
“Foreign experiences increase both cognitive flexibility and depth and integrativeness of thought, the ability to make deep connections between disparate forms.”
There are other well-known benefits to traveling such as stress relief, promoted rest and relaxation, increased learning, and more intentional time with loved ones.
It doesn’t all have to be linked to travel, though. As I mentioned above, I think we can also take the quote to mean going somewhere within yourself that you’ve never been before. Maybe it’s trying a hobby you never thought you would (skydiving, anyone?). Encourage yourself to try a different style, or a fitness or dance class. Engage with a group of people you ordinarily wouldn’t.
An article from Cornell discusses the benefits of leaving our comfort zone and trying something new with:
“When we feel out of our comfort zone, we interpret that as a sign to proceed carefully, or not at all. Yet, ultimately to succeed in business, we need to take risks,” Kaitlin Woolley said. “Seeking discomfort can help ensure our success.”
If traveling is not an option right now due to budget constraints, health, or timing, there are still ways to experience other cultures and immerse yourself in different experiences. Fun ways you can feel like you’re in a different environment without actually being in one include a virtual cooking class focusing on a different cultural cuisine, doing a virtual tour of a European museum, or watching a movie set in a different country.
Reaching out to a local nursing home and partnering with a resident pen pal could also be a great way to learn from someone else about the life experiences they’ve had and the lessons they’ve received along the way. Ask friends who travel to send you postcards and share a story of their travels. Lastly, you could try learning a new language or hosting a dinner party with a different cultural theme.
There are so many fun ways to immerse ourselves in other cultures, as well as learn from other experiences.
To ensure you don’t forget the value of these experiences, make a journal and/or scrapbook to record your experiences. Share your thoughts with friends and family or make a cool Instagram post. You’ll be having so much fun, you won’t realize it wasn’t an actual trip.
Have your past travels transformed you? What did you learn about yourself and others? Let us know in the comments below!
Feature Image by Mesut Kaya on Unsplash