Travel can be a great experience for all sorts of obvious reasons — ranging from the fact that it can be a way of getting into the sun during the colder months where you live, to the fact that a travel vacation likely won’t involve you having to submit a bunch of work reports, day after day.
One of the main potential benefits of travel that gets talked about far and wide, however, is the potential of travel to help individuals to “find” or “discover” themselves in one sense or another.
“Finding yourself” in life can be a bit of a tricky concept to get a proper handle on. It’s often connected to things like self expression and the activities that people engage in as a means of furthering that self expression — ranging from things like looking up custom Number Plates for sale, to carefully selecting the right outfit for a day out on the town.
At its most fundamental level, though, most people — when they talk about finding themselves — are talking about connecting to the deepest and most essential parts of themselves, figuring out their priorities, developing a clearer sense of direction in life, and everything that goes along with it.
It turns out that travel really can help you to find yourself — but it’s not something that you can necessarily expect to happen automatically along the way, if you aren’t being mindful of what it is you are after.
Here are a few ways in which travelling can help you to find yourself.
By helping you to tap into parts of yourself that you may not in touch with in everyday life
Over the course of everyday life, we all tend to fall into very well-worn “grooves,” in terms not only of the kinds of routines that we repeat, but also in terms of the parts of ourselves we end up habitually connecting with and expressing.
The bottom line is that certain parts of yourself are going to get called to the forefront when you are engaged in some activity like exploring the ruins of an ancient civilization, or are hiking through a tropical rainforest as part of a group, than when you are watching TV at home or are busy at the office.
Discovering yourself means — in part — actually connecting with and expressing the many sides of yourself that don’t get called forth on a normal basis. At least, the ones that you want to experience more of, and embody more often, as a whole.
Travel can serve as a great motivator for many of those inner parts of yourself to emerge and take a more active role in your experience of everyday life.
By giving you a window into other ways of life
One of the most obvious — and even perhaps stereotypical — benefits of travel is the fact that visiting new places gives you a window into other ways of life.
This can have various benefits, ranging from making you more empathic and culturally aware, to helping you to better appreciate the things you like about home.
Another of the great benefits of being exposed to other ways of life, is the fact that it can help you to envision different ways of doing things, and different ways of perceiving the world, to the ones that currently apply to you. Some of these different ways of doing things may strike you as significantly impactful, and may help you to become a more realised version of yourself.
Maybe you’re always stressed and are driven by concerns about the bottom line in your business. But following a journey to Southern Europe, you begin to resonate with the idea of a more relaxed pace of life that places a greater emphasis on things like community and leisure.
Or, it could just as easily be the case that you visit a place renowned for its ambitious population, and find yourself motivated to embark on more ambitious projects of your own.
Often, seeing different ways of doing things can, in and of itself, begin a process of transformation and self discovery.
By giving you a bit of space from your everyday concerns and familiar routines
It can actually be quite difficult to get in touch with the authentic “inner you” when you’re constantly being bombarded by the stresses and distractions of the moment.
To put it a bit differently: the kinds of things that you may feel on a deeper level — a desire to nurture a close romantic relationship, to get closer to nature, or any number of other things for example — can be “drowned out” and obscured by the fast-paced chores and obligations of the moment.
Travel can be an excellent opportunity for getting a bit of distance from your everyday concerns and familiar routines. In this way, it can remove the constant hustle and bustle, and “noise,” that may well dominate your normal waking life.
In the absence of that noise and distraction, it can become much easier to see the deeper motivations and interests that lie at your core, but which you may be routinely overlooking.
By helping to remind you to be more present in the moment
Perhaps one of the most significant benefits of travelling to new places, is simply that the novelty of seeing and experiencing these new places ends up sharply drawing more of our attention into the present moment.
Advocates of mindfulness have long emphasised the importance of “being here, now.” The present moment is where the magic of life unfolds itself moment by moment. It’s also where we can check in with ourselves and learn who we really are — and take a more active role in shaping who we are becoming.
Today, with the wealth of highly sophisticated digital technology that we are all surrounded by, day and night, there’s an ever-growing risk of failing to experience and interact with the world directly, and of instead getting too caught up in our own abstractions — or in someone else’s.
When seeking to “find yourself,” simply being more present may be of great help.
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