My Mindful Week: Intro

Close your eyes, relax your mind and let your thoughts wander to the happiest memory from your childhood. The image might be a bit blurry around the edges, but you are able sense the distinct sound of rain falling, lightly pitter pattering on the metal roof above your head. You’re 8 years old.
You just got up 15 minutes ago, and you’re enjoying a morning cartoon on your local TV channel. This is a rainy Sunday so you will probably spend it playing pretend in the alleyway with a few of the neighbourhood kids. At this exact moment though, eight-year-old you are not thinking about what you did wrong yesterday, or what you have to do to impress your playmates this afternoon; you’re just contentedly fixate your gaze upon the cheap TV screen.
At that moment, you’re happy to just be.

Your version of a happy childhood memory might be different from mine, but I believe we all have one with much-or-less the same essence. When we were younger, even with perhaps a shorter attention span, we were much more attuned to our surroundings. Everything, from the fluttering of a yellow flower petal in the breeze, to the colorful reflected city lights after a light evening rain amused our little hearts. It didn’t really take much to make us enjoy the moment; sometimes we are entertained just by swinging on our hammock as hard as possible.

But then we grew up.
We became more fixated on the future or the past.

We start to fret about what might go wrong in the future, justifying to ourselves that we are preparing for the worst case possible; I mean, isn’t that what adults supposed to do? Fretting and preparing all the time?

We are also frequently caught up with past events- embarrassments and heartaches. It takes much more to amuse us; as if happiness is a carrot pulled over our heads with an invisible sting, always insight, yet perpetually out of touch.

For the longest time, I’d been searching for a way to get back into that childhood stupor where everything, even the most mundane as a dusty shop sign was fascinating, where one’s senses are highly attuned the happenings of the outside world, where one’s capacity to enjoy life is infinite. Even without evidence to back it up, I have this inkling that the capacity to commit one hundred percent of our mind and body to a moment is the happiest state a human being can attain, with our inner turmoil and flaws. Some philosophers and researchers actually back up this notion.

download“Attention is like energy in that without it no work can be done,” says Mihaly Csikszentmihalyi, the famous author of the book Flow: The Psychology of Optimal Experience (which I highly recommend), “and in doing work is dissipated. We create ourselves by how we use this energy. Memories, thoughts and feelings are all shaped by how use it. And it is an energy under control, to do with as we please; hence attention is our most important tool in the task of improving the quality of experience.”

Further explained in his book is how one can channel one’s attention to get into the “flow” state where one loses consciousness of oneself, and immersed in the experience at hand, not unlike how you forget about your chubby arms and just dance to the rapture of a tune when you were a toothless child.

Susan Sontag, a famous author and speaker has this to say regarding attention in her Vassar College Commencement Speech, 2003 (link here):

“Do stuff. Be clenched, curious. Not waiting for inspiration’s shove or society’s kiss on your forehead. . . . Pay attention. It’s all about paying attention. It’s all about taking in as much of what’s out there as you can, and not letting the excuses and the dreariness of some of the obligations you’ll soon be incurring narrow your lives. Attention is vitality. It connects you with others. It makes you eager. Stay eager.”

 

It really doesn’t take well-respected thinkers to convince us that attention is the key to life.

Just take a brief pause and look over your shoulder to the path of your life.

Why do some memories stick out more than others? Yes, because we were paying attention to it.

Why do companies spend billions of dollars devising strategies to grab our attention to their ads, even resorting to using sublime messages? Yup, attention. If they can control where our attention goes to, they can to a certain extend control our decisions.

I sincerely believe that our attention is not made to deal with the bombardment of so many attention-grabbing ads we encounter every single day. A normal city dweller today has enough excitement to last a 10th century Angkorian for a lifetime. Our inboxes are flowing with “urgent” stuff that needs our attention. Our newsfeed is pasted all over the place with injustice, issues, and events that claim to deserve our attention. But in the midst of this chaotic whirlwind of notifications, what do YOU want to pay attention to? What do you want to prioritize? It’s time like this that the practice of mindfulness is all the more vital.

It’s surprising, considering the fact that Cambodian claims to be a Buddhist country, yet it takes me, as a Cambodian citizen, 20 years to get acquainted with this simple concept of Buddhism (from a Vietnamese monk living in exile in the United States nonetheless). Again, just to clarify, mindfulness is not a religious practice. If you’re like me, who’s not all that into religions, just think of it as a life hack.

So why mindfulness? But most importantly, what is mindfulness?

To state it clearly and simply, mindfulness is the practice of being aware of what is happening outside and inside of oneself. It’s a very simple concept; one that is very easy to grasp intellectually, but quite difficult to integrate into our daily lives.

Our heads especially as adults have the tendency to flutter away from our feet. We fret over the reason why someone would insult us in a classroom a week ago, or we are anxious about how our date would go this evening, or what would we do when we finally graduate. What if we fail this class? What if we can’t find a satisfying job? What if we are left behind while all our friends get on with the rides of their successful lives?

We are so caught up with our worries and anxieties that we forget to listen to the chirping of the birds outside of our windows, or the presence of our close friends going on and on about their days right beside us. We always think that maybe some time in the future, we might finally have time to enjoy our lives, but the circular pattern draws on. Once we get to that “future”, we will still be fretting over the future of “that future”.

Until one day, death comes and we’re gone.

 

 

The only reality that is available to us is this moment right here and right now, and if we don’t live here, when can we be alive? In the past where everything is a memory, or in the future which consists of only projections?

To chain our mind down to the present reality, our breathing comes in handy. We don’t need to buy a new gadget, or go somewhere exotic to get in touch with life.

Just breathe.

 

Notice how you are breathing in, and how you are breathing out. Notice the presence of things around you, the people chattering away, the smell of air, the odd chances that we are alive right here right now. Notice the feelings boiling inside you. Maybe you’re scared; maybe you’re contented. Just notice them,

and breathe.

 

If you don’t buy into the above claims, consider this solid research. Several researchers have found out that meditation, and mindfulness practice DO have a physical effect on our brain.

Mindfulness meditation was found to bring about the thickening of some brain regions associated with attention, interception, and sensory processing. It might even lead to the offset of our brain thinning that normally happens as we age [1]. That doesn’t even need a long time practice to take effect, as a matter of fact, another research with only an eight-week Mindfulness-Based Stress Reduction (MBSR) program found an increase in their participants’ left sided brain regions which are associated with the reduction in anxiety and an increase in immune system [2].

Relationship-wise,  mindfulness-based programs were also found to increase happy couples’ closeness, satisfaction, autonomy, relatedness, acceptance and decrease their relationship distress. Furthermore, individually, those couples found their optimism, spirituality, relaxation increased and their psychological distress decreased. The effect even holds up 3 months after the evaluation [3].

Research after research has also found that mindfulness practice increase family connection. (I won’t be getting into that today, because let’s face it, we’re all pretty much non-married. However, the reference to the research journals in included just in case you want to dive in further [4]).

Now, onto juicier stuff. Mindfulness training has been found to increase the relapse prevention in substance abuse by enabling people to treat urges as simply urges without caving into them [5]. It’s also believed to actually reduce distress associated with pain; thereby, reducing the perceived pain [6].

Mindfulness practice was also tied to relapse prevention of major depression episode among chronically depressed people [7]. And because of its non-judgemental nature, it also indirectly leads to relaxation and stress reduction [8].

Given the growing track record of the benefits of mindfulness, I think we should all take a closer look at this champion right here. I mean, if there’s proof that this method might just turn your life around, why not give it a try?

That was exactly my thought when I began to dabble into the world of mindfulness a year and a half ago, and directly or indirectly, I believe it has helped to exhilarate many facets of the growth I’ve experienced in these corresponding years. Therefore, I’d like to take this chance to share with you what I’ve practiced and believed to have helped me deal with this crazy thing we call life. However, due to its extensive length, I’m going to break each main practice into a blog post and compile it into a not-so-originally named series called My Mindful Week!

Do not expect to cure yourself of depression, anxiety, sadness and envy all in one week though (because bruh, I’m still struggling), but like I said, I hope it can help you lessen these negative experiences no matter how little. Please be aware that the series is not the final say in mindfulness (obviously). Please, please, if it is not working for you, go out, explore this wonderful practise on your own- visit a mindfulness therapist, ordain as a monk, read a book or nine about it- dig deeper! The series is only meant to be a personal sharing of the practises I’ve found useful and most of them are from the teachings of Thich Nhat Hanh (go dig deeper about this guy, like seriously).

Also, another thing before ending this nearly 2k word article, mindfulness is a habit; it’s a way of life. It’s taken literally decades for Thich Nhat Hanh (a monk) to be a master of it, and  me one year and a half to realize the little change I’ve experienced. My point is that you will grow very frustrated and bored and probably doubtful of these practises, but please please hold on out until you are sure you can’t take it anymore and then hold out some more because it’s literally changed my life and no doubt many others’ around the world throughout history.

Well, that’s all for now, fellas! I hope you have a great sleep today, because our training will start tomorrow morning and it’ll be simple but not quite easy (it’s pretty hard). Good luck on your journey!

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Journal or Nah?

What does Sylvia Path, Virginia Woolf, Ralph Waldo Emerson, and Benjamin Franklin had in common? Great strides? Ambition? A quirky sense of fashion? An overwhelming Personality? Maybe, I don’t know, but one thing I know for sure though is that they were all avid diarists. Many a great accomplished person from every field, be it of science, politics or arts have been dedicating their precious time for journal writings which continue for more than half of their lives. Is that a coincidence? Or a not-so-hidden secret that might have contributed to their success and quality of lives?

Let us examine the benefits of journal writing, and see for ourselves.

(There seem to be an overwhelming amount of pros here, so brace yourself, my reading beans.)

  1. Better language and/or writing skills: the very obvious reason most Cambodian youths take up journaling is to improve their English. Of course, if you write your entry in English, overtime, you will undoubtedly have a better grasp in English, and writing in general. In fact, I started keeping a diary in Mandarin to sharpen my Chinese competency (and it didn’t work for long), and switched to English for the pretty same reason. It has definitely helped me practice putting phrases and words I’ve learned into good frequent use. Also, most of my classmates from English class is amazed at my ability to write about almost anything in a short amount of time. Well, it’s nothing miraculous, really. I’ve just been writing on so many things that my brainstorming process gets more efficient. Sylvia Path, one of the most renowned poets, and novelist of the 20th century was an avid diarist; she thought it was a great warming up exercise for her craft.book-diary-fingers-hand-favim-com-673046
  2. Legacy: wouldn’t it be nice to read about what your grandparents did when they were your age? Were they equally lost and somehow depressed? Did they have a crush on anyone? How did they meet? How did they fall in love? All these questions might also be asked by your future children and grandchildren. Your diary can become material for your memoirs later on. It might become one of the best-selling books in the world like Anne Frank’s (if you get famous or something), or just a hidden legacy for your private family. Without diaries, how many lines can you write about what you’ve been through for the past *insert your age*? I know I can write just about one page of my 21 years on Earth without the help of a diary.
  3. Improved problem solving skills: according to Karina K. R. Hensberry and Tim Jacobbe (2012) who did an experiment on the effects of Polya’s heuristic and diary writing on children’s problem solving found out (with a pretty limited sample) that children who wrote down the process of their math solving had an improved set of problem solving skills in their post-test. I do not believe it only works for children. Writing makes our heads clearer, thoughts more precise, and as a result, we get a better chance of pin-pointing what exactly is nagging our nerves away, and the best way to treat it.
  4. beatiful-fountain-pen-old-pen-favim-com-1324916Improved knowledge retention: according to the educator, Roger Hiemstra (2001), learners are “urged to … use one of the journaling formats as a means for assisting them to obtain the maximum amount of interaction, knowledge and personal growth from their reading efforts or other learning experiences.” Apparently, just by reflecting and jotting down what your learning process help you maximize the amount of knowledge you can retain from the said experience.
  5. Critical self/professional reflection: Heimstra also suggests that journaling gives one the opportunity to conduct critical reflection upon oneself, one’s ideas, insights and world views. It can also give one a space to grow professionally by critically assessing a professional matter. Heimstra is not alone in this view as the Nobel laureate, Andre Gide at the ripe age of 22, thought that keeping a diary is a way for him to peel back the layers, and rediscover what lays beneath.

    220px-gide_by_laurensWhenever I get ready to write really sincere notes in this notebook, I shall have to undertake such a disentangling in my cluttered brain that, to stir up all that dust, I am waiting for a series of vast empty hours, a long old, a convalescence, during which my constantly reawakened curiosities will be at rest; during which my sole care will be to rediscover myself.” (The Journals of Andre Gide Volume I, and II).

  6. Improved health: studies have also demonstrated that journaling leads to better emotional health, especially when we deal with trauma, and stress. According to Itziar Fernandez and Dario Paez (2008) whose research had 607 participants some of whom are indirectly and directly affected by the terrorism attack in Madrid, generally called M11, use expressive writing to recall the traumatic event. Participants reported a lowered amount of negative emotions, while positive emotions were not significantly affected. Apparently, the study concludes that some aspects of expressive writing such as using positive emotion words can alleviate negative emotions in a 2-month follow-up, while emphasizing negative experience does not help.tumblr_static_3lpkfxrbp9gkg40oc804soss0Strangely enough, journaling is also tied to better physical health. According to Karen A. Baikie, Kay Wilhelm (2005), long-term benefits of expressive writing include:
    Health outcomes
    – Fewer stress-related visits to the doctor
    – Improved immune system functioning
    – Reduced blood pressure
    – Improved lung function
    – Improved liver function
    – Fewer days in hospital
    – Improved mood/affect
    – Feeling of greater psychological well-being
    – Reduced depressive symptoms before examinations
    – Fewer post-traumatic intrusion and avoidance symptomsSocial and behavioural outcomes
    – Reduced absenteeism from work
    – Quicker re-employment after job loss
    – Improved working memory
    – Improved sporting performance
    – Higher students’ grade point average
    – Altered social and linguistic behaviour
  7. Letting loose: Anais Nin, and Virgina Woolf both agreed that by writing in their journals, they were able to put everything that was swimming in their heads spontaneously on paper, or in Woolf’ words

    pes_509988“I note however that this diary writing does not count as writing, since I have just re-read my year’s diary and am much struck by the rapid haphazard gallop at which it swings along, sometimes indeed jerking almost intolerably over the cobbles. Still if it were not written rather faster than the fastest type-writing, if I stopped and took thought, it would never be written at all; and the advantage of the method is that it sweeps up accidentally several stray matters which I should exclude if I hesitated, but which are the diamonds of the dustheap.” (A Writer’s Diary)

    By doing so, they were able to jot down the most impulsive of thoughts which have the potential to spark a creative flare later on in the form of inspiration, or writing materials.

  8. Self-shaping: The great writer, Susan Sontag seemed to believe that by journaling, one not only discovers oneself, but one creates oneself as well.
    That harmonizes with Hiemstra’s ideas as well. They both believe by writing down our thoughts, perceptions, and actions, we are creating an ideal self which we aspire to be. It can also be used as a place for you to be your own cheerleader.The famous writer, John Steinbeck used his diary as a tool for self-discipline and self-motivation for the work he made himself undergo to produce the masterwork that earned him several literary awards, The Grapes of Wrath. His diary is a rollercoaster of motivation and self doubts.In one entry, he wrote in Working Days: the Journal of the Grapes of Wrath :

    john-steinbeck“My many weaknesses are beginning to show their heads. I simply must get this thing out of my system. I’m not a writer. I’ve been fooling myself and other people. I wish I were. This success will ruin me as sure as hell. It probably won’t last, and that will be all right. I’ll try to go on with work now. Just a stint every day does it. I keep forgetting.”

    But in another, he picked himself up:

    “I’ll get the book done if I just set one day’s work in front of the last day’s work. That’s the way it comes out. And that’s the only way it does.”

  9. What we are writing now may not be the same as what we will write in 10 years, 5 years, 1 month, or even tomorrow. We are constantly shifting, tipping back and forth in various dimensions of fluidity. Maybe, nothing is better than recording and being able to see how we evolve in this beautifully ragged journey we call life.

How about the cons of journaling then? Well, it’s a task that requires time, time that most people would rather spend otherwise. It also requires resources such as notebooks, pens, or electricity (in case you do it on electronic devices). Another issue from journal writing (which I am experiencing) is that writing becomes too addictive until what I write does not hold true anymore. Strong convictions, written down become mere marks on a crisp page of paper. I write and write and write, and never seem to get anything done! I guess, I’m just experiencing one of the motivation fall not unlike the one Steinbeck faced.

I guess the answer is pretty clear that journaling is definitely a worthy habit to form. How? Read how to write a journal here!

References:

Let’s Not Travel

As most schools signal the end of a semester, and send out their caged, drained-out students into the world again, I notice most of the people around me are making plans to go here and there, wishing to be off wandering around the world.

tumblr_nmssphwczq1rsm369o1_500The “hippy wanderer” trope has been spreading around the world for many years, and is hitting hard on Cambodia. Young people, like me, can never wait for a chance to take a break to be sitting in a midst of a sea breeze, or lost in the multi-colored sights of a strange new place. I’ve been in this trope since the day I earned my first month of salary. In fact, my dream, at one point, was to travel the world. Countless attempts and a huge percentage of my pay check have been used so that I could taste a new dish, meet a new face, and see a new sight in another place. That is, until I came upon this quote from Bertrand Russell in his book, The Conquest of Happiness:

220px-bertrand_russell_in_1924

“Those who can afford it are perpetually moving from place to place, carrying with them as they go gaiety, dancing and drinking, but for some reason always expecting to enjoy these more in a new place.”

It certainly hit home. Why did I seek to go to Hoi An, Vietnam to sit in one of its numerous coffee shops and expected to enjoy it more than my old favorite café in Phnom Penh, Cambodia?

Doubts started to creep into my mind regarding my innate desire to be always on the move.

I had to stop planning my break-vacation to Laos, and spend some time thinking it through. Is it worth it? To spend time and energy travelling instead of say, pursue writing or creative painting at home? Thus, my researching journey starts, and here is what I found.

First of all, let’s take a closer look at the main (quite obvious) stated benefits of travelling, the ones that I had 100% confidence in just a few days ago. There is no doubt that travelling is beneficial. I have no doubt you have read and actually realized the transformational power of a good adventurous travel. People often cite knowledge or experience as the number one gain from travelling to a new place. Let’s take an even closer look at it. The researches cited are from a literature review conducted by Matthew J. Stone and James F. Petrick (2013).

There are three main types of knowledge that are cited to be earned from travelling, and they include:

  1. Intellectual growth:

blonde-book-coffee-cozy-favim-com-3343355

The number one reason many young people travel is to extend their own bank of knowledge. Research seems to back this up as Chieffo (2007) found out that 85% of exchange students learned new information about political/social issues, people, geography, history and culture of another country even in a short-term study abroad. It seems true enough. We learn some pretty interesting facts along the way of our travel.

  1. Personal growth

Perhaps one of the most important reasons for travelling is that people, the young ones especially, believe travelling can make them a better person, more-equipped to take on the world, and they are not wrong in their beliefs. Lasubscher’s (1994) study found that both objective and objective-less travel lead to personal development, new perspectives, autonomy, independence, self confidence and many other generic skills.

  1. Cultural appreciation

Cultural tourism is one of the most prominent kinds of tourism. People flock to the Himalayas, Cambodia’s Angkor Wat, or the pyramids of Egypt because they would like a taste of an “exotic” culture. Travelling certainly makes you step out of your normal comfort zone, and living another culture first-hand.tumblr_m480x91rym1rqjtg1o1_500

Now, there’s no doubt being on the go and experiencing new places are a great source of knowledge and experiences that have the potential to transform a person. It makes a very strong case for travelling because some of the educational benefits (such as confidence and autonomy) might never be earned if you go about your daily routines every goddamn day.

However, you can’t just decide to travel the world, and expect to gain a worldly wisdom as a result. According to Kolb (1984), the experiential learning theory holds that a combination of experience perception, cognition and behaviors creates learning.

Screen Shot 2016-07-27 at 2.54.24 PM.png
Fig. 1: Experiential learning theory

Do you know what is a pivotal point of knowledge attainment in in this learning theory? It’s reflection. Without reflecting upon the information you’ve received, you have by no means gained any knowledge. Some young people travel as if they are on a race with the speed of light, always on the move to the next exotic place, rarely stopping to reflect upon what they have seen. That might lead to a lack of reflection that is crucial for conceptualization. You might end the trip with hundred of photos, yet barely hold any memorable lesson from it.

The other benefits of travelling that most people seem to instinctively know is that it positively affects our well-being. Just how true is it? There are two types of well-being, emotional and physical. The researches cited for well-being are from a literature review conducted by Chun-Chu Chen and James F. Petrick (2013).

Now, let’s examine them more closely:

  1. Emotional well-being

Many people would occasionally hop on a plane for a 1-week vacation wishing to burn off the stress they have accumulated from school or work for the past months. That seems reasonable enough. In fact, many researches from de Bloom (2010); de Bloom (2011); Etzion (2003); Westman and Eden (1997) have concluded that travelling can make us better, mentally. Employees report lower level of stress, burn out, and absenteeism after even a short trip. However, there’s a catch here. These researches also found that the positive effects induced by travelling wear off two or three weeks after the trip. In some certain cases, the effects only linger for a few days as employees come back to their “real life”, and try to catch up with the work that has piled up in their absence. It seems that there is not any research that indicates travelling leads to a long-term positive emotional impact.

  1. Physical well-being

Although people seem to perceive that they are in a better shape after a trip, there are not many objective research that finds links between travelling and actual better physical health. The result is still inconclusive.

Now, what to make up with all of these? It seems to conclude that even though there are bursts of happiness we can get from travelling, they may not last that long.

Alright, let’s examine the other side of the argument- the disadvantages of travelling. There is not many research on this topic; therefore, I will use common sense and findings from famous books to make the case instead.

First of all, it’s a known fact that travelling needs money. I know more than a few people who have used more than half of their earning income on travelling (as do I).

It is also physically and emotionally exhausting to be always on your backpack, going from one place to another.

In his book, The Conquest of Happiness, Bertrand Russell says that fatigue is a modern illness. Although, we are working lesser hours than people did in the past, most of us feel like we are perpetually tired. He claims one of the reasons behind such seemingly unexplainable fatigue is the love of excitement.

“A life too full of excitement is an exhausting life, in which continually strong stimuli are needed to give the thrill that has come to be thought an essential part of pleasure.”

It’s darn right travelling gives us excitement. There are always fresh sights, sounds, smells, faces, and fresh acquaintances to be made. It gives us a high. However, when we don’t travel, it makes our real life duller in comparison. What’s wrong with that, you ask? Can’t we just become nomads, jumping from one pleasure to another, exhausting world wonders and never stop? That way, we can always be high. That sounds very tempting, for sure, but if we consider the fact that no great work can be done without us being bored at the job more than half the time, we realize maybe pleasure-seeking is not the sole reason to live life. Look at the great work of human civilization, were they made on the go? Socrates spent most of his life quietly with Xanthippe, and the company of a few close friends. The revolutionary biologist,  Charles Darwin spent the rest of his life in his own house producing the famous book, The Origin of Species, after his trip around the world. Jane Austen, a virgin who rarely travelled, with only her family’s sitting room, and books as her source of inspiration was able to produce masterpieces such as Pride and Prejudice out of her own reflection. These works are the products of dedication, and hours upon hours of grinding until they almost reached perfection. Would they have achieved it if they were always on the go? What would have happened to the Origin of Species if Darwin had spent his entire life travelling around the world?

M0003078 Interior of Charles Darwin study
Darwin’s study in Downe, Kent where he worked for 40 years and died in 1882.

Perhaps, no one knows the pain of overwhelming influx of information during a trip than a travel writer. In his book, The Art of Stillness, the famous travel writer, Pico Iyer concludes that only by going nowhere can one really achieve a deeper sense of appreciation. He has been to every corner of the world, yet, he still advocated for people to stop, take a step back, and look at the big picture instead of getting flooded with all the sights and smells of the travel.

75520

“It’s the perspective we choose- not the places we visit- that ultimately tells us where we stand. Every time I take a trip, the experience acquires meaning and grows deeper only after I get back home and sitting still, begin to convert the sights I’ve seen into lasting insights.”

(Watch his TED talk on the subject here)

These ideas also make perfect sense with the experiential learning theory. One can make sense of one’s experiences, and thoughts and consequently create beautiful conclusions and work only after reflection, sometimes for days, months, or even years. To be constantly moving from one place to another make us shallowly taste the milk of life because we’ve only got so much time to churn our reflections before the next feast of senses start.

So, what is the point of this post? I just want you, my readers, to ask yourself as you are planning your next trip to this island or that country what the purpose of your trip is. Stress release? Sightseeing? Making new friends? Adrenaline rush? Self transformation? Or are you just running away from your problems, just to face them yet again when they come back? Are you doing it for an awesome Instagram post so that people can be jealous of your perfect life? Is your purpose worthy of such time, energy and capital resources? Will the happiness you get from such trip be long lasting? Or will you have to set out again when the high comes off? If you feel like you are perpetually stuck in this cycle of pleasure seeking, consider reading the famous Flow: the Psychology of Optimal Experience by Mihaly Csikszentmihalyi, or The Conquest of Happiness by Bertrand Russell which seeks to give us a better way of finding a longer-lasting state of happiness. Hint, hint: travelling helps, but not very much.

Also, take a look at this beautiful poem.

1918c475385dcbef68f2ffc6e20829ed

All the researches mentioned here can be found at the “references” section of these two journals:

Chen, C., & Petrick, J. (2013). Health and wellness benefits of travel experiences: a literature review. Journal of Travel Research, 52 (6), 709-719. Doi: 10.1177/0047287513496477

Stone, M., & Petrick, J. (2013). The educational benefits of travel experiences: a literature review. Journal of Travel Research, 52 (6), 731-744. Doi: 10.1177/0047287513500588