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Saturday, January 20, 2024

Hunt For Happiness Week

Hunt For Happiness Week is almost here. January 21-27th is your time to find and do the things that make you happy. For most of us, a big contributor to that is travel. Whether you travel alone or with friends, you can really up your happiness quotient. Even just the act of planning or booking a trip is helpful to your mental health.

Traveling rewires our brains. It's a great way to gain knowledge through action instead of books. Not that reading isn't awesome, it is, and I encourage you to read anything you can get your hands on that sounds interesting, but travel is immersive education. Here are just some of the ways it gives us a mental boost:

It makes you more creative and accepting of new ideasThis includes food, culture, traditions, and history.

It challenges us - By having to deal with new circumstances and adapt to new situations, we expand our skills and mind.

It creates better bonds - If you travel with others, experiencing new things together can build better relationships, even if things don't always go as planned.

It pushes you meet new people - Meeting and connecting with new people allows you to realize that we're all people just making it in the world and we aren't all that different from each other and can promote empathy and compassion, which brings us to the next on the list:

It promotes tolerance - When we see how other people live, and we have to experience it, too, we become more tolerant and accepting of differences and other ways of living. Diversity is a great thing and people who travel learn that better than those that don't.

It creates new memories - Having wonderful memories to look back on gives us a happy. Sometimes, when I'm feeling meh, and I remember something cool that happened or look back on a particular vacation, I feel myself perk up a bit, knowing I'll have more of those moments.

It expands your palette - There are endless opportunities to try new foods and drinks when you travel. You may find some new favorites, and if you don't, at least you were adventurous enough to try it.

It releases stress - You have your day-to-day routine of work, sleep, eat, repeat. When you worry about any of those things, you hold stress in your body. Travel allows you to release that and makes you calmer by thrusting you into a new routine. Less stress means you reduce your risk of heart attack and anxiety. 

It helps you appreciate different things - If you feel like you don't love where you live, or even if you do, traveling to a different landscape can help you appreciate your home city more, but also enjoy new weather and scenery.

It prioritizes experiences over things - As we age, we find that experiences are much more important than the things we've bought along the way. The more I travel, the less I care about souvenirs, though I buy an ornament for my tree everywhere I go, so my holidays are a lot more exciting with vacation memories every time I decorate and look at my tree.

It builds self-confidence - The more you travel, the easier it gets dealing with situations that are foreign to us. We learn to navigate public transportation, we learn new words, we learn to order off different menus. I'm always proud when I find myself in a new situation and am able to handle it and persevere, especially if I am traveling solo. 

In Ecuador, Eric and I bought matching wedding bands (which we didn't have for the first 3 years we were married) with minimal Spanish from a lovely little family-owned jewelry shop. Now, I can remember that achievement every time I look at my finger.

It helps you learn more about yourself - Find out where your strengths and weaknesses are and work on them. My strengths are planning out a great day and making the most of things if something goes wrong. Eric's strengths are navigation and having fun no matter what we end up doing. I plan the things and make a schedule and he figures out how to get to those places. It helps me know that I need to focus on getting around better when I travel on my own.

It gives you something to talk about - When you travel, other people who like to travel want to hear about it and swap stories. You get ideas from them and they get ideas from you, helping you both plan better trips in the future. It also makes you a better conversationalist, I think.

Well, there you have it, a long list of why travel is important for your happiness. I hope you have some travel planned for the year or you are at least planning a future trip which you may or may not have dates for, because your mental health benefits from having something to look forward to. Go to new places, eat all the foods, do cool things, take a ton of pictures, and meet awesome people. Now, go forth and hunt for happiness this week.

What things make you happy? Tell us below. It doesn't have to be travel, though I'd love to hear your favorite destinations. Coffee and dogs make me happy.

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