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Growth through Travel

Journeys of the mind and body are taken so that the self can grow. The self grows through discomfort, by being moved to inquiry and action. Placing oneself in an unfamiliar situation validates this discomfort. Being in a different place affords us a new perspective and unlocks our modus operandi to create change.

From this new perspective or place we can question ourselves and see clearly how we can progress as a human being. We are affected by our immediate environment, at least to some degree. Our thoughts, emotions and actions acquire a routine in our usual place of being or perspective that can make growth stagnate if we become too comfortable.

When we break free from routine, we are allowing our usual thought patterns to take a new form, enabling new thought processes. These new thought processes reveal aspects of ourselves that are hidden in our usual routine. We surprise ourselves by how we think, feel and act when we are away from home. For instance, our memories of holidays that we have taken are savored fondly, as they contrast our usual routine. In many instances our daily routine is containing a part of ourselves that is freer, more real.

When we journey to deliberately place ourselves in novel situations, we are allowing that part of ourselves to grow. That part of us is healthy; it is filled with joy, interest and wonder. These are necessary emotional states to inquire about ourselves and the world around us.

It is healthier to make self-inquiries from within ourselves, but it almost always motivated by our awareness of our environment. If that motivation stems from a positive experience of a novel place or situation, our growth is moving in a healthy direction, one of new places within and without. It is healthier to inquire in the direction of growth and what could be when we do self-work, rather than trying to fix what we think is wrong. A novel environment can stimulate inquiry about novel aspects within us. If our environment and our inner selves are linked, a novel environment could then positively affect how we see ourselves.

We might come to the conclusion that the self can grow separately from our environment. If a new environment to which we have no connection can stimulate this growth, perhaps the environment can be seen as a blank slate from which we can make unbiased inquiries about our inner selves. Our usual environment invites repeated stimuli that act on our habit-forming mechanism, thus linking our inner states to it in order to operate more efficiently there. Our usual environments may hinder our growth in this way because our habits take time to change, and if there is no change in our environment then this change can take longer to accomplish. A dissonance may exist between remaining in routine and doing well and changing and excelling.

So if we travel to new places, we notice how nothing there is like it is at home, except for our inner selves. We notice that if we change from within, that part of us is always there no matter where we are. We can take this new place within us home, and if we become aware of ourselves we do not need to revert to old habits and routine. Lasting change can and does happen, as long as we notice where that change has come from. Our world opens up, and because it opens up from within the whole world around us does too, no matter where we are.

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Growth through Travel

Chris Doyle

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APA Reference
Doyle, C. (2018). Growth through Travel. Psych Central. Retrieved on November 24, 2020, from
Scientifically Reviewed
Last updated: 8 Jul 2018 (Originally: 8 Jan 2016)
Last reviewed: By a member of our scientific advisory board on 8 Jul 2018
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