Have you ever gone on a vacation and come home feeling like a completely different person? You don't know exactly what happened to you while you were traveling, but you came home a different person. You feel more inspired. You feel capable of creating positive change. You have a completely new outlook on life itself. I guess we can call this the "travel high." Most of us avid travelers are familiar with this feeling, but we know it's usually fleeting.
Were on our high for a week or two, if we lucky, and then something brings us back to our old reality. Were back to feeling stressed at our jobs. Were back to using our old coping mechanisms. Were back to getting into arguments with our partners. And the only moments of our days we feel alive is when were searching for the latest deals on TravelZoo so we can escape it all again.
I can't be the only one right?
After I came back from my trip to Europe earlier this year, I knew something had changed inside of me. I had never felt so alive and inspired in my life. I was making huge life decisions before I even stepped off the return flight home. I was on my travel high for a couple weeks and then, all too suddenly, "reality" set in. I found myself doubtful of those decisions I had made. I wondered "What was I thinking making that decision?" "Who did you think you are taking changes like that?"
I had all of this doubt and negativity slowly start to creep back in and it completely drained my energy and creativity. The only thing I could look to in order to get my inspiration back was to book another trip. And so, here I am, in California, one week away from my adventure to Bali.
Since I've arrived on the West Coast, I've really started wondering what is actually creating this "travel high." Don't get me wrong, the world is a beautiful place, and I believe that we all need to dedicate the time to submerge ourselves in other cultures. But, I know there's more to it than that. There is some serous psychological shifts happening in our brains when we travel that create this sense of euphoria.
And here's what I've come to the conclusion of...
The reason we feel amazing when we travel. The reason were able to cultivate new behaviors and ways of thinking. The reason were able to be inspired and open ourselves up to new expereineces.
The reason is....we don't know any better.
And when I say we, I mean our brains. Our brains have never been in that particular environment or situation before. Meaning, our brains are requiring conscious attention to think new thoughts, make new decisions, and feel new feelings during every moment of our trip, simply because, it has no back up programming to resort to.
Think about it like this....when you're in your home environment, your brain is already well-adept to your processes of thoughts, emotions, and behaviors. When you go to your job, your brain knows what tasks to complete. Your brain knows how you feel about your boss. Your brain is trained to think "I can't wait to go home" at 4PM and "Why does no one value my opinion" when you don't receive an invite to a brainstorming meeting. Because you've done it before. You've been in this environment before.
Our environment is a mere perception of our brain. And if our environment never changes, our brains don't need to remain conscious to change the thoughts, feelings, and behaviors associated with that environment. Our brains like to stay comfortable in the old thinking patterns and behaviors we have created with repetition in our usual environment.
Now, I know what you're thinking....
Well, what are we supposed to do then? Travel all year long?
I wish. But, there's actually a more realistic way to go about recreating this "travel high" in your day to day experience without leaving your zip code.
You don't need to change your environment. You need to change your perception of your environment.
You need to wake up everyday and commit to a practice of rising above your human body's experience to become aligned with your conscious mind and decide how you'd live to perceive your environment. (Cough, cough...meditation).
When you let yourself slip into the deep realms of meditation, wherein your body is asleep, but your mind is awake... you become the programmer, not the program. You get to decide and visualize what you want your experience and environment to look like. This isn't whimsical thinking. This is the science of neurology.
You can literally wake up everyday and decide how you want to feel, how you want to behave, and what you want to accomplish that day. You can visualize new relationships, new surroundings, and a new perspective on life and literally let it flow to you on a day-to-day basis. Because every day is a new day. Everyday is a new experience.
The more you cling to to your perceptions about your life and your environment, the more you cling to your negative behaviors, anxiety, and limiting beliefs. By taking no action to perceive your life differently, you're actively stunting your own happiness and potential.
You don't need to escape the country to break bad habits, feel better about yourself, or get inspired by life. You need to escape your brain's conditioning. You need to escape your hard-wired perceptions on your environment. And if you can understand this concept intellectually, you can create a life full of "travel highs" without leaving your apartment.
Now, travel serves a multitude of other benefits, which I'll write about more in the future. But, for now, I wanted to introduce this concept of changing your perception around your environment so you can start releasing tensions, feeling inspired, and creating positive change in your life today....not when you take your next vacation.