Travelling has tons of well-known benefits, like making new friends, gaining new experience and creating new memories to name a few. But there’s a lesser known benefit of travelling that some scientists are studying… Travel helps creativity!
Recent studies by some scientists have found a strong correlation between travelling and creativity! Yes you heard it right. Scientific studies are saying that travelling can make you more creative. Another reason to let the travel bug bite you.
Mark Twain said that –
Travel is fatal to prejudice, bigotry, and narrow-mindedness, and many of our people need it sorely on these accounts. Broad, wholesome, charitable views of men and things cannot be acquired by vegetating in one little corner of the earth all one’s lifetime.
And recent studies seem to prove him right.
Foreign experiences increase both cognitive flexibility and depth and integrativeness of thought, the ability to take deep connections between disparate forms. The key, critical process is multicultural engagement, immersion, and adaptation. Someone who lives abroad and doesn’t engage with the local culture will likely get less of a creative boost than someone who travels abroad and really engages in the local environment
Cognitive flexibility is the mind’s ability to jump between different ideas and this is a key component of creativity.
With travel comes new sounds, smells, languages, tastes, sensations and sights and all these spark different synapses in your brain, helping in building new connections and rewiring your brain. The farther you travel from your home the more creative you become! Don’t believe me? then you can refer to the 2009 study done by Professor Adam Galinsky at the Kellogg School of Management and INSEAD, where they say
Knowing that experiences abroad are critical for creative output makes study abroad programs and job assignments in other countries that much more important, especially for people and companies that put a premium on creativity and innovation to stay competitive
But how exactly does this happen? There are different factors in play, which when combined in the right manner, help boost a traveller’s creativity.
Open-Mindedness: Travelling makes you more open-minded as you meet new people and come across new situations. This enables your brain to make new connections and new synapses get working. This new wiring of your brain helps you come up with new, different and creative solutions to the problems you face in your daily life. Jonah Lehrer the author of Imagine has beautifully summarised how travelling helps make you open-minded. He says,
The experience of another culture endows the traveller with a valuable open-mindedness, making it easier for him or her to realize that a single thing can have multiple meanings.
Innovation: Travelling makes you more innovative. But this innovation comes with a catch. You need to really immerse yourself into the culture and country you are visiting. Merely going somewhere for a weekend, will not make you more innovative. Innovation comes to you when you choose to interact with the locals of your chosen destination. Stay with them, adopt their culture, learn their language, try their foods and customs. The more you interact with the locals and immerse yourself in the local culture the stronger an innovative and creative boost you receive. So when in Rome, learn and do as the Roman’s do!
Self- Confidence: Apart from boosting your creativity, travelling also helps strengthen your sense of self. Mary Helen Immordino-Yang, an associate professor of education and psychology at the University of Southern California, says
What a lot of psychological research has shown now is that the ability to engage with people from different backgrounds than yourself, and the ability to get out of your own social comfort zone, is helping you to build a strong and acculturated sense of your own self.
This strengthened sense of self, provides you with the self-confidence required to go out of your comfort zone when trying to solve problems. Allowing you to bring to the table more creative solutions and ideas.
Think outside the box: Last but not least, travelling helps you ‘think outside the box’. A 2012 study done by researchers of Tel Aviv University found that people who “believe that racial groups have fixed underlying essences”, beliefs the authors termed “essentialist views”, performed significantly worse in creative tests than those who saw cultural and racial divisions as arbitrary and malleable.
This categorical mind-set induces a habitual closed-mindedness that transcends the social domain and hampers creativity.
What this means in simple words is that people who put other people of different gender/culture in specific boxes have difficulty thinking out of the box. Here’s how travelling comes into play in this. When you travel, you meet different people and experience different cultures, and this allows you to recognise that most people treat you in the same way. You develop trust in people and start seeing them more as individuals akin to you. This allows you to look at people out of the box and this in turn allows your thinking to become more creative translating into ease of thinking out of the box for you!
So travelling sure seems to be an excellent way to get over that writer’s block, painter’s block or simply to give your creative instincts a boost! Pack your bags and head off to the next travel adventure; it won’t only nourish your soul, but your mind too!
Author: Lysha works at Lalco Residency – Hotel Mumbai and she loves her job. Helping clients and monitoring the progress of business strategies along with her leadership skills makes her perfect suit for Hospitality services. You can catchup with Lysha at executive homes serviced apartments.