Abundant Optimism

Helping people regain and keep an optimistic outlook in challenging circumstances and improve their creativity, mind, and skills.

Improving the Mind Through Travel

by Tamara Martfeld

Last month I gave you some tips to travel inexpensively. Since it is still summer time in my hemisphere, and summer time means vacation time for many, this month I am giving you some tips to improve your mind through travel.

I know, when you take a vacation you want relaxing and recreation activities, not activities to improving yourself. However, you can improve yourself while participating in relaxing and recreation activities. One of the easiest ways to do this is to take your vacation where you have not been before.

Many people always go to the same place every year for their vacation. Pick a new place this year. At the very minimum you will improve your creativity skills by exposing yourself to new surroundings. It is said that the mind takes in every experience you have even if you are not aware of the experience. Listening to the breeze through the trees instead of the crash of ocean waves can help by simply opening the mind to new experiences.

In your vacation location try the local food, especially something you have never had before. One year in South Dakota I tried a fish that was local to the area and fried sweet potatoes (not wide-spread or popular at that time). I enjoyed both. I do my best to try whatever the local specialties are in whatever location I am and have rarely been disappointed. These experience help with your creativity. If you are in the same location as previous years, try new restaurants to gain this experience.

Museums, especially ones dealing with something local, are another way to improve the mind. Depending on the museum you can learn about history, art, the native culture, or even about someone’s unique hobby such as collecting cars, string, or coin-operated machines.

If history is your interest visit the local historical landmarks in the area you are visiting. Even if you are only slightly interested in history this can expand your knowledge and be fun. When visiting Fort McHenry I read about the battle where the Star Spangled Banner was born and realized how much Americans have always acted unexpectedly against those attacking us. I visited the Vicksburg battle field and discovered how different it was to what had been described in school history books. From the descriptions in the books I always thought the Civil War battles were on small spaces about the size of a football field. I was very wrong. Walking the streets of those who made the history brings a new perspective to the history even if you are not a history fan.

Zoos can help you learn about animals not available in your local zoo or area. Many zoos explain what is hurting certain animals and you might be able to change your habits to help prevent an animal’s extinction.

Local places of worship are another place to open your mind. It is an interesting experience to visit a historical house of worship in your own faith. Every now and then you will find something of the history of your faith which is not well-known or only pertained to the building of that particular house of worship. Visiting the house of worship of other faiths is also interesting. Many faiths have similar roots and you can learn something of your own faith from the history of another faith, or more importantly, you can learn enough about that other faith to better understand those of that faith and leave peacefully with them.

Another experience for vacations is the processes of the local commerce. In California and France wineries have tours which explain how wine is made. You do not have to drink the wine or be of drinking age to enjoy the tour. Wineries in other locations may also give tours. Cheese factories in Wisconsin gave tours last time I was there. Some factories give tours such as Budweiser and Jelly Belly. A glass manufacturer in Venice gave tours when I was there a few decades ago – sorry, I do not recall the name. Find out what is made where you are visiting and ask if there is a tour. Some of what you learn can be very interesting and may even help you solve current problems on your job.

If all you want to do on your trip is visit amusement parks, don’t despair. It may not improve the knowledge of the mind, but it can always improve the creativity by opening the mind to new experiences. Rides may be similar to those of other parks, but most parks seem to have a twist or different theme to their rides. Foods may seem the same as every other park, but I have frequently been able to find a food which is unique to the area or that park.

If you cannot find the time or money for a vacation this year, enjoy a “staycation”. This means not leaving your home town and enjoying the amenities your area offers. In many areas there is a lot that can be done within 1 or 2 hours drive or within the city itself. If you are like most people you may have never visited your area like a tourist. I admit that there are still a few museums in my own city I have not yet visited. I remember reading that most people living in New York City have never visited the Statue of Liberty. You can still improve your mind using the same methods above only in your own location.

So there you have it – a few sneaky ways to improve your mind while having fun. Whatever you do, enjoy it and stay safe!