Travel And Exploration Spark Happiness, Study Suggests

Travel And Exploration Spark Happiness, Study Suggests

There’s not much we can do now, given current restrictions and limitations. But we can start to dream and maybe even plan…

via Forbes by Joni Sweet

Ever wonder why racking up those passport stamps makes you feel so invigorated?

Or why you’ve been feeling so down while stuck at home during the pandemic?

A new study has found a previously unknown link between filling your days with diverse, novel experiences—anything from exploring a new neighborhood in your city to taking a cross-country road trip—and enhanced happiness and wellbeing. 

What’s more, the research shows that there may be other ways you can boost your bliss when travel is out of the question. Here’s what the science says about the connection between joy and exploration. 

The relationship between travel and happiness

For a study published by the journal Nature Neuroscience on May 18, 2020, researchers from New York University, Columbia University and the University of Miami collected data on 132 people in New York City and Miami for three to four months prior to the COVID-19 pandemic. The participants, which included 90 women and 42 men, ranged in age from 18 to 31 years old. 

Participants first went to the laboratory to complete baseline assessments that measured depression and anxiety. Then, researchers asked them to install a geolocation-tracking app on their smartphones and respond to questionnaires about their moods via text messages throughout the study. After the mobile-tracking period, the participants returned to the laboratory to repeat the initial depression and anxiety questionnaires. 

After analyzing the data, researchers found that people tended have more positive emotions, such as “happy,” “excited,” “strong,” “relaxed” and “attentive,” when they visited a variety of places in a day and spent roughly equal proportions of time in those destinations.

Toward the end of the research, about half of the participants also underwent MRI scans so the researchers could see if the connection between exploration and positive emotions had any relationship to the activity within the brain. 

The MRI results demonstrated that a strong association between positive emotions and diverse experiences correlated with activity in the hippocampus and the striatum—the parts of the brain that process novelty and reward. The research echoed the findings of previous studies that found similar results in animals.

“These results suggest a reciprocal link between the novel and diverse experiences we have during our daily exploration of our physical environments and our subjective sense of wellbeing,” said Catherine Hartley, an assistant professor in New York University’s Department of Psychology and one of the paper’s co-authors, via a statement on the research

…keep reading the full & original article HERE

#happiness #positivepsychology #travel #dreams