September 16, 2019

The pursuit of happiness: Forget material wealth, say hello to transformative travel

Words by Samantha Smith
Travel Better

Scientists from Cornell University have found that travelling makes you much happier and for longer than material wealth.

You’ve likely heard this narrative before and perhaps thought “Duh, obviously”, or maybe you’ve been more doubtful in your views, citing wealth as a vehicle “to have whatever you want anyway” – but what does the science say?

Sure, going shopping, of course, can bring us happiness, albeit, for a short period of time. But after a few days, weeks or months, we end up craving more while the thrill of the new material product fades.

TTCTW - Happiness

Thomas Gilovich, a psychology professor at Cornell University, has revealed that people experience the same amount of happiness when making a purchase they really want to when they travel.

But here’s the important bit, while the happiness derived from a purchase reduces over time, the memories of travelling experiences supply you with long-lasting happiness hormones for your entire life.

Why? Because experiences shape you; they are a part of your identity. Your richest and most cherished moments are a combination of the life experiences you’ve had along the way.

TTCTW - Happiness

Why is travelling so good for you?

Travelling allows you to see the world from new perspectives; to experience different cultures and to immerse yourselves in new destinations.

When you travel, everything feels more enriching. It gives you the opportunity to become completely present as your mind busily absorbs new information.

That ‘disconnection’ from your normal surroundings offers an extraordinary environment for creating happy and lasting memories.

The memories you create become a sustainable source of happiness. So, if you invest your hard-earned money in experiences, you’ll be investing in your long-term happiness and satisfaction. (That’s a good enough reason to book that trip to Peru you’ve been dreaming about, right?)

TTCTW - Happiness
TTCTW - Happiness

What are the positive impacts of travelling?

It’s simple! The more you travel, the more open-minded you generally become. And the more you connect with people you wouldn’t necessarily cross paths with, the more understanding and insight you’ll gain.

The results from a study at Harvard University, reveal that individuals who are most connected to other people were the healthiest and happiest.

When you infuse your life with travel and connection, not only do you become happier on a holistic level, you also expand your knowledge and compassion on a global scale.

Despite all our seeming differences as people, these kinds of personal encounters bring us all together.

“You are human, I am human, We are all human and the more you listen and share your story, the more that enables you to feel that you part of something bigger.”

How can you travel to change the world?

Congratulations! By reading this post and taking some of these insights on board, you’ve already made a difference.

Now you can easily create your impact by sharing your newfound knowledge with other friends who you think would also be interested.

Ultimately, responsible travel comes down to common sense – stay curious, keep yourself up-to-date with the challenges at hand and make yourself accountable for your actions on your travels.