“…adapting to foreign cultures facilitates creativity.”
In a world of constant change, where one in seven UK workers are self-employed, where the technology of a phone is out of date in six months, where lives are less centered on a small community of support and more on a massive net of remote connections and information, we need our creativity.
We need our creativity for problem solving, adapting to new situations and critically integrating information. We need it to deal with constant change, whatever that change may be.
Travel can help.
Increase Creativity: a Great Excuse to Travel
If, as Sir Kenneth Robinson suggests, schools are killing our creativity, then how do we get it back?
This is where this post’s title connects to the content… Research is suggesting that travel and the way it requires us to adapt to foreign cultures improves creativity. In When in Rome … Learn Why the Romans Do What They Do: How Multicultural Learning Experiences Facilitate Creativity researcher Adam D. Galinsky found that
… living in and adapting to foreign cultures facilitates creativity. The current research investigated whether one aspect of the adaptation process—multicultural learning—is a critical component of increased creativity. Experiments 1-3 found that recalling a multicultural learning experience: (a) facilitates idea flexibility (e.g., the ability to solve problems in multiple ways), (b) increases awareness of underlying connections and associations, and (c) helps overcome functional fixedness.
So, should anyone question your decision to travel, you have a response: to increase your creativity and your ability to excel at home.
Let’s examine this perfect excuse to travel.
How Travel Increases Creativity
For a More Creative Brain, Travel is the title of a recent article in The Atlantic. Columnist Brent Crane concludes that “creativity is related to neuroplasticity, or how the brain is wired. Neural pathways are influenced by environment and habit, meaning they’re also sensitive to change: New sounds, smells, language, tastes, sensations, and sights spark different synapses in the brain and may have the potential to revitalize the mind.”
According to the research, the key to travel and creativity is the multicultural experience. To go and lie on a beach at a resort may be exactly the type of vacation you need but it will not do as much to increase your creative powers as living with a local in the same area would.
As a solo traveler, without the distraction of a travel companion, you can connect more directly with a local culture. You alone will have to figure out how things work. Then you, solo traveler, will have the time to mull on these things and research why they work the way they do. To increase your creativity, you can:
- Take a cooking class in the home of a typical mother in India.
- Mix with locals in places like 930 Blues Cafe in Jackson, Mississippi on the Blues Highway.
- Figure out how the local train system works in Italy.
- Be inspired by travelers from all over the world by staying in a hostel dorm.
- Discover colorful cultures like Valparaiso, Chile and learn why they are so.
- Listen to the sounds of a call to prayer in Jordan, the chatter of women preparing the evening meal in Pushkar, India or just appreciate a New York accent.
- Learn new creative skills while exploring new cultures.
Yes, traveling solo may intensify the potential for travel to increase creativity.
The science is with you. You have a great excuse to travel.
And Yet, I’m on Staycation
I guess I’m writing this post because I’m in mourning. Light mourning to be sure, but, all the same I’m mourning the loss of travel. I’m on staycation. My circumstances dictate it. You may be facing a similar situation for there are dozens of reasons why travel may not make sense at certain times of life.
With no control group I won’t be able to test my staycation’s effect on my creativity. However, I will see parts of my city that I have not yet explored. My task for today is to celebrate my opportunity to see Toronto, a destination city, with a visitor’s eyes.
I’ll be reporting on my success (or lack of it) over the next few weeks.