I’m leaving in two weeks for a three-month adventure. My plan is to visit the Surrealist Miro exhibit at the Tate Modern and then drink in pubs that serve savoury pies with friends in London. Then I’m going to drink excessive amounts of wine and play drunken badminton with family in the south of France. Then I’m going to spend five weeks in a tiny apartment in Paris, trying to get some work done in between wandering around with my mouth full of bread. Then I’m going to work on some stories about the spas and markets in Istanbul. And then I’m going to meet my boyfriend in Tel Aviv for a month of road trips and Israeli wine and sitting on soft sand.
If you’re currently sitting in a cubicle and your closest vacation plans are a weekend in the suburbs with the in-laws, let me just clarify that I’m not telling you all of this to be a jerk. The point is: I am desperately overdue for an adventure. While I’ve been traveling pretty consistently for work over the past couple of years, those trips (while amazing) have been extremely focused and guided and — quite frankly — easy. But every now and then, I need a bit of an adventure. I need a bit of a challenge and a little uncertainty. I know that it doesn’t work for everyone, but it definitely makes me happier — and without it, I gradually become restless and cranky.
Breaking out of your comfort zone takes extra effort, but I’ve always found it worthwhile. It’s too easy to get comfortable and just stay in the same place, on the same couch, and avoid making any progress or learning anything new. I’m aware that taking off for three months, even while working the whole time, is a tremendous luxury. But there are a million ways to nudge oneself out of the ordinary. I once took a French class — a language for which I have no aptitude — and the small amount I learned still thrills me endlessly whenever I have a chance to use it. I recently learned how to make both corned beef and gravlax — so easy and so delicious, and now my body is probably 40-percent salt — and it actually blew my mind that I could do that with my own two hands.
Several studies have suggested that cultivating new experiences and introducing some element of (healthy) excitement into your life can only boost your happiness. So how are you going to do it?