Challenges in Travel Help You and Your Patients

October 24, 2011

Last year during our second trip to Chile I was sitting in the Hotel Casa Higueras overlooking Valparaiso’s harbor reading Bill Burnett’s Advantage. The sun was rising just to my right lighting up the line of huge ships waiting their turn to dock. The sky was clear, blue and full of possibility. Mr. Burnett wrote that information can be stored in varied ways but knowledge comes only from human beings. I had never seen that difference.

Knowledge. Innovation. Novel approaches to solving problems. How are we to optimize the development of our capacity to operate in new ways? Is travel – or more to the point – setting up the conditions to experience, to live with, novelty – useful for promoting cognitive flexibility? Can it teach us, give us more knowledge of the ways of the world? Can that help our brain functioning? There is good evidence that learning increases the complexity of neuronal networks, adding processing power for dealing with life’s ups and downs.

Several years ago, during my first trip to South America, we were separated from our luggage during a strike at Sao Paolo airport. I was overwhelmed by catastrophic fantasies. I was certain that I would not have my medication, not to mention my clothing. But we had a surprisingly good time we in Sao Paolo, a city I would never have planned to visit. We spoke no Portuguese but a wonderful hotel concierge and many other store clerks went out of their way to assist us. What I had predicted to be awful turned out to be a magical Christmas holiday. I learned that what at first looked terrible turned out just fine.

On this current trip a year later, a departure delay out of O’Hare caused us to miss a connecting flight in Miami, once again becoming separated from our luggage, I reacted much differently. So what? Yes, there are inconveniences but the nice lady at the airport reassured me that the bags would arrive later in the day and she would have them delivered to our hotel as soon as possible. I figured we’d work things out some how. The bags arrived a few hours after we were settled in our room. We got on with a marvelous adventure in Chile. I was able to lean on the lessons I had learned during the previous trip.

How can you challenge your brain today? As I wrote in the E-Book offered on this website, be a good example for your patients by taking excellent care of yourself. Encourage them to do the same to optimize their treatment. Get plenty of exercise, have a healthy diet, optimize your BMI, and as the theme of this short piece suggests – travel, allow for novel experiences and challenges.

Our patients benefit from working with us beyond our standard treatment modalities. Take this seriously. Fixing your patients’ problems quickly and thoroughly will help your practice grow.

Please leave a comment regarding your favorite methods for cutting through the routine, adding the spice of newness to your life and pumping up BDNF for your  and your patients’ brains. Don’t know about BDNF? You really should.

  1. Treadmill December 2, 2011 Reply

    I suggest adding a "google+" button for the blog!

  2. Phyllis Goldberg, Ph.D. December 14, 2011 Reply

    When my husband and I retired from our practices 10 years ago, we spent three months at a time over a two year period doing volunteer work and traveling in Asia, Africa and South America.

    I've since hung up my shingle again and couldn't agree more - what I learned from those travel experiences not only enriched my life but changed how I work.

    • admin December 14, 2011 Reply

      Thank you so much for taking the time to leave a comment.
      My wife and I are leaving Christmas Eve Day for our third trip
      to Chile. We'll explore a bit of Patagonia this time.
      I always come back changed just a bit.
      Thanks again,

  3. michelle December 15, 2011 Reply

    Hi, I enjoyed your blog post and agree that self nurture time is crucial for remaining in practice! I personally love to spend time in nature and travelling to new places, opening up my senses and stimulating my curiosity. I am lucky to live in one of the most beautiful places on earth..... New Zealnd. I'm certain that engaging with these aspects of my life more and more fully will nourish me as i seek to serve others as you do.
    Thanks for sharing

    • William Lynch December 19, 2011 Reply

      Hi Michelle,
      Thanks so much for leaving a comment.
      New Zealand is definitely on our travel wish list,
      but we are headed back to Chile for the holidays.
      We love that country.
      Thanks again for writing,

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