Who doesn’t love to travel? After a recent move to Hong Kong to pursue an MFA, travel has definitely been on my mind. While the transition hasn’t been as smooth as I would have liked, I do have one consolation to some of my relocation woes: travel is good for the brain. You may have heard that travel improves brain function, or that it is good for the brain, but how and why is it good for the INTJ brain?
There are three reasons that travel is great for the INTJ brain.
Travel is great for your Ni (Introverted Intuition)
While it might be common knowledge that travel promotes a healthy brain, not all travel is created equal. Adam Galinsky, a professor at Columbia Business School, has studied the connection between creativity and international travel. According to Galinsky, immersive experiences in the culture of another country produces an increase in creativity. Before you plan your word tour, however, Galinksy cautions that these experiences should be limited to no more than 2 or 3 countries. Any more, and you risk not getting enough of a deep dive into a culture, thereby limiting the benefits your travel would have produced. This means that your 1 week whirlwind trip visiting tourist sites probably won’t boost your creativity. Instead, to amp your NI to the next level, spend the time necessary to learn and interact with a culture, and with people from that culture. This is, of course, exactly what the INTJ introverted intuition needs. The NI is fed new data, and must establish new data points. The external data model is examined and reshaped to fit new knowledge. Once this occurs, INTJs can add to their possibilities web, identifying new strategies for problem solving, and/or new ways of thinking for creative endeavors.
Travel is great for Fi (Introverted Feeling)
Research from Mary Helen Immordino-Yang, the Associate Professor of Education and Psychology at the University of Southern California, suggests that travel increases a sense of self. When you interact with people and cultures different than your own, you are forced to evaluate your identity, your sense of self, and the foundations for your identity; which, in turn, reinforces your identity. Because INTJs are introverted feelers their sense of self if not only strong, it is important. Though INTJs do not like to indulge our emotions, it doesn’t mean that we don’t have them. Moreover, INTJs sometimes use emotions we have experienced as reference points to understand others. This isn’t as easy as it sounds. INTJs prefer to connect based on areas for which we have an interest or passion, or skill, but interacting with others from a different culture forces us to throw away a model that isn’t working, and to find other solutions for understanding. To do this, it’s important to move past self-erected barriers. The mental gymnastics of (1) Trying to find solutions; and (2) Dismantling barriers to cultural understanding act as a driving force in strengthening an ability to make connections through FI.
Travel is great for introversion
Anyone who has studied introversion as a part of personality knows that introversion isn’t static. It is a tendency, but it can fluctuate. Moreover, introversion IS NOT abnormal, nor is it a bad thing. Still, according to researchers J. Zimmerman, and F.J. Neyer, travel can alleviate some of the negative traits that are sometimes related to introversion disorders (or personality disorders that have a component of introversion). What they’ve found is that for students traveling abroad (not just introverts, but both introverts and extroverts) show signs of increased agreeableness and openness, with a decrease in neuroticism. Being in a foreign environment forces you to respond differently. In essence you must make an effort to understand the environment, and to get along in the environment. If you find yourself getting too comfortable with staying in, to the point where leaving the house seems daunting, it might be time for a vacation. Your brain will thank you.
While there are even more benefits to travel as it related to the brain, these three examples show just how great travel can be for the INTJ brain in particular. So get out and find an adventure. That’s one way to improve your overall well-being, and to also hone your mastermind.