According to a new blog by Quartz, resilience is the most important quality in life.
“Feeling good is all fine and good, but it’s fleeting,” says writer Ephrat Livni. “Learning to deal with difficulty, by contrast, improves your chances of feeling good again. That’s much more useful than clinging to an illusion.
“To be happy, you have to first learn how to be strong,” she continues.
“To pick yourself up after a fall, detach from sadness when you don’t succeed, and find the will to persist instead of getting depressed when things go awry, which they often will.”
Learn resilience with solo travel
The science behind resilience also shows that it is a learned skill. People who are resilient see themselves as orchestrators of their own fate.
They meet the world on their own terms, using whatever skills they have available.
Certain cognitive skills underpin resilience, and they stem from thinking, “I can change the situation, rather than assuming it’s fixed.”
When you travel alone, you are the ultimate master of your own destiny. And you’re forced to come up with novel solutions at every turn.
Exposure to continued stress is hands-down damaging, but solo travel hits the sweet spot in the balance.
Master of your own destiny
The challenges that you might face when you fly solo include things like finding a hotel for the night or getting from A to B when you don’t speak the language.
They’re not usually life-or-death situations but they are demanding enough to put you on your toes.
You might not choose to tackle these moments but the more you put yourself in the firing line for them, the more resilient you become.
“Travelling has brought out a confidence I never knew I had within me,” says travel blogger Absolutely Lucy. ” […] I’ve met so many people who have spoken of the exact same feeling – that feeling of a sudden strength and confidence, that undeniable capability.
“I’ve already learnt so much by relying totally on myself to get from A to B, and then on to C, I’ve had to find my way home from the middle of nowhere by trying to communicate with those who don’t speak English, I’ve had to look after myself when I’m sick. But I’ve done it all and done it well.”
A self-fulfilling prophecy
Resilience – the ability to think positively whatever is thrown at you – is also a self-fulfilling prophecy; something else that comes to the fore when you travel alone.
Read more: Advice from a badass adventurer aged 86
A multitude of research shows that happy people become more satisfied not simply because they feel better, but because they develop the resources for living well.
These people use positive emotion to “produce novel and broad-ranging thoughts and actions”, which in turn help to actualise happy outcomes.
“If you do something that requires a certain amount of strength or independence, you then see yourself as a stronger and more independent person,” notes psychologist Dr. Chloe Carmichael Peet.
“Your behaviour is reinforcing a positive self-esteem. As your self-esteem grows, you start engaging in more independent, self-serving behaviours.”
When you travel alone, you start honing your inner resource muscle. Armed with positive emotion, you take on risks for a happy outcome – which in turn fuels greater positive emotion and greater resilience.
Taking on risk
Whether you’re travelling truly alone or in a group of strangers, the effect on resilience will be the same.
Either way, you’re out of your comfort zone and relying on your own resources (rather than blanketed by the presence of loved ones).
“We had to abseil down one of the highest commercial abseils in the world at Table Mountain. And I was scared to death,” she recalls.
“But because I was with a group of people I didn’t really know, I didn’t want to be seen as a wuss. I did it, and I’m so glad I did, because it was the most amazing experience of my life. I’ll never forget it.”
The Table Mountain abseil pushed Radha to do something she wouldn’t normally do.
She met the world on her own terms, and in doing so, reinforced her ability to bounce back from a seemingly scary situation.
You can do the same.
Happiness comes and goes but resilience is for life.
Top up yours with the simple act of travelling alone.
Photos: Flash Pack and Shutterstock