What I Learned During 24 Hours in Dublin
In 2016, my husband Doug and I landed in Dublin and had 24 hours to explore the city without a car.
I’m typically a super-planner when it comes to travel. I pore over guidebooks, search the internet for “must see” places and plan every step — before we get there.
But this time was different. I hadn’t done my homework. I can’t recall now exactly why this happened. But rather than waste time talking to our hotel concierge, we decided to get out and wander.
And before too long, a street sign drew us into the Trinity College library. What an awe-inspiring place! There are floor-to-ceiling books and an impressive sculpture-lined Long Hall stretching over 200-feet. But the highlight here by far is the gorgeous Book of Kells.
We quickly learned the Book of Kells is a hand-lettered, richly-illustrated version of the New Testament, created by monks in the 9th century A.D. The monks painstakingly wrote and drew on calf-skin pages, turning out stunning stylized drawings with intensely colored inks drawn from nature. It’s no surprise this book is one of Ireland’s greatest treasures!
I’m sure the element of surprise played into my sense of delight. I felt like we’d “discovered” something on our own. Weren’t we cool…lol?
[I guess if we were really cool, we would have headed straight to the Guinness Storehouse for a pint instead, but we’re a little nerdy.]
Being Spontaneous is Good for us
We discovered more than the Book of Kells during our short time in Dublin. We visited Saint Patrick’s Cathedral, which is a striking and rich repository of 800 years of history. We wandered by all the iconic colorful doorways that just make you smile. And we grabbed dinner at a boisterous pub with lively fans cheering a local soccer match, instead of staring down at their phones. It was fun!
One of my most important discoveries in Dublin, however, was the realization that being spontaneous has all kinds of perks. It doesn’t come naturally to me, so I have to force myself to be spontaneous every now and then.
Where do you fall on the spontaneity spectrum? Do you stick with routines or habits because they feel safe…or are you one of those people who gets a tattoo at 3:00 a.m….because it seemed like a good idea at the time?
I think we lost a lot of spontaneity during our year of covid-19 hibernation because so many options were closed to us. Even pre-and post-pandemic, many of us rely on calendar apps to over-schedule our days. Are you with me in trying to re-capture some spontaneity?
First, I scoured the internet to learn more about how being spontaneous is a positive thing for our brains and sense of well-being. Then, I brainstormed a couple of ways to get us started — keep scrolling for that.
How Spontaneity Benefits Us
Here are a couple of thoughts to spur you toward being more spontaneous, even if, like me, it doesn’t come naturally:
- Being more spontaneous improves our problem-solving ability. When you expose yourself to novel experiences, you become better at “free association,” which improves your ability to solve problems.
- It can produce happy hormones — particularly if it leads to happy surprises, like we experienced in Dublin. One explanation says the element of surprise activates our sense of trust, love and joy.
- It boosts our creativity. Because we’re doing something unplanned, social scientists say we’re more apt to draw free associations and in some cases, enter a state of flow.
- It makes us more interesting. When we push ourselves toward new experiences, we have new insights to share. It forces us away from being “routine and predictable.” It can spark fresh conversation and allow us to connect with others in new ways.
- Being spontaneous increases our resilience to life in general. You have to flex that muscle in order to grow it! When you’re spontaneous, you really don’t know what to expect. It calls for you to live in the moment and react to what’s in front of you.
And now, a few random ways to be more spontaneous:
Now I’d love to hear from you! Where do you fall on the spontaneity spectrum? Does it come naturally or is it something you have to nudge yourself toward? Tell us about the last time you were spontaneous and how it worked out.
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