Deep human connection, strong relationships and positive social engagement are critical for human survival. From boosting our happiness and mood, decreasing stress to improving brain health, true human connection is pertinent for overall wellness.

Most of us are striving to experience this- to forge new friendships and relationships, to maybe, learn something from others as we venture through different life endeavors. Kira Graves, a renowned psychologist, and travel enthusiast, says that traveling has the power to maximize human connection, more often resulting in improved well-being.

Through the last decade, Kira Graves has traveled to more than 35 countries around the world. She went stick fishing with local fishermen in Sri Lanka, ate traditional meals, such as cricket and scorpion in Vietnam and baked “lavash” in underground ovens of Armenia. During her travel moments, Kira Graves convinced her mind to be receptive to experiences and interactive moments.

She also tries to forget that she is an entrepreneur, leadership coach and counselor, undertakings that have built on her reputation over the years as a reliable individual. Traveling is an opportunity for her to partially cut off from the reality of life but most importantly, forge new human connections that are not inherently linked to her professional realms.

Traveling has taught Kira Graves to become less judgmental and more empathetic mostly when interacting with new people. Once while visiting Singapore, her hotel reservation was incorrect and she sat in the hallway of the premises trying to make sense of the situation, and suddenly, a stranger started talking with her. It was during this frustrating time that her patience, compassion, and flexibility were tested.

She was talking to a stranger but still, open minded and receptive to this new experience. Interestingly, the person was going through the same predicament and simply wanted to pass time through dialogue. During this time, she was able to further explore being less judgmental and empathetic.  

Kira also remembers going to a private island in Columbia. The tour bus was filled with people she had never met or interacted with. As the journey to the island started, she began hearing compelling stories from other travelers. It was so easy for many of them to connect with each other, and this fascinated her.

She heard happy and sad stories, and with each narration, the bond between the travelers became stronger. Kira Graves learned the power of active listening during this trip. She was surrounded by fascinating people who shared life experiences and all she wanted was to discern the information they were conveying, and possibly use it to make herself a better person.

For Kira Graves, human connection is not simply about meeting someone or spending time with someone. A true connection is formed when a part of us feels better about a particular culture, person, or experience, which in turn, makes us feel better about ourselves. Despite this fact, she also knows too well that some people prefer traveling within a bubble, and they have a choice to move beyond the bubble and to feel human once again.

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