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  • The poet Lovelle Drachman once said: "Blessed are the curious for they shall have adventures" , which is certainly true of people with wanderlust.

  • Derived from a German word meaning "a love of hiking" and now used to describe that burning, near physical desire to escape the everyday and explore the unfamiliar.

  • An insatiable appetite for travel.

  • Wanderlust is a common, but not universal experience.

  • What makes some people catch that travel bug while others are apparently immune?

  • One theory is to do with our genes.

  • Scientific research has identified a variant of the DRD4 gene.

  • Sounds like a loveable space robot, but it's actually the gene that affects sensitivity to dopamine.

  • The neuro-transmitter often released in the brain when we do something we enjoy.

  • Now, it's not that the 7R version of the DRD4 specifically creates a craving for travel, but people with the 7R variant are less sensitive to that delicious dopamine hit.

  • So simple things that bring other people pleasure, like a jog in the park or a cheeky chocolate binge, might not cut it for them.

  • Which makes those with the 7R type of the DRD4 gene more likely to be risk takers and thrill seekers, going further than most of us, sometimes literally, to get increased dopamine levels.

  • That's why DRD4-7R has been called the "wanderlust gene".

  • The important thing about genes is that they don't determine anyone's personality.

  • All sorts of factors play into that.

  • But given that other research has linked the same 7R variant to far riskier behaviours, such as addiction, a short temper and delinquent behaviour, the irrepressible impulse to go interrailing seems like the better end of the Darwinistic deal.

  • So genetics may come into play when it comes to discerning the wild at heart from the homebodies.

  • But another theory looks at the psychology of living in our modern, interconnected human society.

  • A society in which we are constantly aware of what family, friends and social media influencers are doing.

  • The psychologist Leon Festinger called this "social comparison theory," a theory that was later developed by academics to describe two distinct ways we compare ourselves to other people.

  • Upwards social comparisons, comparing ourselves to those we see as more successful than us.

  • And downward social comparisons, comparing ourselves to those we see as worse off than us.

  • In the age of social media, it's very easy to compare ourselves unfavourably with the idealised version.

  • How can we compete with influencers, with their perfectly tanned legs on immaculate white sand, and their once in a lifetime sunsets over Machu Picchu?

  • #Nofilter

  • #Livingtheirbestlives

  • Whether the motivation to explore the world is genetic, psychological or something else, there are far more harmful hobbies than the desire to explore the world.

  • Venturing outside your comfort zone, to learn about new cultures, meet people you might otherwise never have had the chance to meet, and ultimately learn who you are in different situations.

  • Sounds like a life well-lived.

  • As the novelist Jack Kerouac said...

  • "Because in the end, you won't remember the time you spent in the office or mowing your lawn."

  • "Climb that goddamn mountain."

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The poet Lovelle Drachman once said: "Blessed are the curious for they shall have adventures" , which is certainly true of people with wanderlust.

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B1 US variant gene dopamine theory social influencers

Why do some people have wanderlust - and not others? | BBC Ideas

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    Seraya posted on 2020/04/27
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