This morning I read an excellent article by venture capitalist, Mark Suster, about how Attention Deficit Disorder might actually be a benefit to entrepreneurs. Among many interesting points made, what stuck with me the most was that people with ADD have a hard time committing fully to tasks and people who do not strongly pique and hold their interest.
Then, it dawned on me. My ADD symptoms and restlessness were often sparked by my mind getting lost in memories of being far away. My travels to Paris, DC, Hawaii and Asia were all my go-to memories that distracted me from the disdainful tasks at hand.
Working rigid 50 hour weeks inside an office, staring at a computer screen doesn’t help my symptoms much either. In my most anxiety inducing moments, I slip away to that memory of hiking up to a Buddhist temple in Hanoi or swimming in the ocean in the North Shore. Sometimes I get so lost inside this therapeutic nostalgia that I end up doing what many with ADD do – I leave the last 20% of the task unfinished.
So I decided to do an experiment. Prior to my trip to Vietnam this September, I decided to make a conscious effort to monitor my ADD symptoms while traveling and if they were lessened or heightened during this trip. The results were astounding.
During my Vietnam trip, not once did I feel the characteristic restlessness that plagued my work days. I was able to sit still in tiny restaurants, and hold conversations with mostly anyone without constantly looking around. I woke up in the morning with a plan for the day, and followed through with every task – seeing them all through. For the first time in years, I felt fully cured of the symptoms that had become staples in my life.
Better than any Adderall or synthetic medication, traveling has both contributed to and temporarily cured most of my symptoms. It brings constant excitement along with peace, pleasures along with dangers, and mental stimulation with bouts of extreme calmness. Few things in life offer such a grand and lustrous balance of emotions and for that, I believe traveling is the best medicine of all.