Strand’s world travel changed his perspective on happiness

By Tomas Palmieri

Although many are familiar with psychology teacher Colin Strand as a teacher, what many may not know is that he is also an avid traveler. Strand has visited countries such as China, Vietnam, Indonesia, Taiwan, Malaysia, and Singapore just to name a few. He even stayed in a Buddhist monastery in Tibet for a month. 

After his exploration of the world, Strand entered the classroom, using his experiences as well as his love of questioning the unquestioned to provide engaging and educational experiences for anyone taking his courses.

During Strand’s college studies where he majored in philosophy, he took the opportunity to travel abroad to Tibet in order to stay in a Buddhist monastery for about a month. Here, he was educated specifically about Buddhism, Confucianism, and Daoism while also getting to fully experience the Buddhist monk lifestyle. In class, Strand references his time spent in Tibet in order for students to better visualize certain concepts within the realm of psychology.

“We learned a lot about meditation and that small steps toward self improvement can be attained through deep and purposeful meditative reflection,” Strand said.

When traveling abroad, Strand noticed for the first time entire populations living with an extreme lack of material comfort. Rather than seeing this as a lack of possessions, for Strand these communities highlighted the immense richness of culture and society within each individual he met.

Strand met some of the happiest, most generous, thoughtful, and intelligent people, despite their circumstances. This truly highlights the importance of culture and connectedness when it comes to society as a whole. 

“I think the most important thing I learned was that happiness is not contingent on your environment or what you have. You make your own happiness by putting effort into becoming a better person each day, rather than buying more stuff each day,” Strand said.

After his travel experiences in college, Strand and his wife moved to China, later getting their teaching credentials and moving to Indonesia to teach in an international school. 

But after all of this traveling, what finally pulled Strand to come back to America and teach here?

From a young age he believed teaching to be one of the most important jobs in society, so he knew he wanted to become a teacher after his many years of education. Strand shares his experiences with others to make teaching more engaging, while also continuing to examine untouched aspects of society and himself.

Strand believes traveling has positively impacted and changed him as a person.  Based on his experiences, he recommends others to take these traveling opportunities when they get the chance. 

“I think the fastest way to change as a person is to immerse yourself into a completely different culture because it quickly causes you to question the way you have always done things and to test your own belief system and values. Sometimes they hold up, and sometimes they don’t, but it’s an important process to go through if you want to live with an open mind and consider other ways of thinking, knowing, and being,” Strand said.