When I hear the word adventure, images of of Indiana Jones trying to outrun an enormous boulder in Raiders of the Lost Ark, or McGyver creating a “Rocket Thruster” out of a flare gun to escape a sticky situation, flash into my mind.
Although their adventures have captivated millions over the years, they have also unknowingly set an unattainable bar for what we consider “adventurous”.
Adventures don’t have to be life or death situations on the side of the mountain; they can be found in everyday life.
Adventure is defined as exciting or unusual experiences that usually involve risky undertakings and uncertain outcomes.I don’t know about you, but as a mother of two small boys, even the most seemingly mundane tasks (like the brushing of teeth) can morph into risky undertakings and uncertain outcomes!
I believe that we should make a concerted effort to add adventure into our schedules! And I’m not alone in this thought. There is scientific proof that being adventurous can be extremely beneficial.
In fact, according to the Alternative Daily, there are five main benefits of adventure:
- Improve your immune system. Adventure usually allows you to get a little, or sometimes even A LOT, dirty. Research is finding that our society’s obsession with cleanliness may be leading to the rise in allergies, asthma, and even inflammatory bowel disease. Being dirty helps to build a stronger immune system, improving overall health.
- Stay mentally sharp. Any new experience can help keep you mentally sharp. But onerecent study found that physical activities like hiking, walking or biking, also help to grow the hippocampus that normally starts to shrink in the later adult years, leading to impaired memory or even dementia.
- Boost self-confidence. One of the natural by-products of adventure is a boost in self-confidence. Allowing ourselves to become immersed in unknown territory allows us to immediately recognize this internal shift. Each experience builds more confidence, by challenging yourself just a bit further every time.
- Spark the desire to explore. Adventure can bring this spark back, igniting the desire to explore and learn more, ultimately expanding the mind and bringing joy to the spirit.
- Help to cope with the challenges of life. By placing yourself in a situation where things may not go as planned, it helps you learn to cope better with inevitable challenges and uncertainties in life.
Contrary to the rise of government regulations and helicopter parenting, all risk and uncertainty should NOT be removed from our daily lives.
So now that we understand what adventure is and its benefits, let’s explore how we can add adventure in our lives!
1. Expand your definition of adventure.
First, as I alluded to in the introduction, we must expand our definition of adventure.
I acknowledge that the majority of us are never going to be faced with the task of escaping a lair of poisonous snakes, but I am confident that we will all experience situations the involve risk and uncertainty.
Redefining what adventure is (i.e. investing in a new stock, or even trying a new type of restaurant) allows us to become superheroes in our own eyes.
2. Do something that scares you everyday.
Next, we need to actively seek out opportunities to add adventure. Most of the time, epic escapades DO NOT simply land in our laps. We need to help create them in our lives. One way to do this is to do something that scares you everyday.
If your desire is to live as safely and comfortably as possible, you will never reach your full potential! As Dr. Brene Brown said:
“It’s worse to spend your whole life looking in, wondering if than it is to try and dare greatly and risk the chance of failure. Dare greatly; get in the arena and try.”
3. Value novelty.
We also need to gain an appreciation for new experiences, people and places. Valuing novelty enables us to add adventure in everyday life.
For example, if I make it my mission to try something new every single day, I am much more attuned in to my surroundings. I am constantly seeking out opportunities that are unfamiliar, exciting, or unusual – the very definition of adventure!
New things don’t necessarily have to be risky to be valuable. Even the safest of activities (choosing to write in a bright pink pen) can spark an adventurous spirit by removing the predictability and monotony out of every day life.
4. Embrace, even celebrate, the suck.
In the military spouse community, we have a saying “embrace the suck” that oftentimes accompanies long deployments. The phrase may be a bit crass, but the intent is pure gold. ‘Embracing the suck’ means that you are NOT wishing time, or life, away.
Embracing the suck is making conscious choice to wake up and make the most out of every single day. It is taking back control of your emotions and enjoying the moments in the face of adversity. I would even challenge everyone to take it a step further – to not only embrace the suck, but to celebrate the suck.
Yes, we are all faced with less than ideal situations. But we are also gifted beautiful moments that deserve our attention and appreciation as well. Many of those beautiful moments would not come to fruition without the “suck”. So it is something to be appreciated – NOT wished away.
5. Leverage your strengths along the way
We are all unique individuals with natural talents that give us different strengths. These strengths allow us to solve problems, form relationships, and accomplish goals. The key to having a successful adventure is to leverage your unique strengths along the way.
I’m not a movie/TV buff, but I am willing to bet that Indiana Jones would have tackled some of the McGyver’s adventures in a totally different way. What works for one person won’t work for the next. We should apply this as we add adventure through life.
Just like the famous book series, you should choose not only your own adventure, but the way in which you navigate through it. By operating in your areas of strength, you will be happier, more engaged, and more likely to succeed.
6. Set intentions, not goals.
Finally, we need to redefine success. Success should not be about always reaching for and achieving external goals.
Success should be defined as consistently living out our internal intentions. I am not at all intending that you give up goal-setting altogether. But what I am asking you to do is to take a step back and first understand your core values.
If your intention is to enjoy nature, you can still have the goal of summiting Mount Rainer, but the achievement of completing the hike cannot overshadow the overall intention of enjoying nature along the way. Alone, goals produce the place for failure.
By partnering goals with intentions, you will have a killer combo that will allow you to achieve your wildest dreams…and more importantly, enjoy the journey along the way!
Ready To Add Adventure To Your Life This 2017?
Indiana Jones and McGyver will always have a place in our hearts as great adventurers. And although the majority of us will never get close to the escapades they experienced, we all have the ability to take control of our lives and live adventurously!