While many of us may fantasize about high adventure, and admire those who are daring and bold, various limiting factors may keep us from pursuing an adventurous lifestyle. In actuality, adventure has much more to do with one’s attitude, than his ability to drop everything and race to another continent to experience the unknown. As demonstrated by former “high adventurers,” living on the edge is not all that glamorous, and can be very dangerous and exhausting. Yet even without travel, one can make every day an adventure.
Adventure experts Laura Tong and Beau Miles have had their share of living on the edge, and found that even everyday experiences can be turned into fulfilling adventures with the right mindset. Find out whether their words of wisdom can help bring out the adventurer in you.
Meet Beau Miles
Australian Beau Miles regularly pushes himself to the limit. After a misadventure off the coast of Africa which nearly cost him his life 15 years ago, he has found abundant adventure opportunities closer to home. His recently published book The Backyard Adventurer is a tribute “the life-affirming wonders of calloused hands and sore feet,” that can be obtained within walking distance from your own home.
No stranger to discomfort, Miles keeps a positive outlook through every experience; even a toothache was seen as “an opportunity to discover a universe of pain” inside his mouth. His philosophy is that “we wander around with a huge head full of assumptions, and you don’t have to do much to try and break those assumptions. What is hard is actually making the decision to go and do it.”
His local adventures include a 24 hour marathon, where, aside from running one mile (two for the first two hours) and planting a tree at the top of each hour of the day, he tackled various fix-it projects, made a table, cooked a meal, slept very little, and basically made the most one could make of a day.
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But everyday adventures don’t have to be rigorous. Anything new and challenging will fit the bill. Sometimes the trick is not in finding the adventure, but in facing what holds us back.
Face your fears
If your life has become a dull routine, it may be that you are afraid of uncertainty, and actively avoid it. This can be overcome by acknowledging your fears. Fear is a natural, and potentially helpful human emotion that we can work with. Kirsten Parker, MFA, suggests tuning into the fear, and asking yourself: “What are you afraid will happen? And what are you afraid will happen next?” Keep probing until you find out what the “worst-case scenario” is that you are trying to avoid.
Some of the fears can be addressed with preparatory actions that will prevent anticipated loss or danger. The more difficult fears involve facing painful emotions. In this case, Parker suggests coming to terms with these emotions ahead of time. If you can find the strength to say, “I can survive feeling rejected” or “I’m willing to risk feeling embarrassment,” then nothing can stop you and your adventurous spirit!
Try new things
Taking up a new hobby or learning a new skill will not only nourish your mind, but also bring you into new circles of people with similar interests. Bird watching, mushroom hunting, thrift scoring, sewing, or chess may sound boring at first; but once you delve into the intricacies involved, they can become fascinating adventures to look forward to.
On the more daring side, attempt to use your body in an unfamiliar way. The challenge of learning an instrument, planting a garden, or completing a DIY project at home can be infinitely rewarding and also give you entertaining stories to share. Even balancing on a unicycle can be an awkwardly fun skill to learn, however limited its practical applications.
Endeavor to express yourself in creative ways. Art, music, dance, and writing all require you to get in touch with your inner self. Discover the beauty and goodness within, and find the courage to let it shine forth. Explore and experiment with different forms of expression to find your strengths.
Shake up your routine
Falling into a predictable routine can make life simpler and more comfortable, though a rather hum-drum. Breaking out of your daily routine for a bit can be a mini-adventure. Try shopping at a different grocery store. You’ll have to navigate new aisles, encounter new faces, and even brave new products! Better yet, visit your local farmer’s market. Broadening your horizons is one way to open new doors to opportunity.
Take an alternate route to work. It may take longer, but the freshness of the experience will open your eyes to all manner of interesting things you may not have noticed before; things that could become future adventures! If you’re up for a real challenge, try walking, like Beau Miles, a long commute, with nothing but the clothes on your back, and the determination to make due with what the environment has to offer.
Make a point of doing something different on the weekend. Local attractions often go overlooked by the natives, while drawing visitors from afar. Find out what’s special in your area and explore it; or explore your own mind for interests that have been set aside for whatever reason. Carve out the time to follow your dreams!
Camping isn’t just for scouts. You can set up a tent in your own backyard and experience the stillness of a starry night, the sounds of racoons in your garbage can, or the chilly damp from a rainy night. Just sleeping outdoors can be an exhilarating (or exhausting) change from the comfort of a cozy bed.
They say “curiosity killed the cat,” but it is also credited with inventions, discoveries, and advanced civilization. To better understand everything around you, get into the habit of asking questions and finding answers. Let go of the notion of feeling dumb. Intelligent people got that way by asking questions.
Question why you do things a certain way, and whether there might be a better way. Observe others and find out what makes them tick. For in depth explorations, visit the library. Take off the blinders that limit you to your own little world. There is a vast and extraordinary wealth of life just outside your door. It’s just a matter of paying attention to it.
Laura Tong, who continues to find adventure in her now-stable-and-settled lifestyle, makes an important point when she says, “you can become an everyday pioneer by stepping outside your comfort zone but staying totally inside your safety zone.” By challenging our limiting beliefs, we can stay on our toes and be ready for any adventure that comes our way.
Mental barriers like “I’m no good at cooking,” or “I can’t carry a tune,” are powerful adventure preventers. If you want to take risks, you need to set those beliefs aside, and try the things that you’re not already good at. You may discover talents you never knew you had.
Just because you don’t know something, doesn’t mean you can’t learn it. Continuing your education should be an ongoing adventure. Reading about new subjects, studying a foreign language, taking classes, and raising children are all valuable adventures in learning.
Discover the hidden treasures within
Tong offers another gem; “if you search for the hidden treasures in your own life, you’ll discover wealth far greater than any rusty chest of tarnished gold.”
Review some of your former accomplishments, and tally up the skills you have displayed in the past. They may be rusty, but they can be polished up and put to use. Think of adventurous ways to recapture your forgotten talents.
By the same token, it is likely that you are capable of much more than you realize. Try new things when opportunity knocks, even if it’s not something you would have chosen. If someone asks you to join their activity, give it a try. You have little to lose and so much to gain.
Perhaps some skill that comes naturally to you could be super helpful to someone else. Tapping into your own resources to help others is one of the most gratifying adventures to be had; it fosters gratitude on all sides.
“Adventure is not outside man; it is within.”George Elliot