No one dreams, when they are young, of having a completely mundane, unremarkable, and uninspiring life. Instead, we all imagine ourselves being adventurers, firefighters, explorers, princesses, and other heroic and interesting archetypes of what life could be like with the intensity turned up to 11.
Of course, everyone does end up falling into a more or less conventional and predictable routine to some degree, but if that routine takes over entirely, and there’s little if anything in your life that actually inspires you and seems truly meaningful, interesting, or exciting, then you’d better make a change.
Here are some tips for having a more adventurous life, so that you can actually feel good about your everyday experiences, and so that you can collect plenty of good stories to share with your loved ones today, tomorrow, and in the years to come.
Commit to “doing” more and “viewing” less
Back in 1938, a man called Jay B. Nash wrote a book entitled “Spectatoritis,” in which he complained that more and more people were living their lives as “observers” rather than “participants.”
At the time the book was written, most of our modern entertainment technologies weren’t even a dream in the imagination of the average person – but commentators like Nash pointed out that too much time spent reading magazines, or watching professional athletes play sports, instead of playing them yourself – naturally led to a kind of surrogate life.
People who were constantly watching and consuming media and information were, more or less, in a kind of virtual reality. Often, their own lives would pass them by, and all they would have to reflect on, for the most part, would be the achievements and life events of other people who they had viewed from afar.
As you can already see, that observation absolutely applies tenfold, twentyfold, or a hundredfold more today than it did when the book was written.
Inventions like the Internet offer all sorts of amazing possibilities to the average person. It’s now possible to work remotely from just about anywhere in the world, with nothing but a laptop and web connection, for example. It’s also possible to conduct basic research on just about any topic you could possibly dream of, from the comfort of your own home.
But for all the possibilities offered by the Internet and other high-tech inventions, there is also the downside of a completely addictive and never-ending information matrix, that we can all get completely lost in and sacrifice all of our time to.
The writer, Adam Alter, wrote a whole book on the topic of Internet addiction, entitled “Irresistible,” where, among other things, he looked at the ways in which social media companies employ techniques and strategies adapted from the gambling industry to make sure that everyone stays hooked on their platforms as much as possible. He also looked at stories of people who were so addicted to online gaming, that they let their entire lives fall apart around them.
As if all of that wasn’t bad enough, the “supernormal stimuli” of colourful, loud, and exciting content viewed online or on TV, can desensitise people to real world experiences – meaning that when they do actually “get out there” everything seems more boring as a result.
If you want to live a more adventurous life, the first principle has got to be to start “doing” more and “viewing” less. Instead of just watching music videos on YouTube, go to a concert. And instead of just scrolling through beautiful adventure-get away photos online, go and have your own adventures in a beautiful natural setting.
Treat your life as a story that you are busy writing
“Each man is the bard of his own existence,” according to a powerful quote attributed to Cormac McCarthy. And since the dawn of recorded history, people have frequently thought of themselves as protagonists in tales that they, themselves, were in the process of shaping.
Any life, presented the right way, can be a truly gripping story – whether a tale of duty and devotion, reckless abandon and excitement, tragedy, or deep contemplation and search for meaning.
It’s easy to end up feeling as though we don’t really have as much power as we would like, in regards to how our lives unfold on an everyday basis. After all, a single individual rarely seems to have much say in things like the political developments in their country, or whether the company they work for is going to go through a round of layoffs.
In fact, though, you are always in a much more powerful situation than you think you are. Because, even when circumstances arise that you didn’t have direct control over, you can always choose your reaction, so as to write the most meaningful, powerful, and uplifting story possible.
To live a more adventurous life, always keep in mind that you are the protagonist of your own tale – and you should look at yourself in that way. How many times have you read a book, or watched a TV show, only to end up shouting at the main character to stop doing some stupid thing, and to head in a different direction?
Well, what would you think and say if you were reading the book of your own life up to this point? And how would you change things going forward?
Get started now, instead of always holding out for the perfect moment
There’s a well-established bit of wisdom that exists in the proverbs of cultures from around the world, that says that if you always wait for the perfect moment before taking action, you will never get anything done.
In life, things are always at least a bit messy, and there is always some degree of uncertainty, chaos, and confusion that comes into play whenever you are contemplating any meaningful action – or standing on the edge of a potential adventure.
Instead of constantly procrastinating and waiting for what seems like the “perfect moment,” follow your heart and your gut, and make a bold leap of faith into the unknown. Maybe it’s time to actually make the arrangements and prepare the wedding invitations instead of fretting about whether or not you’re in a position to have the ideal ceremony.
By the same token, maybe it’s time to get away and see that historical site, country, or cultural landmark that you have been daydreaming about visiting, even if you don’t feel like you are a fully-fledged traveller and cultural connoisseur yet.
One of the tragic tales that unfolds in society on a regular basis, is that people put off their dreams and ambitions indefinitely, and tell themselves things like “I’m going to see the world after I’ve retired” – only for “tomorrow” to turn into “never,” and the future to be cut short prematurely.
You never know how much time you really have in this life, so don’t get into the habit of putting off meaningful experiences indefinitely.
Dare to dream and aim big, instead of always playing it safe
If you are willing to dream big and pursue those dreams, there is no telling what kind of profound adventures you might encounter along the way.
Many people are put off by ambitious goals and dreams, because they feel destined to fail, and to lead to some inevitable degree of disappointment. When all is said and done, though, you never know what might be possible unless you really give it your all, and even falling short of an ambitious goal can lead you into all sorts of life-changing adventures.
As the old saying goes, “aim for the stars and you may hit the moon (aim for the trees and you may hit the ground).”
It is, of course, important to have some sense of perspective and risk-assessment in life – and you don’t want to do something like gambling the family home away in Vegas. But, that doesn’t mean that your dreams and ambitions should be small and everyday things, either. Set yourself goals that really inspire you. Dare to dream big, instead of playing it safe.
Life just becomes much more of an adventure when you have audacious goals.
Be more present, and learn to value and appreciate each moment for what it is
One of the weirdest paradoxes about the travel-related photo hashtags you’ll see on social media, is that, presumably, the people taking those breathtaking photos are often not actually “in the moment” and enjoying the magic of the experience. Instead, they are routinely looking at those beautiful mountain vistas from the perspective of an influencer trying to get the perfect selfie or branding shot.
The deepest experiences in life come when we are present – in the state that psychologists refer to as “flow.” If you want to live a more adventurous life, you need to cultivate the ability to be present, and to learn to value and appreciate each moment for what it is.
When you are in a beautiful Venetian alleyway, put away your smartphone, stop thinking about what you’re going to have for lunch, and take a moment to really look at your surroundings. Don’t “try” to feel any particular way. Just let the experience unfold as it will.