The plan for my Tuesday evening was simple: go home, change, go for a run, back home, shower, eat, watch TV, go to sleep.
I make lame plans sometimes.
What actually happened Tuesday evening was this: went home, changed, went for a run, got a phone call, a friend had acquired free tickets to a concert, called roommate, back home, changed, drove to arena, purchased drinks, enjoyed amazing concert with friends, went home, went to sleep.
It was a fun night.
One thing I have consistently found myself searching for, especially this past year, is adventure.
A little risk, a little whimsy, beautiful memories, possibly some mishaps, not enough sleep, and quite a bit of fun and excitement.
It’s easy to forget that life is an adventure: epic, dangerous, exciting, full of uncertainty and exploring and moments that make you forget your troubles and overwhelm you with awe and joy.
So . . . how do you achieve this if your life isn’t one long North Face commercial?
My life doesn’t necessarily lend itself to this naturally. I have a 40-hour/week job. I have housework to do and errands to run. I live in a town just like any other, and my hobbies aren’t particularly risky.
And yet . . . I feel I can say with some degree of certainty that my life is fairly adventuresome (and I have pictures on Instagram to prove it).
— Dynamic Catholic (@DynamicCatholic) April 29, 2018
Why? Well, I’ve made it a priority to live a life that is far from complacent. A life that is full and joyful, brimming with days and nights like that Tuesday evening. Sure, not every second is going to be a high-speed car chase, but those thrilling moments don’t have to be rare either. In fact, they shouldn’t be.
Here are four tactics I’ve used over the past year to allow room for adventure in my life—instead of relying on my boring (although highly practical) plans.
1. Explore, explore, explore
You don’t have to travel to some exotic location for a week to make it an adventure. Your neighborhood park, a new bar or restaurant, a nearby city . . . take advantage of all that is in your vicinity. Go somewhere with a view to watch the sunrise or sunset. Look up which places are playing live music this week, and venture there. Try food that is a little out of your comfort zone. (Have you ever had jalapeno waffles? If not, I know a place). Go to a coffee shop before work to read, write, or catch up with a friend. Check out a farmer’s market. Go for a bike ride or run outside instead of going to the gym. Find the closest body of water and have a picnic by it. Any place with a rooftop you can enjoy is always a good idea.
Some of these may sound silly and inconsequential . . . that’s okay. It’s just about getting a little out of your routine, breathing fresh air, and making the absolute most out of your daily life.
Making room for adventure in your life means stepping back from micromanaging yourself.
Also, you don’t have to do any of these things with others. I mean, if you want to and someone is available, awesome. If not, don’t be afraid to take yourself. Learning to do things alone and enjoy your own company is super healthy, and it takes pressure off of your relationships.
Making room for adventure in your life means stepping back from micromanaging yourself. When you do have a plan, be flexible. It’s okay to not get everything done on your to-do list. I did not go for a run that Tuesday evening. I made it to the park only to turn right back around. Do I regret it? Not one tiny bit. Planning can be good, and so can spur of the moment decisions. Adventure tends to favor the latter. At the very least, be open to the idea that just because you didn’t intend on doing something, doesn’t mean you shouldn’t.
An adventurous life requires keeping an eye out for opportunities to seize. This, in turn, necessitates an aggressive attention to the present moment, not the past or the future. Free tickets? I’ll take them. Restaurant opening? I’m there. Sunrise? Let’s go. The more you are engaged in what is going on in front of you, the more you’ll notice occasions you can turn into another memorable venture.
3. Take risks
There are many areas in life where taking risks is not a good idea. For example: driving, medical help, drug use, most financial decisions . . . in all of these, I strongly advocate taking the safe route.
There are countless opportunities for us to step outside the cozy, comfortable bubble we live in and experience something new . . . something life-giving.
However, we do need a healthy amount of risk in our lives in order to allow room for adventure. This could look like the risk of trying something (food, music, activity) you may not like. It could mean moving to a new city far away from friends and family. It could mean asking out someone you really like (or someone you just met). It could mean going dancing when you may look like an idiot. It could mean trying a new recipe that you totally screw up. It could be going to an event where you hardly know anyone.
There are countless opportunities for us to step outside the cozy, comfortable bubble we live in and experience something new, something different, something life-giving.
The little things, the small wins, the daily wonders and beauty . . . enjoy it. Adventure is really more of a mindset than anything else. Most of us live ordinary, suburban lives. The difference between someone who lives their life and someone who merely endures it, is the attitude of gratitude and awe of the miracles that occur each day.
We can choose to nurture this childlike sense of wonder and make the most of every precious moment: Hug your spouse, and hold them for a second longer than normal. Listen to your favorite song on the way to work, and sing at the top of your lungs. Buy fresh flowers at the grocery store. Smile at a stranger. Breathe deeply the next time you walk outside. Get up a few minutes earlier to read while you have your morning coffee. As soon as you get home, leave your phone in your room.
The more often we make the decision to enjoy our life instead of endure it, the more our life will feel like the incredible, wonderful, treacherous, beautiful adventure that it is meant to be.
“You cannot become the-best-version-of-yourself unless you wake up every morning ready to slay resistance. Resistance stands between you and happiness.”
Resisting Happiness by Matthew Kelly
Your life may not be an advertisement full of attractive and fit people (who are suspiciously glamorous looking for supposed hikers) wearing stylish outdoor gear, but this is the one life you’ve got—so go live it.