When we landed after our long flight, I was overwhelmed and everything felt new and very challenging. I couldn’t read the signs or understand the spoken language as I struggled to find ground transportation and exchange money. Slowly we sorted it out and were on our way to new adventures. Landing in a foreign country felt very disorienting.
I soon felt confident as I hopped on and off trains and city trams. I was invigorated, excited, and aware of my surroundings. My mind was fully alert as I made decisions and thought through next steps. I love feeling so engaged in the present moment!
I resonate with what Bill Bryson said, “To my mind, the greatest reward and luxury of travel is to be able to experience everyday things as if for the first time, to be in a position in which almost nothing is so familiar it is taken for granted.”
Arriving back home, I wanted to retain some of that fresh perspective. I don’t want to live on autopilot and want to have a heightened sense of awareness in my daily life. While routines are important to our well-being, they should provide a framework, not restrictions.
There are many benefits to adding adventure to your life by challenging yourself in new ways. You will gain confidence, learn new skills, and it is very healthy for your brain too. Harvard Medical School Health Publishing reports that scientists have found brain-challenging activities stimulate new connections between nerve cells and may even help the brain generate new cells, developing neurological “plasticity” and building up a functional reserve that provides a hedge against future cell loss.
Adventure is less about travel and more about how we choose to live.
Following are three easy ways to develop more of an adventure mindset so that you can experience the benefits of challenging yourself in new ways.
Think Like a Tourist
After living in an area for years, we tend to shop at the same grocery stores, frequent the same restaurants and shops, and travel familiar routes. We often don’t see what’s familiar, venture down different streets, or explore new stores.
I have visited some of the great museums of the world, yet I’m sorry to say I have never been in our local history museum. So, when I returned from vacation, I decided to approach my life as a tourist.
First, I asked, what would I share with someone visiting my town for the first time? What are the highlights of life in this community? It is not the local Safeway! So, I went onto the town’s website for ideas. I found restaurants I have never tried, a small international food store, several upcoming events, places to visit, parks and trails maps, and arts and cultural events. I am trying at least one new thing a week.
What can you learn that is new and different in your own hometown?
Adventure in Our Daily Life: Dive Deeper, Try Something New
I love to cook, but recently noticed I’m preparing the same meals, rotating poultry, beef, fish, vegetables, pork, and lamb. So I ventured out and found a wonderful ethnic international market with varieties of vegetables, cuts of meat, and spices I’m not familiar with.
If it’s not busy, I’ll ask the butcher or the produce person how they would prepare an unfamiliar cut of meat or vegetable. They are often happy to chat, and I learn something new to try for a meal. I’ve tried several new delicious interesting recipes. If we like it, I’ll do again; if not, so what?
My lifelong friend Carol travelled throughout the world in her career and for pleasure for decades. When she retired, she decided to explore the local hiking areas in-depth. We both grew up and always lived in the Bay Area. In the past few years, she has explored dozens of beautiful trails within a fifty-mile radius, hiking hundreds of miles. Fortunately, she’s shared some of her treasured hikes with me. Adventure is everywhere.
What areas in your life can you expand, dive deeper into, or do differently?
Go a Different Way
On our European trip we had days of simply walking the streets and canals of Amsterdam, fascinated with the sights and sounds around us, with no specific destination in mind. We were exploring.
I returned with a new attitude of exploration about where I live. My morning runs and walks are now far less routine and I’ve gone down several streets I’ve either never been on or not in a long time. Same number of steps–far more interesting.
Consider trying different routes and new streets to get in your miles or steps, whether you walk, run, or ride your bike. When you aren’t in a rush as you drive across town, turn off your map app and try new streets. In case you get lost, turn your maps app back on and find your way. Very often you’ll discover new sites in your local area.
Are there streets and places nearby you keep saying you need to check out? Wander down one today.