The secret to a more interesting life

contra dancing with motion blur

Image by Stew Stryker, via Flickr

Amelia Earhart said “When a great adventure is offered, you don’t refuse it.” And then Chris Guillebeau quoted her. When two of my heroes speak, I definitely take notice.

Adventure is important and too often neglected in our lives. It’s easy to get stuck in a rut or even just long for the comfort of a weekend at home on the couch more than anything else, adventure or not.

You can’t have an interesting life sitting on your couch, though.

If you think back to the best times in your life, I bet one thing in common is that they didn’t involve the couch. Your best times probably involved getting outside your comfort zone and doing something difficult or connecting with someone. Maybe both. That’s the stuff that’s exhilarating. That’s what makes you feel alive.

It’s also the best way to gain confidence and like yourself more. When you try something new, at first it’s hard, but then you get better at it. That’s satisfying. It causes you to respect yourself more and fear the unknown less.

In fact, Dr. Martin Seligman, one of the foremost experts on positive psychology, found that people are most satisfied with life, not when they relax or do something fun, but when they do something challenging that requires skill and concentration. Whether you’re dancing, writing a book, or playing tennis, it’s the activities that require effort that are most rewarding. They may not be strictly pleasurable in the moment, but they leave you with a high of satisfaction.

How can you put this to use?

Adventures don’t have to be big—even tiny adventures can expand your horizons. Seek activities that challenge you. Try new things when you get the chance. Given a choice between being passive and engaging in something, engage.

If you’re not sure where to get started, look to your strengths first. If you need help identifying them, try the quizzes on the Authentic Happiness website, especially the VIA Signature Strengths Questionnaire. The site requires an email account for registration, but you can use a mailinator address if that makes you uncomfortable.

Also, think back on you life. What were the best times? What have you most enjoyed doing? Look to those things as starting points—do more of them or related activities.

What have you always wanted to try? Well, what are you waiting for?

If you’re still lost, start by being on the lookout for interesting things to do. If someone invites you to something, say yes if you can! If you see a notice about an upcoming event or activity that sounds interesting, go! If you’re intimidated, try to get someone to go with you. Maybe you can build a new skill and a relationship at the same time.

A few things that give me a lot of gratification are cooking, writing, and contra dancing. I’m just back from an awesome weekend of contra dancing in Atlanta, and I had such a blast!

Contra dancing is great because it combines a lot of happiness-boosters all in one activity: it’s sociable; it’s active; there’s uplifting music; there’s a welcoming, community atmosphere; you learn patterns and can embellish the dance if you want to; everyone works together to create something larger than themselves; and there’s a whole lot of smiling!

more contra dancing motion blurs

Image by Stew Stryker, via Flickr

It’s also easy to learn, so you can get a lot of gratification quickly. Learn more about contra here (text) or here (video series), then look for dances in your area!

Of course, the adventure Chris was talking about when he quoted Amelia Earhart is his upcoming World Domination Summit, which will be held in Portland, OR, in June. I just registered for this, and I’m super psyched.

To me, what sets Chris apart from the other inspirational bloggers I read is that his focus is on helping people figure out what they want to do and then do it, not just for their own good, but also for what they can contribute to the world. He doesn’t tell you what to do, he doesn’t look down on anyone, and he focuses on a bigger picture than just having less stuff or making money on the internet. He reminds his readers that we don’t have to stay stuck or live an ordinary life just because everyone around us is.

If there’s one theme to Chris Guillebeau’s work, it’s enabling people to do satisfying stuff. I can’t wait to go to a whole weekend of awesome people talking about that.

Those are a few of the adventures I’m working on; now it’s your turn. Comfort has its place, but bring on the adventures!

Advertisements
This entry was posted in how-to, life-is-short, Uncategorized and tagged , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , . Bookmark the permalink.

6 Responses to The secret to a more interesting life

  1. bertbad says:

    I like adventures, they are scary, but fun. Funny thing is when you get through them, they don’t seem so scary anymore and you look for a bigger challenge. What has happened to you? It is called growing! Such fun!!

  2. Stew says:

    To my mind, the second one is so dark and blurry that it’s impossible to tell what’s going on. I feel I have other contra dance shots that make your point but are clearer, such as the one in the Website link above.

    But I guess you used the one you wanted.

    Thanks for the photo credits.

    – Stew

    • Cara says:

      Ooh, the one in the link is a really cool photo! It doesn’t really look like contra to me, though–it looks more like a couple dance. Oh, of course, now that I notice the title, it’s from a waltz! It is an awesome picture, but the ones I picked captured the crazy-whirly-community feel that’s what I love about contra.

  3. razzlemonster says:

    I love your blog… always inspiring.

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in:

WordPress.com Logo

You are commenting using your WordPress.com account. Log Out / Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out / Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out / Change )

Google+ photo

You are commenting using your Google+ account. Log Out / Change )

Connecting to %s