In his must-read book, The 4-Hour Work Week, author Tim Ferriss tells us the opposite of happiness in not sadness. It is boredom. He later goes on to equate happiness with excitement, and excitement is the heart of an Adventuresome Life.
Let’s suppose he’s right. How much of your life contains a goodly amount of excitement? Or, as for most of us, does any of your life contain excitement, except on rare occasion. I think the latter is true, but I also think that is NOT the way it should be.
I think many people might think we are kind of strange if we say we are attempting to discover excitement on a daily basis. I disagree.
Excitement: Another Means to Adventure
In 2012 I semi-retired when I was 62. There were a lot of reasons, but that’s for another post. What I want you to know is that I hated it. I was bored spitless.
My boredom inspired me to think about what I want in life and that’s when, after much contemplation, I came up with “Meaning, Adventure, and Awe.” So now you know. This blog is as much for me as it is for you.
Before I go any further I want to define terms. We have a tendency to think of excitement as if it is almost the height of human experience when it really means quiet simply to be enthusiastic or even highly satisfied with some thing, person or experience.
Check out the synonyms I found for excitement: enthusiasm, eagerness, exhilaration, anticipation, pleasure, enjoyment, delight, interest, elation, and thrill. None of these words carry the same weight as supercalifragilisticexpialidotious.
These are quite simply words for anticipatory joy and the experience of joy. And yet we waste day after day with an insufficient amount of excitement or joy or enthusiasm or something to look forward to. We need something that challenges or even scares us.
I call this ADVENTURE. I think most of us want Adventure in our lives… but we’ve learned to merely accept what the day or other people have in mind for us. We end up with a boring and uneventful day that turns into a week, then month, and finally begins to define our existence.
Bring on Adventure
So what do you say that we jump on this rocket ship together and soar? I’m in. Join me. To start, I believe that we have to redefine Adventure, or better, break it down into categories. I’ve thought of three types of Adventures that each of us can do both regularly and on special occasion.
- NEW PERSPECTIVE
As soon as you get out of bed you are beginning a day with Adventure: although each day may be very similar, each day also brings it’s unique experiences—some are pleasurable and many are a pain in the a**.
You have a choice. See your experiences as just normal day-to-day or keep your eyes open for something unusual and, like Don Quixote, take it on as an Adventure. Make yourself view it as something new and exciting or challenging. Either way take it on with fervor.
- NEW ACTIVITIES
I love the arts. I go to galleries and museums quite frequently. I long to be a painter, but the problem is I can’t draw stick figures. I’m always the last person chosen for the Pictionary Team.
But at 60 years old I decided to start painting. I had a friend come over to teach me how to apply acrylic paints to a canvas and how to tape off straight lines. Then I started. Here’s a picture of my very first painting. It’s a self-portrait: “Profusion within severe boundaries:”
Next thing I knew I was painting abstract crazy stuff everyday. I’d start painting when my wife went to bed and I would go on for hours. I’ve even watched the sunrise while still painting (after starting at 10:00 PM the night before).
Now THAT is an Adventure. Take on something you’ve always wanted to do and just do it. Who cares if you’re any good? Just enjoy the Adventure of trying something new. The scarier the better. The bigger chance of failure the better. That’s exciting!
Think of something you’ve always wanted to do but are afraid to start or can’t find time to start. Then DO IT ANYWAY. That’s what adventurous people do. Nike’s right: JUST DO IT!
- NEW CHALLENGING EXPERIENCES
The final kind of Adventure is the real deal; some call it vacation. I’ve discovered there are two kinds of vacations: 1) Relaxing, or 2) Adventuring.
Last year my wife and I went to Italy. Total Adventure!!! We’d never been there; didn’t know anyone; and didn’t really know what to expect. It was the best Adventure Vacation of my life. In fact, we will do it every year now. We’ll go somewhere we’ve never been and let the place do to us whatever it does.
This year is Spain. After that: Istanbul, Budapest, and Ireland. This list is never-ending. And what really cool is that I have no idea what it’s going to be like. I just let it happen and in the process discover excitement, enthusiasm, eagerness, exhilaration, anticipation, pleasure, enjoyment, delight, interest, elation, and thrill.
So what’s stopping you? Money? Save and use some of your savings. Fear? Cool! That makes it even better. Time? Just a rotten excuse. Kids? Take them. Some of my most favorite Adventures have been with my son and wife—no matter how old my son was.
“Your Mission Mr. Phelps is to plan three Adventures:”
- What am I gonna do today to find excitement?
- What am I gonna do that I’ve never done before?
- Where am I gonna go that is exciting, scary, and exhilarating? (Even if it takes two years to save up, do it.)
There are several Adventurous people reading this post. Write me about it in the Comments section. Give us all hope and encouragement and maybe a kick in the pants.