08 Aug The Adventurous Life – Living a Life Well-Lived (Part Two)
This is the second of two instalments of The Adventurous Life. You can read the first instalment here.
When we set ourselves a goal to do something, the more complex it is, the newer it is and the more we have to learn is called skills acquisition. This is very important to our physical and mental health and personal development. The benefit of exploring new skills as well as new places is that it builds our mental ability, which in turn promotes brain plasticity. Building physical ability strengthens motor control, spatial awareness and proprioception (awareness of self in space and time).
Use it or lose it! Scientific evidence shows that constantly challenging ourselves and building our skills through physical and mental stimulus can stave off cognitive decline. The nature of adventurous activities is a stimulus and skills overload so it really is a win/win.
If you add exploring the environment around us and the benefits of adventure, the effects become mind-bogglingly positive. Everything from teaching resilience, reducing overall stress levels and improving cognitive function.
Shared adventure activities form stronger bonds by fostering open communication and encouraging solidarity, better sleep, improved self-confidence, self-worth and self-esteem. People who engage in wilderness, outdoor adventure activities or sports retain positive emotions and minimise negative ones more than people who stick to a lifetime of routine and safe outcomes.
The adventurous life is one of mutual respect: respect for yourself, respect for the forces of nature and environment around you, respect for the cultures with which you collide, respect for those that have gone before, those that developed your craft. As you grow as a person, your self-respect increases and so does your sense of self. Most importantly, however, it’s your respect for the world around you. It would take a cold fish to not be touched by the dramatic beauty of the world; standing on a bluff in the Budawangs of Australia, looking out over kilometres of eucalypts and rock formations with the sun rising in the east and the cacophony of birds calling in the new day.
Then, as we broaden our horizons, we can’t help but become more tolerant of others and more empathic of both our environment and the people around us.
So, grow a pair!
Grow a pair! Get out of your comfort zone. Take a deep breath and take the plunge. Grab life by the proverbial and swing it around. It’s a fact: if you achieve something of which the outcome was uncertain, our self-esteem, self-worth and value grows. We then find it easier to do it again and practice what we’ve just achieved. As we rewire our brain, our skill set and confidence changes forever. Move onto the next challenge and repeat: our pinnacles of achievement (in line with our self-belief) get higher and higher as we keep achieving… and sometimes failing means our resilience gets stronger and stronger. Take knocks and disappointment in the outdoors as it prepares you better for knocks indoors. It gives you strategies and choices, the ability to learn, reassess, and learn again.
When we say someone has heart it can have two meanings: 1. They are caring, and 2. to have heart is to be brave, courageous, have tenacity and don’t give up. We look for heart in fighters, we see it in acts of bravery and heroism. Heart is being able to focus on a task at hand regardless of the environment around you, and with the hope of creating a positive outcome. I am not talking about reckless acts of bravery, but courage in the face of adversity which we will all come up against from time to time. When we have achieved this over and over again in our adventure pursuits it helps to grow our “heart” and ability to dig deep at other times back in the “real” world. Adventure and wilderness pursuits teach us that, deep inside, we all have “what it takes”. The outdoor environment shows us what we can achieve, especially when we need to reassess, and how to make a plan and move forward in uncertain times.
So, what now?
It’s about getting out there and having fun; learning and researching new skills, new places to go, new things to do and then getting better at them. It’s not about taking wild and unnecessary risks, but about calculating and minimising risk. Then, once you have learnt the skills required and become more experienced, it’s about reassessing that risk or moving on to a more challenging task, activity or goal.
I’ll leave you with this…
Hunter S Thompson made the famous quote, “Life should not be a journey to the grave with the intention of arriving safely in a pretty and well-preserved body, but rather to skid in broadside in a cloud of smoke, thoroughly used up, totally worn out, and loudly proclaiming ‘Wow! What a Ride!’”
This world is a beautiful and amazing place and it’s a crime against yourself, those who you love and those who look up to you to not to have experienced and tasted as much of it as you possibly can.
Joe Bonington © 2017