You know you love it (adventure that is) but do you know why? Turns out there’s actual brain science behind it. Mindset coach Dan Kurlapski explains why training your brain’s ‘leap muscle’ by taking a regular dive into the unknown could have positive knock-ons throughout the rest of your life.
We Are Explorers…
We are all explorers. As human beings our brains are wired for new experiences. To explore the world, the mind, and the self through adventure. We crave this. Sitting in our job we daydream about being out there. But daydreaming alone is merely knowing what you want without the required action.
We wait too long between adventures. In fact, so much time is spent daydreaming that when we drop out of that daydream we become aware of a stark contrast – the contrast between how we are choosing to live our day to day, week to week lives and the EPIC way in which we’d love to live them.
This contrast does not feel great.
Why Do We Need Adventure?
Because without adventure we are left with routine. We are left with a sense of, ‘This is nothing new’. A sense of that which is already known to us, already familiar to us. You could eat the most delicious muffin in the world and be licking your fingers and salivating for the next one, but eat that same cake 30 days in a row, day after day and all of a sudden, that exact same muffin doesn’t taste like the one you had a month ago.
That’s what we so often do to ourselves with our own lives. Because it’s comfortable. Because it’s familiar and easy to do the same again and again. It’s not even your fault that you are no longer grateful for this muffin, or for your-day to-day. There’s a science behind it, behind the very core of what it is to be human.
Our most constant state is change. Physical. Mental. Emotional. Our entire Being is in a constant state of change and growth yet we allow ourselves, and even sometimes enforce upon ourselves, a rigid routine. We think that one day, we’ll arrive at a state of happiness, one day it’ll all be sorted, known and familiar…
…but this is the exact opposite of what we are.
Train Your Brain’s Leap Muscle
Start to acquire an adventure mindset and find yourself leaping at opportunities to explore the unknown. Expose yourself to new experiences. Every exposure to new experience causes a chemical reaction in the brain that results in a release of dopamine, a feel good hormone that gives you a buzz. A line of cocaine releases the same hormone, the same feeling – but fuck that – where’s the experience you hold for the rest of your life in that?
The same mind buzz is created when you travel or go on holiday. It’s no accident that with every holiday you take, regardless of how far apart they are, you get that mind buzz, that feel good vibe happening. Here’s the thing though — you don’t need to wait for the next time work gives you 4 weeks leave to experience this mind buzz, nor do you need to quit your job and bugger off for a 6 month trek across the Sahara. Adventure is a state of mind. One that can turn your Monday to Friday into the best tasting muffin ever.
Make Microadventures Routine
Microadventures can help you acquire that state of mind. A cheeky weekend getaway. A new experience with good company. Feed your life with microadventures. Voluntarily introduce new experiences into your life on a regular basis.
When you start it may seem a little ‘hard’ and ‘too difficult’, because you’re used to the same routine. But do it regularly enough and you start working what I call the brain’s ‘leap muscle’. Just like any other muscle, the more you use it, the stronger it gets and the easier it is to leap at the unknown, to leap at a new adventure.
Do it. Frequently. It only takes a weekend. Go climb a rock. Go whitewater rafting. Explore a new campsite. Learn a new skill that you suck at, astrophotography, orienteering, whatever challenges you.
Microadventure the shit out of your life.
Because that’s living.
Here’s A Couple Other Reasons Though
The brain doesn’t discriminate between you leaping at a rock and you leaping at a career goal. It’s the same leap muscle in action. Teach it to leap and that will be your norm wherever you are.
Also, exploring and seeking adventure will positively translate into your day to day and make your Monday to Friday one hell of an experience in itself. The combination of regular microadventures and triggering the brain’s leap muscle in the everyday makes for one happy human.
There are experiences to be had but only if you’re open to having them.
Instead of ‘yes but’, say ‘yes and’…
Feature photo by @henry_brydon