“Life is either a daring adventure or nothing.” ~Helen Keller
Ever since I can remember I liked to travel. It does something to me, something strange and oddly uncharacteristic: I am suddenly very laid back.
When I travel I’ve got the right mind-set. I know I will stand in lines, have to schlep heavy bags, or perhaps have delays. I know that I will be eating at restaurants for the first time, without knowing if I will like them.
At home, when I am stressed out and worried, my mind likes to give me lists of things to do that I can’t keep up with. It juts me way out into the future, compels me to question myself, and stops me from being present with the task at hand.
The trick for me is to do one of the following:
- Not believe my mind
- Acknowledge it, and then put my attention on something else
- Remember how much I like traveling
When I travel, I expect the unexpected and have faith in the fact that things will not always go my way. This is part of the whole adventure.
I often wonder when traveling with my husband if he thinks to himself, “Who the hell is this person?” He must wonder it because I wonder it myself.
Travel is just the most obvious place for me to accept that I do not have control. I relax because I realize I never have control over anything anyway, so why not anticipate or even marvel at the ways my vacation may be going “wrong”?
The luggage didn’t arrive—guess we’ll have to go shopping! It’s two in the morning and we can’t find a cab—guess we’ll have to walk!
I show my husband: Yeah, I’m cool. Don’t you just love my traveling attitude?
No really, it just feels good when I travel to anticipate changes, new routes, and different views. I appreciate my life looking a tad bit different for the duration of time. Receiving relief from being stuck in my head, I enjoy every minute of the ride.
Travel taught me to apply this attitude to my life. When I wake up in the morning to greet my to-do list, I treat it just as if I was headed off on an adventurous trip to Bangladesh.
And as we know with the way the airlines are running these days: We will show up and get there on time, or we won’t. But as the old adage goes, life is a journey, our own airplane ride.
Here are 3 ways to enjoy the adventure in everything you do:
1. Release attachments to the results or the outcomes of your efforts.
Many times when we do things we are more concerned with how they will turn out than whether or not we relish the journey. We believe that there are certain ways the curtain should close and the audience should cheer, and then we take our final bow.
Yet, when we focus on the process of creating it brings us much more reward then the actual final product.
For example, when we travel on vacation we don’t think about when the trip will be over. It’s usually the opposite. We cherish each moment away from the stress and responsibilities of our lives, we make the most of every day, and we appreciate each moment because we know our vacation will soon come to an end.
We don’t ask ourselves, “What will happen at the end of the trip? Will it be a success?” Of course we want to have a fun and relaxing vacation, but typically we focus more on getting everything we can from the moment than how we will experience it in the end.
By releasing that grip that wants to reach towards the future, we see the beauty in everything we do. Life just flows from breakfast in bed, to a nap by the pool, to a walk on a quaint unfamiliar street, to a dinner date with exciting new food.
In daily life, the ordinary can become extraordinary. We can find the celebration, relaxation, and joy in our work, our errands, and in creating our dreams, too.
2. Allow yourself to meet each moment in the present.
Most times when we jut out into the future, worrying about how things might unfold or desiring to succeed, we are attempting to avoid the feelings that are present in the here and now.
When my mother became sick, driving to and from the hospital and staying at her empty house at night alone, I observed myself daydreaming about taking a luxurious trip to Europe with my husband. This is a pattern of mine.
When I am on meditation retreats and I am resistant to meeting a feeling that is ready to arise, I can catch myself planning a trip in my mind. It’s my escape route—what I do to avoid discomfort or settling into the moment.
My mother’s illness was painful and difficult to bear. Yet, I knew that my fantasizing was a message, a red alert, a bell ringing for me to become more present with her.
There are so many ways we try to avoid remaining concentrated on our task at hand because of our fear of the discomfort that may arise.
On a typical work day, when I find myself wanting to turn on the TV, or go to the fridge to snack on some food, or want to gab on the phone with a friend, I remind myself that I am going to something outside myself to escape facing something within.
It is here with gentleness and kindness, we have opportunity to return back to the task at hand and meet our insides.
Perhaps, rather than daydreaming of a vacation to Europe, I needed to release some gentle tears about my mother. Just being willing to meet the moment, I could choose to let my feelings reveal themselves to me and feel them with courage.
Perhaps, while sitting on retreat, rather than plan the itinerary for a road trip to Yellowstone and Jackson Hole, I could turn up the knob of concentration and put my focus back onto my meditation practice.
Perhaps, rather than getting up from my desk and distracting myself with insignificant small details like a sudden need to empty the dishwasher or check my Facebook account, I could face the work in front of me with attention and determination.
3. Go to the places you otherwise would not dare to go.
Welcome the places that may make you feel uncomfortable or fearful, and use these situations as catalysts for change. Welcoming what makes you uncomfortable will open you up to a new way of being. Let your inner-adventurer guide you to the places you may not otherwise dare to go.
When I judge myself as not enough to succeed at a project, or doubt my ability, or strive for perfection, suddenly my creative endeavor comes to a halt. Yet, when I travel, my self-judgments go away, as well, simply because I love the experience of being on an adventurous journey.
We are led by our life force within when we remind ourselves in our daily lives that pleasure comes from showing up to our work— in being curious about the step-by-step process to build our dreams, in feeling the moment of jubilation when we meet ourselves fully and dive in, in experiencing the joy of being alive in the moment.
When we reach and expand our creativity beyond our usual limitations, everything is more vivid and awake.
We don’t have to travel to a foreign country to experience this, because every moment is a different, new, and exciting place that we have never known before.
Photo by laineybugger