We are facing an epidemic. It affects a larger proportion of the population than most people realize and can be detrimental to the well-being and functioning of any adult who suffers from it. This epidemic is a lack in fulfillment within our lives.
We can easily differentiate people by whether or not they are fulfilled in their life’s various activities (i.e. work, social calendar, travel, purpose, etc.). Those who feel fulfilled generally make a living doing something they enjoy, or at the very least work a job that gives them the freedom to do what they enjoy (like travel often). This work gives them purpose, and they generally feel like an authentic, positive, and happy version of themselves.
Those individuals who lack this fulfillment feel stuck working a job they hate, don’t experience as much happiness, and generally feel like they miss out on a lot of opportunities in life.
Let me preface the rest of this article by saying the specifics of what will allow an individual to feel fulfilled are highly individualistic. Not everyone gets excited to go out and be social, and in this case staying in with a good book might be just the thing needed to feel authentic and at peace. That being said, the rest of this message is geared toward the other type of person, the type that wants to experience the excitement and adventure of all life has to offer. In other words, if sitting at home alone sounds like a death sentence to you, then this article is for you.
(I also want to note that just because you think right now you fall into the first category doesn’t necessarily mean that’s actually what fulfills you. Avoiding social activities out of indifference is different than avoiding them out of fear or anxiety).
For those who dream of more adventure, those who want exciting stories to relive and retell, and for those who want (as the saying goes) to “skid in [the grave] broadside in a cloud of smoke, thoroughly used up, totally worn out, and loudly proclaiming “Wow! What a Ride!” then I want to share the biggest piece of advice I have for creating more adventure in your life.
When faced with a decision, like most people I usually weight the pros and cons of each option. When there is a clear winner from this perspective, the correct choice is obvious.
However, what do you do when the pros and cons are equal?
For example, my brother recently got engaged and he quickly asked me: would I rather be a groomsman or marry him and his fiance as the officiant?
Or imagine you’re at a new restaurant and your stuck deciding between two options, both of which sound good, are about the same price, and neither of which includes a food you’re particularly craving more than the other. How do you choose which entree to pick?
Or say you want to go on your first international trip, and you have a list of places you’ve always wanted to travel. Both destinations are bucket list items, both cost about the same, and you could go to either in the allotted time you have to travel. Which destination do you pick first?
When we’re faced with these decisions with no clear advantageous choice, we face a sort of decision paralysis. We simply get stuck and can’t make up our minds. As a result, more often than not we usually stick to the choice that’s more within our comfort zone. We choose the role that we’re more familiar with (groomsman), we choose the entree more similar to things we’ve eaten before, and we choose the destination that more closely resembles previous vacations we’ve taken in the past (similar culture, climate, activities, etc.).
That strategy generally works pretty well. However, you might find that over the years everything just kind of feels the same. You don’t have too many truly exciting memories or adventures to share. This happens because your default response to these tough decisions is to stay relatively within your comfort zone, to choose what’s familiar. The research is pretty clear on this: comfort kills adventure.
When facing these unclear decisions, my best strategy for overcoming this automatic choice to stay within my comfort zone, experience more adventure, and feel more fulfilled in life, is to ask myself:
| Which option will make the better story? |
For my brother’s wedding, both roles sound equally fun and worthwhile to me. But I’ve been a groomsman in other weddings, so being the officiant is a new experience (one that will likely make this particular wedding more exciting and memorable). I’ll be able to share how I got ordained in order to marry my brother–and that makes for a good story.
When I’m at a new restaurant and stuck between two menu options, I’ll choose the one that’s more foreign to me (but usually still something I might like). Telling people about my experience trying alligator or some other obscure food for the first time (and the faces I likely made while eating it)–that makes for a good story.
Deciding between sitting on a beach in Thailand or running with the bulls in Spain (both trips still in progress, but hopefully completing soon!) I chose the bulls. Yes, the beach sounds nice, in fact I even have a picture of Phuket beach in Thailand as the focal point of my living room. But I’ve been to many beaches. Reliving stories of escaping death running with the bulls is a more exciting story. Let me be clear, this doesn’t mean you can’t do both trips eventually. This distinction simply allows you to set your priorities.
For those of you who long for more adventure, who want to have amazingly awesome memories to relive later in life, for those who want to be outrageously fulfilled, I urge you to ask yourself:
Which decision makes for the better story?
Listen to the audio version of this article below:
Will you do me a quick favor? Will you share this article with just one other person who has complained to you in the past three months about their life being boring? Let me help you help them.