10 Ways to Cultivate an Adventurous Spirit

Erin in Petra by photo GoErinGoI was having lunch with my friend Jane last week and she commented on my “adventurous spirit.” This sort of struck me, since I never really thought about myself in that light, although given my affinity for living on the edge (in so many ways), I guess it’s an apt description.

And so our conversation got me thinking about what are the characteristics of someone who’s adventurous? And how do you cultivate these attributes if you want to lead a more adventurous life? Here’s what my pondering produced:

What is it to be Adventurous?

In thinking about how I would define “adventurous,” several words came to mind: inquisitive, active, outgoing—-as well as fearless and foolish!

I actually think I was born with an adventurous personality. For instance, my mother often tells me stories of my refusal to stay in the stroller. As a two-year old, I would escape as soon as her back was turned, racing down the aisle of the grocery store or hiding in the clothing racks. I don’t remember exactly, but apparently I felt the need to run far and fast given the chance.

Erin in Urgup Turkey photo by GoErinGoI also think being adventurous is a learned behavior. Many of you know that my family moved overseas when I was 15 years old (to the beautiful city of Auckland, New Zealand). So my parents were modeling adventurous behavior. At a young age, I came to see the world as wide open and that as an adult it was possible to put your work life on hold and have a big adventure.

I guess I learned that lesson well since it didn’t take me long to spread my own wings. After graduating from college at age 22, I headed to Hong Kong without a job or knowing anyone. I was emboldened with $1,000 in my pocket and the belief that I could make my way without any known path to follow. I ended up staying more than 4 years, getting a graduate degree, and landing my first real job in publishing. It was such an exciting time!

So I was born with an adventurous spirit and also had parents who personified this trait. But whether its an innate behavior or not, I still believe that you can cultivate an adventurous attitude at any point in your life.

10 Ways to Cultivate an Adventurous Spirit

Just to start off, I don’t think being adventurous means you need to go abroad. You can explore new terrain right in your own backyard. And so here’re 10 ways that you can cultivate an adventurous spirit just by changing your perspective and embracing the unknown:

1.  Go on an unplanned outing. Set aside a day where you have no commitments, and simply get in the car and drive or walk out your door. You might be surprised where you end up!

2.  Put away the phone and your iPod. Tuning into your surroundings is a great way to live in the moment and can alter your perception. Listening to conversations, city noises, and children playing, can literally expand your senses.

Erin in Caves, Urgup Turkey photo by GoErinGo3.  Visit a local market. Whether it’s a fish market, farmers market, or flea market, it doesn’t matter. What matters is that you’ll have a new shopping experience. And while perusing the stalls, talk to the vendors about what they’re selling and how it’s made.

4.  Prick up your ears. Ever hear a zydeco band play? Go to a country music concert? Bop along to a ska band? Now’s your chance to be transported by a novel music experience. Live music is great, but you can even just tune into a new radio station.

5.  Try a new fashion on for size. Reticent to wear a colorful scarf, a jaunty hat or a big bold piece of jewelry? Time to model a new you! And if you’re not comfortable, you can always remove the offending garment (as long as it’s not your pants…)

6.  Set aside the menu. Next time you visit a restaurant, instead of looking at a menu, look at what other people are eating. Try ordering your meal based on how much others are enjoying their food. You might just add a bit of spice to your life!

7.  Get lost on purpose. This is my favorite weekend treat – heading to a city neighborhood that I don’t know much about and wandering around. Getting a little lost is a great way to look at the world in a new way.

8.  Carry a camera. Sometimes just by carrying my camera, I become more engaged in my surroundings. By looking through the lens, I sometimes see what’s right in front of me from a whole new angle.

9.  Make conversation. Too often we resort to searching online for a quick answer to a question or even to get directions. Try to ask a person instead. Open up the conversation, you might be surprised by what someone has to say. The best person to strike up a conversation with? A taxi driver — They have a ton of stories!

10. Loose Time. Throw your schedule out the window for a day. Try switching it up by working at night and playing during the day. Or throw away your watch. Simply eat when you’re hungry and sleep when you’re tired. By not following a routine, we gain a bit more freedom to follow our own internal clock.

What do you think? Willing to go in a new direction? Would love to hear if you felt more liberated or a greater sense of freedom or more perceptive of your surroundings. I’m also curious if a small step toward opening up your horizons will lead you toward a bigger appetite for adventure. I think it just might!

Want to read more about how to change your perceptions about your environment? Check out these posts:

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This entry was posted on Sunday, March 24th, 2013 and is filed under Erin Now.

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