If you read my previous article, you may have noticed I am quite late in producing the 2nd of my five pieces on this topic. Huge apologies, but I was taking my own advice and was in Italy with some friends having a well deserved and exciting break.
Today’s behaviour on achieving health and wellbeing focuses slightly outside of the working environment, but all of the points made can be applied in day to day working life. Particularly my 3 pieces of advice at the end.
2. HAVE ADVENTURES
This may sound absurd, but it is the most brilliant piece of advice I have received in recent years. It also links back to my first point about taking breaks, because living a healthy life is all about actually living as well as working. This point will discuss the importance of creating quality experiences which in turn help us develop relationships. Social relationships are a key determinant for good physiological health and longevity.
Our experiences shape and fulfil us both personally and professionally. Opportunities for meaningful experiences can be quite hard to come by in our busy, technologically driven lives. Days spent sitting behind a computer screen or staring at our phone are not going to have much of an impact on us or create lasting memories.
We are at our best when we are living in the moment and being challenged. We garner fulfilment from situations where things actually happen. In order to create meaningful experiences we have to make ourselves a little bit uncomfortable, maybe even add a little bit of fear.
It is easy to become anxious about things not going to plan and it is common to want to control many aspects of our lives. In my opinion, perfection never usually leads to very memorable experiences. For example, I have been to a boat load of weddings in the past decade, all of which were wonderful events, but they do tend to merge into one after a while (sorry pals! Don’t take offence; I include my own wedding in that). One of the experiences I will never forget is one of my best friends saying his vows in the pouring rain, huddled under an umbrella because no one expected the weather to turn on their outdoor June ceremony. What sounds like the worst possible thing that could happen at a wedding turned out to be a beautiful shared experience that we all continue to talk and laugh about today. No one plans to experience rain on their wedding day…but as my friend George said afterwards, “a wet knot is harder to untie”.
My family and I still reminisce about the time (15 years ago) when we took a wrong turn down a mountain in Greece (forever dubbed “the never ending road of doom”) in an open top jeep and were stuck driving for hours along the most narrow, windy, dirt track roads with a 500ft drop to the side and no railings. We all aged 20 years that terrifying afternoon and never before or since have I heard language like that come out of my mum…but looking back, it was an incredible experience (and an exceptional feat of driving by my dad).
These were all quality, shared experiences. We learnt more about ourselves and each other, such as how we deal with challenges (I bury my head and pretend it’s not happening like the hero I am, my mum gets angry and sweary, and my dad and brother remain calm and level headed).
Through these experiences we also created stories. Stories are how we communicate with one another. It is difficult to create bonds with another person without exchanging stories and experiences. Sharing stories of our experiences is how we create empathy and connect; allowing us to develop and grow our relationships.
Your relationships are what determine your health and happiness more than anything else, so you need to experience life in order to maintain them. Creating experiences together is how we bond for life. We often make the mistake of thinking that we will be happiest when lying on a beach with nothing to do and nothing to worry about. This may be true for about a day…but then we need to start living!
Sure-fire ways to create more adventure:
- Go outside – even if it is just taking yourself for a run outdoors rather than hitting the gym. You are more likely to experience something (even if it is just a more challenging workout) by being out in the world.
- Default to YES – it’s really easy to make excuses and try to avoid doing anything outside of your safe, warm routine. If you find that “I can’t” or “maybe” (which really means no), is your default reaction to most invitations (whether it is going out for a drink after work or going wild camping with your mad friend who does that sort of thing every weekend), why not try saying yes and see where that takes you.
- Live outside of your comfort zone – I am the worst for this. I love my comfort zone! It is so nice and cozy. But as I said above…sometimes we need to find a situation uncomfortable or even a little bit scary in order to thrive.
Let me know what you think and share the best experience you had when you were creating adventure!