What Makes an Adventure?
As humans, we need adventure. It's an ever-shifting itch that motivates us to find meaning. Yet recognizing the itch is often much easier than finding ways to scratch it. Satisfying our need for adventure demands creativity. It forces us to move into the unknown. It requires us to sacrifice comfort and ease, for experiential learning and growth.
Unfortunately, we often seek to satisfy our desire for adventure with an increased quantity of the familiar. We attempt to address our feelings of restlessness by tiring ourselves out. We may...
take on more responsibility at work;
begin an intense exercise regime;
or increase our use of alcohol or drugs.
These changes often increase the stress and pressure that led to our lack of fulfillment in the first place.
We see a need for qualitative change, but only feel empowered to change the quantity of what we already know and do. This leaves us not only unsatisfied but exhausted. While recognizing our desire for adventure is an important step forward, learning where to truly find it is equally important.
To find adventure, we must first understand that things can be difficult without being challenging.
Difficulty - implies that a certain level of experience or skill is needed. To take on extra work responsibilities, we need sufficient experience to assure our managers that we’ll be successful; to increase the intensity of an exercise regime, we must already have attained a certain level of physical fitness.
Challenge - implies going outside our comfort zones. This often requires creative thinking and can be approached by anyone. For example, asking someone out on a date is often uncomfortable, but doesn’t require a specific skill. Instead, it can be done in a multitude of completely different ways.
Difficulty is progressive (linear, familiar, and cumulative), whereas challenge is creative and approachable from many angles and levels of experience. When we fail at something that is solely too difficult, we’re often discouraged, whereas when we fail a challenge we often learn.
Adventure is ideally both difficult and challenging.
Many people find themselves in unfortunately difficult situations, overworked and under-stimulated. If we face that dissatisfaction by increasing the familiar, we must remain aware that we’re increasing difficulty without addressing our need for challenge. We must seek challenges that are uplifting. The growth, realization, and purpose they afford, will allow us to look back and feel as though we've had an true adventure.