Oh, the joys of being a parent! That’s how this life attitude came about for me - by watching my young son explore and learn exciting new things.
He discovered natural wonders that we sometimes take for granted like running through garden sprinklers, looking at the moon and rainbows.
Watching my son marvel at the world around him led me to reflect on my own life. I realised that the times I had managed to improve my mental health and get back on the right track was when I explored and tried new things.
I looked into research about how we explore the world around us and discovered that we often fear new experiences. We are more likely to keep doing the same thing over and over, even though we know it doesn’t have a good outcome.
Just think about the number of people who are still working in the same job even though they dislike it a lot.
We don’t allow ourselves to explore enough. Often the fear of the unknown prevents us finding a better way of doing things, so instead we continue in the same way.
The big hurdle is our mindset. As we grow up, we start believing we’ve explored everything around us and consequently we start to think and look to bigger things.
We look to that next big overseas holiday, long service leave or the grand final next year.
Whereas it’s the smaller things in everyday life we need to seek out and explore. For example, leaving early and taking a different route driving to work or shopping, randomly pick a different place to eat rather than going to the same restaurants, go to a new park or different place at lunchtime instead of staying at your work desk.
Allowing yourself to explore brings new opportunities and enjoyment to our lives.
My own example of this came with my longing to return to the activities I did prior to my accident – four-wheel driving, scuba diving and rock climbing. I absolutely loved them all.
As I got stronger in my recovery and more confident with my body, I tried to take up these sports again although I knew in the back of my mind that I wouldn’t be able to do such physically strenuous activities. These interests were all I knew, all I had ever done.
Up until a few years ago I stubbornly kept on trying these activities over and over. I feared that if I tried something new and I really liked it, I may not be able take it up either.
Without allowing myself to begin exploring I would not have ever started professionally speaking or other business engagements, I would never have started down the education pathway because I would have turned down the first opportunity for fear of failing.
My first job after my accident was on a reception desk while prior to my injury I’d been a driller’s offsider. I have served in the infantry, been a builder’s labourer and a trolley boy. None of these jobs particularly readied me up for a reception job.
You must have a willingness to explore and try new things. Don’t be afraid to do something different. When you start to look into them and then progress you begin advancing your life which will trigger the dopamine (happiness) cycle I mentioned in my earlier blog.
Keys thing to remember: Challenge yourself to do something new. Keep your eyes open for opportunities to explore. Allowing yourself to explore will bring new enjoyment to your life.