2023 October 3 Change and curiosity - live life fully

Oct 03, 2023

Hi, this is Jim Cranston from 7EveryMinute and 7EveryMinute.com, the podcast and website about reimagining your life. Thanks for joining me today to talk about change and curiosity. So let's get started. If you like what you hear today, please leave a like, tell your friends and send me a message.


Last week, I was traveling to New Hampshire, a state I really enjoy. I used to live there, and I always enjoy any excuse to get back, even if it's for work. Besides varying my schedule, it also brought a lot of changes into my life, both by seeing people I haven't seen in a number of years and by just being in a different environment.


That can be invigorating in itself. I'm going to be talking about solo schools. As it turns out, I'm going to be heading north again in the near future, but this is for a medical recertification for my Wilderness First Responder Certificate. They helped me help so many injured people over the years. It's not only what you do, but it's what you help other people to do. This is a great example of that.


This year is going to be a little different because the course I need, my recertification, wasn't being offered in October this year, so I'm attending a different affiliated school in Vermont, a complete change of scenery. It's a change, yes. Some things will be the same, but I'm very familiar at Solo Schools with the main campus, the people who work there, the area where I walk. It's a very familiar environment to me. I've been there repeatedly for recent vacations and taking the class again. 


Plus, I'm actually considering camping in the back of my trusty old pickup truck instead of in a hotel. I know van life is all the rage for the past number of years. Where I'm going is in a beautiful area, and I thought I might as well take advantage of the beauty of autumn instead of just going and staying in a hotel in a standard little box. 


Why do I mention all these things? In reality, I could have rearranged my schedule to go back to the main campus at Solo Schools up in the same town for my course, or I could have just found a hotel in Vermont. I actively chose to do something different in all those cases.


Life, especially when directed by an inner mind, is funny in some ways. As we often talk about, our subconscious brain wants to keep us safe. That's its number one job. If it worked yesterday, then do it today. But there's another part of our brain, our conscious mind, that knows if you never try something new, then you probably won't discover new opportunities.


That leads to this lifelong struggle of balancing risk versus familiarity and comfort. A very important point to note here is that comfort isn't necessarily comfortable. It's really just a known situation where we believe we can readily see the good and bad aspects of it. We may be mistaken in how we actually see that situation, but we tell ourselves that it's okay, because we know what it is. That's where the apparent comfort comes from. The alternative is always scary in a sense because it's an unknown. So our subconscious mind merrily generates all sorts of worst case scenarios in an effort to keep us safe.


We've talked a lot about this in the past. Meanwhile, our conscious mind wants us to explore and see if there are better options available, better ways to do things, new adventures, creative situations, and all the things that make life interesting. But it can also perhaps bring some stress into our life, which our subconscious mind definitely doesn't want to have happen. 


At the same time all this internal struggle is going on in your head, the real world is also bringing you real life. Real life doesn't especially care if what happens is what you expect or you want. It just is. You can control how you react to real life and to situations.


We cover that a lot, but the reality is sometimes things just happen. You can choose how you react to them, but they've still actually occurred. So now we have an interesting three way dynamic playing out. We have our subconscious, which wants to keep us safe. We have our conscious thoughts, which have some degree of curiosity and desire for adventure, and we have the real world bringing us real circumstances, which may or may not align with our experience and our plans. 


Now when some new or particularly challenging circumstance arises, we have two general options. We can ignore it and revert to our safe behavior in our comfort zone, or we can embrace it, and in the process of trying to master it, try to become more skilled and confident, and to work outside, perhaps well outside, of our comfort zone.


When you work outside of your comfort zone, that's where most personal growth occurs. Yes, you can get better if you stay within your comfort zone, but you will usually have gradual, incremental progress. To be clear, there's nothing wrong with that, but it may mean that we don't make the advances in our lives that we really want to achieve.


I'm not just talking about money or business, but anything that matters to you. When you work outside your comfort zone, you may discover ways to not only increase your abilities by say 5 or 10 percent, but by maybe 5 or 10 times, a thousand percent. How amazing would that be if you could advance on some project by a factor of 10x. 


If you were helping three people who were shut ins, and next month, instead of helping four, you were able to get help to 30 people, that would obviously be very satisfying and very self motivating and motivating to others as well. 


Back to my decisions to purposely choose new options over the next couple weeks, why did I do that? One of the big reasons is that I have a number of decisions I'm pondering related to retirement, career, where to live, things like that. I can approach it in two different ways. The comfortable, familiar, incremental way, or the more innovative and potentially riskier way. When you live life in a very conservative way, you tend to become repetitive in your life.


It makes sense. This is good in many ways because it makes the mundane automatic and frees our minds for more important tasks. But if we're not careful, we can over automate and miss out on a lot of life. We've talked about this too. What is interesting is that this can affect both our personal and professional lives or any aspect of our life.


Familiarity truly does breed complacency. We know a way that works and so we stick with it and stop looking for breakthroughs. This is especially true as we age. I have many people tell me they're too old to change or to learn something new. I always try and gently guide them around to the point where they can see that this is really just their subconscious trying to keep them safe. That the new might be very interesting and even compelling. 


By making one quick 10 minute side trip on my way home from New Hampshire, I not only made a few of my friends pretty excited by the pictures of the tidal flats I was able to send, but it made me stop and appreciate an area that I have driven over repeatedly and not really recognized it for the beautiful place that it was.


Plus, for the rest of the trip, it made me that much more aware of all the other areas I was driving through, and realized how much has changed, but how the core beauty was still the same. I got hours of heightened awareness and appreciation for a 10 minute investment of time in doing something a little different, of just stopping to take some pictures and sharing them, instead of rushing back home as fast as I could. 


Change and curiosity are some of the big things that make life interesting. At any age, we have to make the conscious choice to leverage our experiences in ways that make sense, but to not get jaded and stop trying anything new just because it's different. Life is always changing, and we have to have the confidence in ourselves to know that we can adapt, be creative, and still stay true to our core principles, even as the world evolves.


It's often challenging, but I think of my mother, who grew up in a relatively poor and simple little life without a car. Horses were still a popular method of transportation. The vegetable man used to have a horse hooked to his cart when he came around every week. She told me that on many different stories.


She helped her grandmother on the farm. Then later on in her life, saw people fly to the moon, talking cell phones and use computers - all over one normal lifetime. How did she handle it? She learned to use email and Facebook in her 90s so she could keep track of what's going on with her grandchildren.


That was almost 20 years ago, and yet I meet peers today, some of them nearly 40 years younger than she was, and even younger, who say computers and smartphones are beyond them. What they're really saying is that they've built up a view of the world around them that's too scary to venture into.


That's really sad because the world, even today with all those problems, still has a lot to offer us if we're willing to take even baby steps outside our comfort zone, and see what good things we can discover. Even if it means sleeping in the back of an old pickup truck in a new area or not taking the fastest way home for the sole purpose of discovering what the world may have to offer. Little baby steps can lead you to really big changes and bring a lot more creativity and insight into your life. 


That's it for the evening. I hope you can see why sometimes we should just venture out of our comfort zones, even if just a tiny bit, to discover more of the good that's all around us. Your homework (always optional) is to think about ways that perhaps you've held back from doing something you've always really wanted to do, whether it's a trip, talking to somebody in a foreign language, eating somewhere new, eating something new, anything at all. Extra points if you actually go ahead and take even one small step outside your comfort zone and approach it with an attitude of curiosity and adventure, waiting to be amazed instead of disappointed.


Thank you. Remember to have fun. Remember, there are many aspects of life that you can grab onto, discover, and really enjoy. That's it for the evening. Please remember, as always, UKR7.com. There are links to sites that have support for Ukraine. The World Central Kitchen is at WCK.org. They do humanitarian aid across the world.


Please remember the war in Ukraine. It's getting sidetracked. It's actually pretty upsetting because we have an active war going on. We have a lot of other disasters going on in the world and the news is very carefully trying to take our focus off of all of it. Remember, one of the best ways to care for yourself is to care for others because it changes the focus of looking inside to outside and puts all the world into perspective. If you can and you're able, please check them out. Any other way you can help people, it's all good. Thank you very much for considering that. 


As always, thank you for stopping by. If you found something interesting or useful, please pass it along. Please hit that like button. If not, please drop me a comment as to what you'd like to hear. Have a great week. Remember to live the life that you dreamed of, because that's the path to true contentment. Love and encouragement to everyone. See you next week on 7EveryMinute and 7EveryMinute.com. Thank you.


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