Adventure or Anxiety? How an Attitude of Adventure Helps You Fully Enjoy Your Food and Life
This is for you if… 1. you enjoy adventure, or 2. you don’t feel as adventurous.
If you enjoy adventure and you love traveling or trying new things, this post will help you apply that attitude, experiences, and feelings to your whole life. Speaking as somebody who loves adventure myself, “having adventures” is often confined to a specific time, followed by “the rest of my life.” That’s not an adventurous life, just adventurous moments. Let’s expand this concept of adventure to fill all of life.
If you don’t consider yourself adventurous (or there are times or areas of your life where you feel you’re not as adventurous), here’s why you should keep reading:
It’s totally understandable to enjoy the known and comfort of the known (speaking as somebody who also truly enjoys the comfortable “known”).
But life isn’t always comfortable. Your daily known might not be comfortable, you might actually want something different. Maybe you keep coming back to what you know because the known is more comfortable than change.
Maybe you don’t really like traveling, or you like staying at home and experiencing your normal everyday life where you know exactly what you’re going to be doing at any time. I’m glad you enjoy your life. But it doesn’t always happen that way, does it? You don’t always know exactly what you’re doing.
What comes to my mind is the Hobbit and the Lord of the Rings, where hobbits weren’t known for adventure but for wanting to stay at home, be really comfortable, and just enjoy a quiet life. But the adventure was going to happen whether they were willing participants or not.
So basically, in your life, whether or not you feel adventurous, things are going to happen and you get to decide what attitude you’ll have and how you’ll approach those things. Are they going to be full of adventure or anxiety?
Adventure or Anxiety? How an Attitude of Adventure Helps You Fully Enjoy Your Food and Life
This is something I’m learning and practicing more and more. When I do it, I really see a reduction in my stress, and am able to experience all the things that are happening vs living in the future, either stressing about what might be or wishing things were already different. I get to live in the moment.
There are five qualities of this Attitude of Adventure:
- Curiosity and Openness
- Joy in the Moment
- Roundabout Progress
It’s the idea of “And then what happens?!”
What happens when someone’s telling you a really interesting story that you’re feeling really involved in, and then they stop. Suddenly you’re asking them, “What happens next?”
Or you have a big trip or event planned that you’re excited about, and you’re counting down the days until it happens.
There’s an expectation, anticipation, and wondering about the next thing, a sense of “looking forward to.”
Whether it’s more info in the story, a change, a trip… even if it’s something you’re unsure if you’ll like, an attitude of adventure compels you to say, “Don’t stop! I want to know what happens next!”
Maybe things are stressful now, and the future may hold more stress. But, for me at least, not knowing can be more stressful because what I imagine is typically way worse. I look forward to knowing how things will work out, look forward to seeing the next chapter of this story of my life.
Having an eager anticipation of what’s next helps me keep perspective that what I’m experiencing now isn’t what I’ll experience forever. It also reminds me to be hopeful and excited for my future and my goals. And when I apply it to food and eating, it helps me enjoy the moment of a special meal so much more because I’ve been looking forward to it. It encourages me to savor the present because I’ve been growing appreciation for it for so long.
Curiosity and Openness
The idea of discovery, exploration, experimentation, and curiosity generally goes hand-in-hand with the sense of anticipation when thinking about adventures.
Being open to new things, ideas, people… when we travel, we often reserve judgment on those things until we’ve actually learned more about them. Instead of just saying, “I don’t like that food,” many people feel more willing to try new things if they’re on a cool trip and this is part of the experience. Or maybe you’re more willing to talk to somebody you don’t know, possibly partly out of necessity and partly because it’s fun, but those interactions are part of the adventure.
We have a choice: we can choose to say this is really stressful or this is part of the adventure (or it can be both, more in a future post). Either way it’s the same event, same facts, but the attitude you choose will determine your response.
Figure out what’s happening, ask questions, learn more about yourself and other people.
When I’m traveling, I’m more open with myself, more willing to try new things vs tell myself I already don’t like it, or that I’m not “the kind of person who doesn’t like…”
You’re going to have preferences and values, and I’m not saying set those aside. Part of knowing yourself is knowing what those are, and you never have to try everything.
But have an openness about what’s happening around you and in yourself. Maybe you’ve always interacted with food and your body in a certain way. Maybe you’ve always said, “When I lose weight…” or “this is just how it is…” Maybe you’ve heard for years and years that dieting is the way to be healthy, and you’re just starting to consider that there might be another option.
Even exploring that option, that curiosity to learn more, is part of this quality of being open and curious.
Joy in the Moment
We can have goals, like a health goal or to see the Eiffel Tower, but if that’s our only focus, even if we reach that goal (and even if we really enjoy it), we’re going to miss all of the other things in between.
Imagine if your mind was so focused on the Eiffel Tower that you missed really enjoying all the delicious French food. Or if you had one particular version of success and missed all the things that were happening along the way.
That would be sad, right?
How much richer would life be if we were actually able to also appreciate all the other things that are happening, whether they’re positive or negative or neutral?
When we think of an adventure, what comes to mind typically isn’t the destination alone. Typically, “adventure” contains the idea of a journey. The journey is the adventure.
Put another way, maybe you get to see whatever landmark you really dreamed of, but that’s a destination, not an adventure. The journey is the difference between a destination and an adventure.
It’s important to enjoy life along the way and be present in each moment whether it’s enjoyable or not, because otherwise we’re always waiting… even though the adventure is already happening.
It’s happening whether you’re paying attention or not, and if you’re checked out because you’re hoping for something different, then you’re missing out on your life.
You don’t have to enjoy every moment. Having joy and enjoying are two different things. We’re part of this present experience, and it’s not always going to be enjoyable. Enjoyment comes from the outside, and joy comes from the inside. (And it might take some time to figure it all out. I’m working on it, too, so we can do it together!)
It’s also okay sometimes (if we’re talking about emotional management, for example) not to always feel all your feelings all the time. Sometimes it’s not appropriate or safe. But we want to be able to be present in some way in each moment.
When I think about this in terms of eating, I think of how many distractions I have that might impact the joy I get from my food. Sometimes it’s fine, I’ll have distractions or I might even prefer it. But I also like to get the chance to just focus on a meal, from planning to preparing to eating, so I can really savor the process of eating.
In general, it’s pretty accepted that things don’t always go as planned. But I guess I don’t personally accept this because there will be many times when I’ll be frustrated when this happens.
Except that, when I’m traveling, I find that my expectations are different than if I’m in my “real life.” Because of this, I become much more flexible and able to handle things not working out as planned (transportation, luggage, weather, forced change of plans, etc).
The more I practice expanding this Attitude of Adventure to my whole life, the less stressed I feel, and the more I understand (and personally accept) that I can’t predict or control everything in my life. Most of life is watching to see what happens and then responding to it.
For a food example, sometimes a meal or snack isn’t going to be exactly what I want it to be, or what might even be most satisfying in that moment. That’s okay. I can be flexible, knowing that I’ll have other chances to eat what I want and what will satisfy. It also means I don’t need to be super strict about my eating or have many food rules, and I can flex to fit what’s available.
Related to the idea of flexibility is the element of roundabout progress. Progress isn’t always linear, and at times progress doesn’t even look like progress.
When you’re on an adventure, you might get lost, you might take a wrong turn, or you might end up doing something you weren’t expecting to do. That could be extremely frustrating, or it could teach you or show you something new and different. You could find out something you’d never known otherwise.
Maybe you walk by the cutest little hole-in-the-wall restaurant or a quirky museum that you never knew existed. Maybe you meet a local who tells you all the best recommendations and ends up changing your entire itinerary. Or you’re going on a hike and there’s a fork and you choose to go left and it wasn’t the scenic overlook you were expecting, but instead, you get to see all these other cool things, like wildlife and a tree growing in a strange shape.
All of those examples have one thing in common: you wouldn’t have seen, done, or learned those things if you’d gone down the exactly linear path you’d expected to take. You only saw those things because it didn’t go “right” the first time.
Imagine how boring it would be if you were listening to a story or watching a movie and everything worked out exactly like you were expecting. Sure, there may be some comfort in knowing the outcome, but even in a known outcome (think Hallmark or chick flick movies), the adventure is in the conflict. We want to hear about the ups and downs and how people figure things out so they can eventually get to the happy ending.
The roundabout areas of our lives add interest and adventure, and can teach us things we wouldn’t otherwise know.
Here’s another example. Let’s say you try something (like Intuitive Eating) and you feel like it didn’t work out. You can get frustrated, feel like it won’t work for you, and give up. Or you can learn from it (which doesn’t mean you can’t feel frustrated, but don’t let the frustration stop you from learning). You might not like it, but it still teaches you something, or gives you ideas for the next time you try something similar. And the only way you get this particular opportunity to learn is by not going directly from A to B.
Tying it all together… it’s that openness and curiosity to say, ok, I’m here, in the present moment, let’s look at what’s happening right now and respond to it, learn what I can, and look forward to how this is all going to work out in the future.
Keeping an Attitude of Adventure has helped me…
- be so much less stressed
- changed my attitude so that I can fully enjoy my life on the way to my goals (not just when I reach my goals)
- let me experience my life in the moment
For goal-driven people, if we have something in our minds for so long, we can get fixated on this goal as an endpoint, only being satisfied if this condition is met, or if we reach this goal. That means that we miss out on so much extra life, which will all feel like wasted time when we look back on it… especially if we don’t end up meeting that goal, or if it takes us longer than anticipated.
Being able to see life as an adventure really can make all the difference.
What does adventure mean to you, and does it apply to your whole life? Let me know in the comments!