Why a Sense of Adventure Is Important (and 22 Primal Ways to Cultivate It)

Why a Sense of Adventure Is Important FinalIt’s inevitable. Sometimes in life we get stuck. We feel stuck. We get in a rut, and from there all motivation can fizzle and sputter until it craps out entirely. There’s nothing inherently wrong with this scenario. It’s the way of human nature, I’d say. Boredom can be a productive influence if there’s space for it to inspire something new. Alternatively, it can be a deadening force if we’ve boxed ourselves into an uncompromising daily drill. A sense of sameness can numb us over time, lull us really, until one day we wake up and realize we’re not having fun anymore in this game of life. In abandoning novelty and adventure, it dawns on us, we’ve also abandoned ourselves.

This isn’t to disparage routine. After all, set structure often plays a critical role in stabilizing our core lifestyle changes, particularly as we shift toward a Primal take on eating, fitness, sleep and other lifestyle elements. If we’re reinventing the wheel every day, we’re probably expending too much energy unnecessarily. There are details of life that we can honestly work just fine, if not better, on auto-pilot.

For instance, we might find it easier to stay on our Primal track if we have the same breakfast each day during the work week. Alternatively, scheduling a set “green hour” for ourselves that’s the same every day (or weekday at least) can help ensure we regularly get the sun/outdoor benefits we desire. If we see routine as a tool of self-discipline and wise efficiency, we apply it strategically. As a result, we more easily meet our goals and move into the life we want for ourselves.

The danger doesn’t lie in employing routine, but in mistaking it for living.

When every day becomes regimented between work schedules and after school activities, volunteer work and lawn care, play dates, T.V. and bill paying, there’s a problem. We may not feel it at first. After all, our culture today values stability—sometimes above all else. Maturity is too often assumed to be the ability to settle into it. However, if we focus each day solely on comfort and convenience, sooner or later we may find we’ve settled for a life that’s below our expectations.

The results can be complacency, boredom and (eventually) burnout. From that point, too many people react in irrational and self-destructive ways. Ironically, it’s often not so much against the routine structure and artificial expectations that put them in a rut, but as against the core activities, major goals and key relationships in their lives.

But when we live in a way that balances strategic structure with meaningful adventure, we have the chance to continually ground our lives in what matters most to us while also regularly propelling ourselves toward new experiences. We simultaneously keep our values (including our health integrity) and expand our lives.

Adventure is about embracing the unexpected, venturing risk, letting things come to us. We take a break from the endless planning, acquiring and polishing of life. We deliberately release control and welcome an element of surprise and challenge. In doing so, we encounter new dimensions of aliveness (or Life with a capital L as some would say) and, in doing so, often feel or even discover new aspects of ourselves.

The “spirit of adventure,” for me, is the continual willingness to meet and be moved by the unexpected, larger forces and possibilities in life. There aren’t many concepts more primal in the original sense than that. Grok in his day had infinite time to think, wander, and explore. Life wasn’t systematized in his Outlook calendar. He accepted it for the most part as it came to him, and with it came generous shares of novelty and awe (with flashes of danger, which offered its own thrill when it didn’t cost him life or limb).

Today our perpetual busyness and distractibility drives a wedge between us and those instincts. We dictate what we need to do each day and too often circumscribe our realities with that limited vision. We tend to live as if we know it all (or at least all that matters) collectively and individually. Not only is that bunk, but it’s an incredibly dull way to move through life.

I prefer to act as if there’s always something new and enriching to be learned, seen and experienced. And I’ve never been disappointed. It just seems to work that way. If you assume adventure is contrived, adverse or out of reach, it will be. If you believe it’s an enriching, inborn aspect of you, you’ll find (and appreciate) it regularly and benefit from it.

By embracing adventure, you accept the value of mixing things up by trying new approaches to health, life, relationships and vocation (among other things). You open up the energy and idea exchange with the world around you. Suddenly, everything can be seen as feedback. In throwing caution to the wind and seeking out new (and possibly uncomfortable) situations, you’ll be in a position to discover hidden talents and passions. You’ll be able to experiment with more fulfilling ways to eat or work. You’ll likely stumble upon more efficient or creative ways to move and play.

In short, you’ll take off the blinders that keep you on the same track you’ve always been on (and dislodge yourself from any entrapping boredom and sabotage that can come with being stuck). In this regard, adventure is a potent (and Primal) antidote to the modern scourges of self-limitation and malaise.

So, how can we embrace adventure as a Primal force in our lives to enrich us, to move us forward, and to expand our sense of what’s possible? The idea here is less about life-endangering stunts (although those can have their merits, too) and more about expanding one’s field of experience to see what shows up and how it can enhance our Primal life. Let’s look at a few prospects rapid-fire style. And I hope you’ll add your own to augment this list.

22 Primal Quick Tips to Cultivate a Sense of Adventure

1. Seek out some exotic foods—whether you make it, find it or order it.

2. Take a calculated risk in your career by applying for a different position or attending a new conference or training event.

3. Moonlight a few hours a week doing something that’s purely for fun.

4. Learn something by taking a class—related to an outdoor skill, a current/desired profession, a personal hobby, or a new interest.

5. Flex your work hours to make better room for activities you enjoy.

6. Go somewhere new every morning before work this week.

7. Give one day of every weekend to road tripping (or biking to area destinations) this month.

8. Set up a social event with people you normally just keep up with online.

9. Climb something new every week for a year.

10. Hit a new park every weekend through the end of the summer.

11. Travel to a state (or country) you’ve never visited.

12. Do something totally novel during your lunch hours or work breaks this week.

13. Try 3 human-powered modes of transportation you’ve never used before.

14. Say yes to the next five activities or opportunities that comes your way.

15. Exchange houses/apartments with someone for a week.

16. Go to camp this summer. (Yup, camp for adults is really a thing—a very good thing.)

17. Build something this summer by yourself or with someone else.

18. Devote an entire night or afternoon once a week to doing (start to finish) a creative project based wholly on whim (and available materials).

19. Teach yourself to cook a totally new and impressive Primal meal, and find someone who’s never eaten at your home to share it with.

20. Grow something you’ve never attempted before.

21. Design and set up your ideal Primal play space in your yard or (with portable tools) in a public area.

22. Commit to a detailed daily journal or photo journal for a week in which you record every novel encounter and awe-inspiring experience. And observe the power of intentional awareness.

Thanks for reading, everyone. What are you doing to keep adventure alive and well in your summer? Share your ideas and stories in the comment board, and have a great end to your week.

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About the Author

Mark Sisson is the founder of Mark’s Daily Apple, godfather to the Primal food and lifestyle movement, and the New York Times bestselling author of The Keto Reset Diet. His latest book is Keto for Life, where he discusses how he combines the keto diet with a Primal lifestyle for optimal health and longevity. Mark is the author of numerous other books as well, including The Primal Blueprint, which was credited with turbocharging the growth of the primal/paleo movement back in 2009. After spending three decades researching and educating folks on why food is the key component to achieving and maintaining optimal wellness, Mark launched Primal Kitchen, a real-food company that creates Primal/paleo, keto, and Whole30-friendly kitchen staples.

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25 thoughts on “Why a Sense of Adventure Is Important (and 22 Primal Ways to Cultivate It)”

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  1. Such a great post! Thank you, Mark. I guess I have to go order some offal

  2. Such a timely article for me! I’ve been feeling in a rut for a while now and have been looking to shake things up a bit. Great insight as usual!

  3. You’ve inspired me. I’m ready for a Primal adventure! Who wants to go camping/paddle boarding/rocking climbing? 🙂

    1. Hey Dave, here’s a #14 opportunity for you: be at Grand Teton in 11 days for a backcountry backpack trip. Mark dictates that you say yes. 😉

  4. How about a combination of adventurous tasks? Spelunking while eating ghost pepper-marinated gizzards and yodeling? If that doesn’t bring forth new perspectival horizons, I don’t know what will.

  5. Yes, yes and yes. I think a micro adventure will be in the books for me this weekend. Thanks for the motivation, Mark!

  6. Complacency, boredom, getting stuck in a rut: all of these things creep in SO easily if you don’t make the effort to mix up your routine. I try to pick up new classes/activities whenever I can to keep things fresh. Sometimes just living in spontaneity, even when choosing small things, helps (whether food, a weekend excursion, etc.) A little bit of non-planning can go a long way in relieving the crunch of monotony.

  7. Nature is one of my favorite backdrops for adventure. Something about the sights, sounds, and smells of being out in nature puts you in a place of both calm and novelty at the same time. When you treat the outdoors like your playground, whether hiking, climbing, or investigating, your environment becomes one big opportunity for adventure.

  8. Just completed #17
    My husband & brother built me a new dining table & benches. Then I sanded, stained & finished them. Are they perfect? No. Perfect for me & my family? Yes!
    Hard work & so proud of our accomplishment.
    Guess that means Pinterest is primal!

  9. I’m great at chasing the big adventures (like heading out for 5 days in the Teton backcountry next week). I’m even ok on the weekend adventures. But I get caught up in my routines and lose sight of the opportunities for weekday adventure, so this post is a great reminder.

    It’s time to update my 2016 list of goals, and #’s 4 and 22 will likely be on it.

  10. Although I think this is a good post in theory, I’m perfectly happy with my daily same old life. I don’t have the money or opportunity (or time) to do a lot of things I’d maybe like to do but my simple life suits me just fine. This feels a bit like when people ask you what you did at the weekend and you feel like you should have something exciting to say each time rather than I just spent time with my family and slept, even though you enjoyed it!

    1. +1. There’s a lot to be said for same-old, same-old. Adventure automatically becomes less appealing as you get older, particularly if you’ve already “been there and done that.”

  11. I used to think adventure just meant traveling to new places, but I realize it means so much more. I thrive on a day to day routine (especially a good morning routine) but I try to always have a sense of adventure. I’m always up for trying new foods, and activities. The next big adventure I want to try is cliff jumping. Life definitely begins when you step outside your comfort zone!

  12. Very inspiring! Even though it wasn’t exactly planned, its like my life has been one long unexpected event (adventure) after another. Short breaks of (boredom? not really) are sometimes welcome for me.

  13. Definitely! Renovating our fourth house, getting married, visiting Thailand, running a blog, and learning country swing this year 🙂
    I want to view life as an adventure whether it’s building a life with someone I love or traveling to an exotic new place.

    1. You’re making me tired just reading all this Becky … think I’ll take a nap.

  14. Approach anything with the mind if a child and it will seem new! That makes everything an adventure.

  15. My best friend recently acquired a 10 acre “homestead in process” in NY State – and my 2/5yo grandson and I have camped there several times this year – this weekend we gathered wild raspberries and herbs, barbecued a lovely primal dinner, sat around the bonfire with family and friends, then the tot and I crept off to our tent in the pasture. A massive storm battered us, we got a little damp, but the sounds and vibrations and sensations of the rains experienced from inside our tent in a remote field were both magical and beautiful and at times terrifying – my senses were focused in a way I rarely experience, listening and “feeling” for any threat of thunder/lightening that would require a retreat to a more solid shelter. “Awe – a feeling of reverential respect mixed with fear or wonder.” An over-used word today, but a truly apt word for what I felt Saturday evening – the very power of the weather around us forcing the recognition of just how tiny and helpless we can be. The rainbow in the morning felt like a symbol of victory, a fist-bump from God that we had survived what the earth threw at us in the dark of the night.