I had a week like that. I noticed it particularly on Friday when I went for my normal swim and had so much energy I swam an extra quarter mile past my regular routine, then chased the swim with 30 push-ups. The entire time I felt energized and capable of accomplishing anything I set my mind to.
Mental attitude is the biggest factor in producing results. I was reminded of this truth last Thursday night, when, at the Wild & Scenic Film Festival, I watched a video about three climbers who scaled Yosemite’s iconic El Capitan. What made this climb particularly impressive is that all of the climbers were disabled. One had been born with just one arm (a “minor inconvenience” according to him); the two others had lost a leg each, one due to a climbing fall and the third from bone cancer. Said one of the men:
“The right attitude and one arm will beat the wrong attitude and two arms, every time.”
If you have any doubts, watch this inspiring film:
Mind you, I am not planning on scaling any peaks even with all my limbs—not in this lifetime. But the sense of excitement that spurs these climbers is accessible to all of us at every moment.
For me, it started with an assignment I was given during a workshop with the Wright Institute in Chicago.
Prior to the workshop, I was in a rut. Daily tasks were feeling like a grind and I thought that maybe I needed to travel out of the country for a while to break my routine. Then came the homework for the first night of the workshop: to create an adventure!
The adventure begins…
It was already midnight and class was starting up again at 8am the next morning. What adventure exactly was possible in that short a time frame?
I found out the next morning.
I woke up before my alarm sounded with cramps, in an empty house that belongs to my cousin Zack. I thought to myself, “I could lie here trying to sleep or I could get up and have an adventure!”
I decided to get out of bed. As soon as I entered the shower I remembered that Zack had mentioned a big bathtub with whirlpool jets somewhere in his house. I don’t normally take baths, but this time I decided to interrupt my regular pattern.
I got out of the shower and began searching for the whirlpool, towel wrapped around me, leaving a trail of wet footprints. In the basement, I found a bathtub … full of cleaning supplies.
The search continued, and I finally found the whirlpool, which I filled up … but I couldn’t figure out how to turn on these fabled jets. I got into the tub anyway, but thought, “Hey I’m on an adventure! This won’t do!” So I got out of the tub, looked at all the switches on the walls, and finally figured it out.
Back in the tub, I noticed a line of tea light candles along the side of the bath. But no matches.
My refrain: “I’m on an adventure!”
So I got out of the tub, looking everywhere until I found matches. I was going to do this thing the right way!
After a few minutes the jets turned off and suddenly I was relaxed and floating in a self-made paradise, being held gently by warm water, surrounded by glowing candlelight.
I was so glad I had chosen this adventure, rather than sleeping another hour or going to my default of “I don’t take baths.”
Unexpected treasures, unprecedented energy…
When I went to hang up my towel, for some reason I decided to look behind the door rather than hang the towel where I had put it before. I found two beautiful dragonfly hooks which I hadn’t noticed before.
Who knows what can show up out of a sense of adventure? Who knows what else I had been missing?
My adventures continued in the days following the workshop. Out of a conversation with a friend that felt a bit scary at first, I unexpectedly drove to Minneapolis and stayed two days, all because I decided to take some risks and not let anything stop me.
Today, a week after the conclusion of that workshop, my energy is still high and I can’t wait to discover what’s next.
So how about you? Are you living an adventure at every moment or are you stuck in a rut? Are you letting anything stop you from creating an exciting and energized life?
Whether your challenge is staying upbeat while facing unemployment, creating joy within your current circumstances, or scaling a rock face—it’s all in your frame of mind. The right attitude, moment by moment, means you can have the adventure of a lifetime right in your own backyard.