02/25/2016 09:34 am ET Updated Dec 06, 2017

How I Discovered the Joys of Exploring

Each of us is born an explorer, ever-curious about everything. Just watch any toddler. Later on, our unchallenged assumptions about what it means to be an adult can get in the way. When I chose to turn inward to examine my long-held beliefs and pay attention my yearnings, I began to notice my thinking. I became aware of how often my fears and insecurities were keeping me from exploring life. The more clarity I gained about the ways my mind was limiting me, the freer I felt to respond to my curiosities. With every new insight, I found my life becoming more stimulating, fun, vibrant, and expansive. This is how I discovered the joys of being an explorer:

1. I realized that lots of things are relatively safe to explore. Most of us have trapdoors in our minds that snap shut quickly when we're faced with an idea that is unfamiliar or makes us uncomfortable. Or maybe it's something we've decided ahead of time that we're not capable of. For me it was doing art. When I started to notice how the trapdoors in my mind were limiting the possibilities in my life, I decided to look at my beliefs about my creative abilities. I gave myself permission to try drawing and painting in the privacy of my own living room. By doing this, I found a new form of expression for myself. From then on, I began allowing myself to be more adventurous and consider novel approaches, new ideas, and alternative paths in other areas of my life. As I explored, I was delightfully surprised to see more aspects of my individuality emerge.


2. I allowed myself to safely move beyond my comfort zone. Sticking to day-to-day routines and keeping life the same might be comforting, but it does not support us in becoming the best of who we are. When I began to choose opportunities for trying something new, I was able to experience more of what life has to offer. I discovered that intentionally seeking novel experiences and variety supports me in being more flexible and adaptable. This keeps me mentally alert and resilient, with the result that life is a whole lot more enjoyable.

3. I was willing to challenge my limiting beliefs. Old beliefs can stick around for years, and when they aren't challenged, they can limit our ability to recognize opportunities. If I believe I'm not smart enough to learn something, maybe I need to revisit that idea. Am I willing to be a beginner? Am I willing to learn, accept imperfections, and not be the best at something? If it's important to learn something that is challenging, are there resources to help me? If so, am I willing to use them? When I identify a limiting belief like "I'm not smart enough," I ask myself these questions:

  • Does this belief represent a fear?
  • Is this belief true today?
  • Does this belief continue to serve me?
  • How can I replace this belief with one that is current and true?

4. I identified new possibilities and opportunities that already existed in my present life. Most of the time, we're surrounded by opportunities and possibilities that we haven't noticed or explored. If I crave a change in my life, for example, I may not be able to change jobs at the moment, but I might be able to vary the ways I use my nights and weekends. I may not be able to move to a different location, but I might be able to change the paths I travel on a daily basis. I may not be comfortable in large groups of people, but I can accept invitations to small gatherings and issue invitations of my own as I make a conscious effort to become more social. Each intention and each exploration brings new information and new discoveries.

5. I learned the importance of "putting on my brave." Brave is different for everyone. While one person might think it brave to dine in a restaurant alone, another person might define brave as learning to skydive. Both are completely valid. If I want to try new things, if I want to step outside my comfort zone, if I want to have interesting and novel experiences, I will need to know how to "put on my brave." Whenever an experience leaves me feeling insecure, uncertain, or uncomfortable, that's when I know I need to put my brave on. The strength for this comes from a place deep within that seeks to discover the best life possible. When I learned that I can put on my brave to try something new or to challenge old beliefs, my life began to expand. Every time I put on my brave, I'm able to explore even further.

As we entertain possibilities and initiate novel action, we experience the joys of exploring our own selves and create a life of discovery. We stimulate the vastness of our imagination and we nurture our curiosity. The rewards encourage us to stay open to the journey that awaits.