A few years ago we were in Mexico. We looked at the map and saw a great hike we could take to a delicious restaurant. What we didn’t know is that we were about to go out of our comfort zone and stretch ourselves! We climbed rocks and hillsides with ropes while following our 20-year-old son. We ended up at our goal…a beautiful tropical beach at that delicious little restaurant.
Another travel adventure… to Costa Rica a few years before. We hesitated to stop at this roadside Ceviche stop (see above picture). Our hesitation? You should never eat seafood at a little roadside stop in a hot, humid developing country! The seafood might be bad. So we passed it by. Then we realized we’d gone down the road too far once more. We turned around and passed the roadside ceviche again and this time stopped. We were just too hungry! And we love ceviche. It was incredible! Later we were sorry we hadn’t ordered more.
Travel has often helped us to leave our comfort zone and stretch ourselves but not stress ourselves. We do a lot research. This learning is so much fun, looking at maps and hotels online. We find out as much as we can and then go for it. When you land at the airport, you’re not quite sure what to expect. To take a ride in a foreign taxi, try out a new monetary system, new food, or a new language can be a little scary. We love traveling outside the comfort zone. We all feel empowered when we return home.
Kids leave the comfort zone often, whether at school, playing with friends or at sports practice. They don’t even know what risks they are taking. What a risk it is for a baby to get up and walk again when she’s fallen; or a student to walk into a new classroom; to raise your hand to answer a questions and possibly be wrong; deciding to try a new food or drink; to get back on the bike when you’ve fallen and skinned your knee. Children have billions of neurons talking to each and are building new ones all the time as they learn something new.
What makes us adults hold back? Why don’t we “get back on the bike” when we’ve fallen? What is it about getting older that makes us hesitate? Our love of routine and the comfortable, our fear of failing? Sometimes we like to stay with the familiar even if it makes us unhappy. Human are the only species that have the capacity to imagine something going wrong in the future.
“What great thing would you attempt if you knew you could not fail?”
~Robert H. Schuller
By risking failure and trying something new you often find out more about yourself. You feel fulfilled. Stretch yourself out of that rut. You’ll often find that it’s easier than you thought. What are you afraid to try? What do you have to lose? What are you putting off?
• a career change?
• a book to write?
• time with your kids?
• a trip to take?
Why else is it important to do something new? You are helping your brain. Children are constantly creating new “synapses” between neurons. Think of it as a big telephone system, with the synapses being the wires. As we age, synapses can deteriorate. Besides age, stress, lack of stimulation, or toxins can help speed along this deterioration. Scientists have found that learning something new can helped rewire the brain. Synapses can grow back. It’s like brain exercise!
What can we do that our kids do so naturally? Do you have to jump out of a plane to try something new? No, there are simple things to do. Here are 9 brain exercises to get you started:
1. Change routine in the morning. If you’re a late riser, wake up early. If you’re always up, early sleep in.
2. Eat at a new restaurant, order something new at an old one.
3. Cook a recipe that you’ve never tried.
4. Do puzzles, mental ones or with pieces.
5. Take a class or learn something by yourself on the internet (like reading about doing something new!)
6. Learn a new language. There are some great videos on youtube.
7. Brush your teeth with your left hand if you’re right handed and vice versa.
8. Listen to another radio station.
9. Do mental math.
You can learn a lot about trying new things from your kids. And as they get older, they can learn from you stretching yourself. Then they won’t afraid to try something they’d like to do when they’re an adult.
So, in 2018, take a hike that’s a little challenging or try that roadside ceviche! You may end up with the meal of a lifetime!
HAPPY NEW YEAR TO ALL!!!
And remember…If not now, when?
“A ship in harbor is safe – but that is not what ships are for.”
~John A. Shedd