There’s something to be said for rule-following. Rules and laws are designed to keep us safe, and there’s undoubtedly something comforting about having a semblance of order in this otherwise chaotic world. That said, if you’re trying to “create happy” in your life, it’s also important to discover and embrace the power of adventure, curiosity, and rebellion.
Playing it safe vs. taking risks
There’s a reason it’s called “the comfort zone.” It’s comfortable. We like being around people we know, doing things we know how to do, talking about subjects we know how to talk about. There is comfort in familiarity, and that comfort is valuable. Getting comfortable with another person allows us to form deep and meaningful connections; becoming masters of our crafts allow us to accomplish more within our fields; and learning as much as we can about familiar subjects allows us to communicate with our peers and spread thoughtful ideas.
There’s value in comfort, for sure. But the danger of comfort comes when you fail to recognize that there’s also value in risk.
Learning to step outside of your comfort zone—learning to take creative risks—is how we overcome our fears and grow. If you never took a risk, never tried something new, you would quite literally do the same thing day in and day out.
Education is a risk. New relationships (professional and personal) are a risk. A new career path is a risk.
And yet, we can’t learn without embarking on a path toward education. We can’t build strong relationships without meeting new people. And staying in a career we hate is its own kind of damaging.
Risk can hurt us, but it can also pay off, big time. It’s okay to be careful with your risks, but it’s not okay to avoid or reject them altogether. If you do that, you’re holding yourself back.
The power of adventure, curiosity, and rebellion
I want to talk about risk taking in terms of three things: adventure, curiosity, and rebellion. Separately, each of these has a lot of unique power. Together, they empower you to take creative risks, explore new ideas, and open up opportunities for major growth.
The power of adventure
For most of my life, I’ve never really considered myself an “adventurous” person. Recently, however, I’ve come to realize that when I do allow myself to be adventurous—on a trip or on a project at work, for example—I feel happier, more excited, and more alive.
What do I mean by adventure? I mean something that is:
- Active. Adventure requires us to take action. Adventure is not something that can happen to us.
- Exciting. Adventure is inherently exciting. It should get the heart and/or mind racing.
- Unusual. Adventures are out of the ordinary.
- Risky. Adventure involves some level of risk.
Adventure is powerful because it is engaging. It requires you to be engaged: emotionally, mentally, and physically. Perhaps because of its power to pull you out of your head and into the present, adventure can even be used as a therapy to help with anxiety, depression, and low confidence. It can also help increase problem solving and social skills.
Creativity can be an adventure, if you allow it to be. If you can be engaged in your creative work and allow yourself to take exciting and unusual creative risks, you can bring a sense of adventure to your creative career that will help you be happier and more creative.
How to be more adventurous
How can you add a little adventure into your daily creative life? Here are a few ideas:
- Try new things often and regularly (once a week or once a month). This could be anything from a new activity (e.g. skydiving or a hot air balloon ride) to a new food.
- Get out into nature. Nature is inherently adventurous. Spend time in nature to get in touch with your more adventurous side.
- Join a group. Meeting new people is always an adventure, especially if you’re joining a group with a purpose (like a book club or networking group).
- Dream. Give your creative mind time to wander and dream. What adventures do you want to go on? Why do they matter to you? Even if you’re just making a list of future adventures, defining them means you’re one step closer to making them a reality.
The power of curiosity
Curiosity may have killed a lot of cats, but it’s also done a lot of good in the world. After all, no product, service, or modern invention would exist if at some point no one dared to ask “What if?”
Curiosity is all about questions, and if you think about it, questions present risk. Every question you ask could be answered in multiple ways—some answers you might like, but there will certainly be some answers you’d rather not find (just ask all the cats).
Curiosity reflects desire. When you’re curious, you want to know, see, or experience something. You want to understand, explore, and experiment.
The power of curiosity lies in its ability to create. When applied correctly, curiosity can create solutions, courage, and happiness. It can help you find the answers to your deepest personal questions, or solve some of the world’s biggest problems.
Curiosity may be a risk, but it’s one that’s well worth it.
How to be more curious
How can you develop more curiosity and put that to work for your creative endeavors?
- Ask questions. Curiosity is, essentially, asking questions. When you ask questions, you open the door to trying new things.
- Be open-minded vs. judgemental. If someone told you they wear two watches, how would you respond? Would you ask “Why?” or “WTF?” Yes, I wear two watches, and I have a reason for it (several, in fact). If we immediately pass judgement on something, rather than trying to figure out why it’s done that way, we stifle our curiosity.
- Brainstorm solutions to real problems. Many of us face daily problems that hurt us in some way, but we just accept them as a hard fact of life. But there are likely creative solutions to our problems out there, if we can just allow ourselves to be curious and think of them. Always hitting the snooze button? Put your alarm clock outside your bedroom door. Spending too much time on social media? Set app limits on your phone. Get curious about how you could use your creativity to make your life better.
- Read something new. For a simple curiosity boost, try reading something you wouldn’t normally read: a new genre or a different magazine, for example. Allow yourself to explore a world that is different from the ones you usually spend time in. This will help expand your horizons and your curiosity about what else could be out there.
The power of rebellion
If you’re familiar with any of the Star Wars movies, then you know the power of rebellion. Of course, you don’t have to fly an x-wing to be a rebel.
As much as the rebels of movies tend to be the heroes, in real life, we often think of “rebellious” as a bad thing. We associate the word with teenagers who stay out past curfew and talk back to their parents.
Unfortunately, this negative connotation has completely overshadowed rebellion’s powerful potential for good.
Is rebellion a noble fight against a corrupt power? Or a stubborn, unreasonable resistance to a fair authority?
Objectively, it’s neither. Rebellion simply means resistance to something that is already established, or pushing back against an existing convention. Whether or not rebellion is “right” or “wrong” depends entirely on the cause you’re rebelling against.
But consider this: in order for things to change, there must be rebellion. Someone has to look at an outdated rule or process and say, “We can do better.” Whether they’re right or wrong, only time will tell. But either way, rebellion is the power of change. It’s standing up for innovation, exploration, and a new way of thinking. And there are definitely times when that is called for.
When you see something that you believe needs to change, are you willing to be rebellious and speak out against it?
How to be more rebellious
How can you apply rebellion to your creative life in a productive way?
- Give yourself permission. Remember: rebellion isn’t inherently bad. Sometimes, rebellion is necessary to create positive change. Give yourself permission to be more rebellious when you feel it is necessary.
- Do your research. Rebellion is more effective when there is data to back it up. If you think something needs to change, do some research to find out why. Build your case. Your rebellion will be much more powerful if it’s based in facts as well as emotion.
- Break your routine. Routines can be helpful, but they can also make us feel stuck. Embrace your inner rebel by occasionally breaking up your routine with an unexpected task or activity.
- Be authentic. Voice your opinions. Wear the clothes you like. Listen to music you love. Order the burger instead of the salad, if you want to. Be unapologetically yourself, even if it means doing things that seem a little “out of the ordinary” or require you to break free from societal norms.
When adventure, curiosity, and rebellion meet
The power of adventure, curiosity, and rebellion together is that they create a fantastic recipe for creativity. When you embrace all three, you are open to new ideas, and willing to see the world in a different way. You’re allowing yourself to be the leader instead of the follower. You prioritize progress over convention, and you seek out innovative solutions and hidden answers.
Ultimately, adventure, curiosity, and rebellion can help creatives feel fulfilled, authentic, hopeful, and happy. What could be more powerful than that?