Travel To Grow

Understanding The World Through Travel

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May '10

Learning to Jump on Life’s Opportunities

Freezing water

In Canada when the weather is nice we love to go swimming. Even in the summertime however, when the sun is hot, the water we swim in is often still pretty darn cold. Just dipping your feet in can give you a little shock from the temperature, and although you know that once you get in it will be refreshing and wonderful and you’ll shortly get used to it, the process of getting through the cold water shock can be daunting.

There are 2 methods people use in this situation, either they jump right in, or they take it step by step. In the past I’d often go for the step by step method, taking it one step at a time down the stairs and then slowly progressing to the deep end. Your individual body parts have a chance to cool down after each step, but it’s still a long painful process. The benefits are you don’t have that one big shock, the real intensity of the jump… and it’s a lot less scary to take it step by step than to take the plunge.

Today I know this method sucks!

It’s less scary but it takes a lot of time, it prolongs your suffering, you miss out on moments of fun with others who have already jumped, and on top of it all… it makes you look like a sissy!

When you jump into freezing water it’s scary, it’s intense, it’s painful and it’s exhilarating. You get a surge of adrenalin and a big refreshing blast to your system. Moments after though you surface, your body quickly gets used to the change in temperature and you’re ready to enjoy your swim!

Deciding moments

In life there are a lot of small deciding moments. Moments where we are faced with a choice and only have seconds to act before the opportunity may be lost. Whether it’s putting your hand up when the show host says he needs a volunteer, or approaching the beautiful girl who smiled at you, or just following an instinct to take a different path than normal. These moments pass quickly and are usually a little scary but can have a huge impact on your day or even the rest of your life. Taking advantage of these brief opportunities can change you. You can create an unforgettable memory, meet the love of your life, or just discover something new. Missing out on these opportunities will often leave you with an empty feeling of regret, forever wondering what could have been.

It’s often difficult to jump on an opportunity like this when it comes. The fear in your mind comes from the possibility of why acting in this situation could be harmful to you. You might embarrass yourself if you talk to the girl, you could make a fool out of yourself on stage, and following your instinct deviates from the normal routine you know is safe. This fear is often irrational and not all that logical but in that brief moment of action or no action it can feel real.

Hesitation kills. Often before we feel this fear there’s a moment we can act, and it’s only when we hesitate that the fear builds. If we hesitate long enough our mind will even begin to rationalize our fear and give a bunch of reasons we shouldn’t act, and because we are afraid we jump on these reasons as if they are valid even if after the situation passed we wouldn’t think the same about them. We start thinking how instead of jumping into the water we can step in slowly and carefully, but this still causes us minor suffering and by the time we’ve made it up to our waist the opportunity is usually gone.

Our fears job is to protect us from the unknown and it does a good job of it. But in today’s society it’s unnecessary. No real danger can come from talking to that girl, and no real harm can come from performing on stage. And when we miss these opportunities we miss out on too much. Instead we must learn just to jump in.

Learn to jump

Jumping at life’s opportunities is rewarding. Whether the opportunity turns out well or not it’s an experience and all experiences are valuable. It will also leave you with a feeling of pride and increase your self confidence that you were able to act in the face of fear.

So how do we learn how to ‘just jump’? I think it starts at the pool. Walk up to the water, don’t test its temperature, don’t let a single thought enter your mind, don’t rationalize and just jump! Do this in any small area of your life that it applies to. Even if it’s something small and easy like jumping into cold water, the idea is to train your mindset into acting rather than hesitating and rationalizing. This same mindset that applies to something easy like jumping into a pool will serve you with something difficult like going on stage.

The key to learning how to ‘just jump’ is to remain completely in the present moment. Act on your present moment desire without letting any worries about your future cause you to hesitate. Logically in the present moment you know this action won’t cause you any real harm, but letting your mind drift into future projections can help you create an array of ideas not to do it. Keep your mind in the present, don’t hesitate and just jump!

For more extreme training you can also adopt a system where the next time you are afraid of doing something… you HAVE to do it immediately, for the sheer purpose of training yourself not to hesitate and to face your fears. If an opportunity presents itself and the idea of acting on it causes you to hesitate and makes you afraid you say “Dammit! I felt some fear… now I have to do it!” Make it a playful mindset, a silly little requirement placed on yourself. You can lie to yourself to feel better as well “I don’t really want to go talk to that girl, but the idea makes me afraid so… *sigh* …now I don’t have a choice.” Acting on something strictly because it causes you fear might sound a little backwards at first, but there’s no faster way to get out of your comfort zone, build courage and learn to capitalize on all of life’s opportunities.

Look before you leap only applies to cliffs

The common saying is “look before you leap” but as long as you aren’t doing the equivalent of cliff jumping into unfamiliar waters that saying isn’t usually all that important. Most of the things we fear in life can’t cause us any real physical harm, so it’s okay to be spontaneous and act without hesitation.

To get the most out of your travels learning to jump when a situation arises is essential. The lucky thing is, when surrounded by other adventure seekers who love to jump at adventure too, you’ll be far less likely to hesitate and create reasons in your mind not to take part. The adventurous spirit of the group will encourage everyone to face down their fears and to participate in unique opportunities with enthusiasm.

The next time you’re faced with a cold pool of water, or any defining moment of action, stay in the present moment, don’t hesitate, don’t rationalize, and just jump in.

Make a splash and let the refreshing experience invigorate you!

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