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Embracing the Unknown

What do bungee jumping, traveling to a foreign land, and asking for a date have in common? Depending on who you are, these particular examples may be too extreme, too mundane, or not directly relevant, but they all point to the potential for learning that comes with taking a risk. Whether or not you get the results you were seeking when you take a chance and step out of your ordinary routine, your perspective will have been expanded by the attempt.

So, how can we do a better job of viewing risk-taking as positive and energizing instead of scary or intimidating? And how do we shift our focus away from the outcome we expect or think we need and instead focus on and value the risk-taking journey for its own sake? Is there an attitude that we can adopt in order to appreciate more deeply the inherent gifts of embracing the unknown?

Here are some strategies to get you started:

  • Practice saying, “I don’t know” when you aren’t versed in something rather than forcing yourself to come up with a response. See what insights emerge when you let go of needing to have all the answers.
  • Adopt a growth mindset. See mistakes as opportunities for learning and development. Recognize how many times you have been able to learn in the last month and congratulate yourself on your progress.
  • Ask “what if….” If you usually do things a certain way or in a specific order, purposely mix up your routine. See how diverging from the tried and true for an hour or a day can reinvigorate your life.
  • Plunge in with childlike enthusiasm. If you think something might bring you joy, give yourself permission to do it just “because.” See how it feels to get started with only minimal expectations, preparation, or goals.
  • Decide to keep an open mind. Allow yourself to change your mind, be wrong or simply pursue of a new point of view. Commit to acknowledging the uncertainty and ambiguity of life and discover what gifts this mental fluidity affords.
  • Find humor in surprises. View the twists and turns of life as opportunities to take life – and yourself – less seriously. Look for the comedy in the unexpected and consider what about your challenges might also be funny.

As humans we prefer things to be all figured out and neatly ordered into instantly recognizable categories. This is a natural tendency. Yet when we limit ourselves to what we know and makes us feel comfortable, we can miss out on exciting and interesting opportunities that would allow us to expand our thinking and increase our wisdom.

Self-Discovery Tool 52
Embrace the unknown, look at things differently, and try something new. Refresh yourself through experimentation and ease up on the drive to be perfect. Be open. Be curious. See what amazing things life has in store when you take a risk. Although missteps are possible and successes are a terrific bonus, the true value of any risk is in the experience: life’s greatest teacher!


Embracing Surprise, Welcoming Change

Do you feel as if your life is following a predictable pattern, that you are in a rut of your own design? Does it seem that you are living on autopilot, not really noticing what is happening around you or even that there is a world beyond your usual routine?  Sometimes we get so caught up in what we think we know to be true and what we assume is necessary or valuable that we become blind to unexpected gifts and opportunities.

We can end up feeling tired and disconnected, not realizing that we have the capacity to renew our connections to the greater world – the world outside of our habitual beliefs and responses – and embrace the mystery that surrounds us.

What can we do to begin reorient our senses to the myriad of possibilities available? Give these simple suggestions a try.

  • Talk to someone whom you’ve never taken the time to get to know, strike up a conversation with a stranger, or approach someone who seems different from you
  • Ask your loved ones for their opinions on topics you’ve never examined before together
  • Eat something, wear something, or do something that is out of character for you just to see how it feels
  • Let others decide on a plan: take a back seat for a change, go along for the ride, see what unfolds
  • Challenge yourself to reflect and consider how you might do things differently the next time you face a recurring situation or task
  • Make a conscious effort to pay attention to what is happening around you and within you – what do you see and how are you feeling about it?

Self-Discovery Tool 3/43
Cultivate the attitude of wonder – be ready to be surprised. Take notice of your environment, both internally and externally. See how it shifts and changes and be willing to act accordingly instead of relying on your usual assumptions about how things should go or should be. Be open to change – try something small to connect to the many possibilities that could exist if they were only allowed entrance into your life!