Never underestimate the power of a good thrill. It goes right to the bloodstream and lingers in the mind for days, sometimes weeks, pumping high moments higher. Extreme buzzes are good for the soul, so why don’t most people monkey bar from one insane adrenaline rush to the next – base jumping to ice climbing to heli-skiing? Wild guess, but lack of funds and critical skills needed to not die, leaping from plane to mountain could be reason enough.
It’s also easy to overlook some of the most accessible ways to get the heart pumping. So, if boarding down an active volcano in Nicaragua isn’t on your calendar? Join the club. Why risk personal safety for a few laughs? For starters, defying your inner worrywart is fun and almost always results in a good story to tell, but it goes deeper than that. In a Psychology Today article on ‘The Addictive Nature of Adrenaline Sports,’ neuroscientist, Dr. Michael Davis said that fear triggers the body to release endorphins (pain mitigators), dopamine and norepinephrine (performance enhancers). Adrenaline junkies seek out fear-inducing adventures in part, for the potent chemicals thrills release in the brain, which are stronger than cocaine, speed and any other single drug, without the high stakes.
Who doesn’t deserve a serious rush every now and then? Dust off the to-do list and perk it up with some of these ill-advised activities. None require a passport or hefty bank account. They made the cut by scoring points for intrigue, do-ability and being sort of dangerous. These activities aren’t for everyone. Some may strike you as terrible ideas and maybe they are, but try them anyway.
10. Skinny Dip
In these days where nearly everyone with a cell phone is not only armed with a camera but capable of uploading and sharing a picture in the blink of an eye, chances are high that taking it off in public will come back to haunt you. Video killed the radio star, don’t let phone cams kill voyeurism. Enjoy the feel of water all over and remember to your keep eyes up here, buddy, if you don’t want to creep out your fellow nuddies.
9. Bike, Drink, Repeat
For many, the idea of exploring wine regions by bike conjures images of tipsy riders weaving around from one vineyard to the next, singing “La-di-da”. But traveling on pedal power insists you pace yourself. Cyclists pause between stops to cool off and sip a glass, not to chug-a-lug. Bike tour operators have been around since at least the mid-1960’s and offer excursions through wine regions all over the world, or plan your own day visiting small winemakers close to home. Do partake in bready snacks along the way, wear a helmet and stick to back roads with wide shoulders.
8. Tough Mudder
Would you rather be electrocuted, or jump into a tank of freezing water aptly named the Arctic Enema®? Never mind! Register for a Tough Mudder event and you get to do the whole shebang in one excruciating day. But why? Once you’ve flown through fire, snaked through narrow pipes and dealt with the barbed wire pit of muddy water waiting at the end, you know you have the grit to get through anything.
7. Quit the Job You Loathe
Pragmatically, quitting a job before you have another one lined up and zero safety net, is ill-advised, not to mention irresponsible. But it feels so good! According to Forbes, people stay 4.4 years at a job on average. With an average life span (in the U.S.) of 79.8 years, that amounts to 3.5% of your existence. That’s too much time feeling bored, capped or generally unhappy. Leave and the odds of finding something more rewarding are in your favor. As long as you don’t intend on using your crappy boss as a reference, leaving on good terms is optional. You’ll burn the professional bridge, but shoddy bridges collapse all the time anyway.
6. Ghost Hunting
Ready to creep yourself out? Then go to the nearest haunted site stat. Every town or city has one. Why wait till October to go on an overpriced itchy hayride, so some kids in ripped clothing and makeup will chase you around till someone falls down, when you can go hunting for the real thing? There’s always the possibility that some nasty demonic entity will attach itself and follow you home, but that’s what friends are for – to lower your odds of being CHOSEN.
5. Go Camping Alone
Spending a long stretch of time outdoors on your lonesome is more of a mental challenge than it may seem at first. The serenity of solitude has a profound impact once you’re at ease with it. It’s the transition from locked doors to a zipped tent that can make you regret ever reading Clive Barker. Let people know the where and when, and don’t forget to pack bug and sicko spray.
4. Storm Chasing
To be a storm chaser is to turn the table on nature, run towards, rather than from the eye of a storm. The unpredictable nature of weather makes this one of the more dangerous past times. With growing crowds of storm tour operators, film crews and fellow thrill seekers with an appetite for bad ideas clogging up escape routes, you’ll be in trouble should a tornado turn in your direction. Plus once you’re in a tornado’s path, a vehicle is the last place you want to be and yet, you can’t storm chase without one. It all adds up to the ultimate thrill of the chase and a front row seat to Mother Nature’s spectacular demonstration of pure power. Veterans advise newbies to keep a full tank of gas, stay at least one mile away from the action and remain hyper alert, which means don’t get spellbound by the sight.
3. Get Lost
It’s next to impossible to get lost when you’re on familiar ground – this is one of the reasons people love to travel. The familiar becomes new again when you’re happily disoriented, not knowing what’s around the corner. Turn off the GPS next time you’re out of town and choose the unknown at every turn. Losing control is among the most prevalent fears. People assume they can manage the future by avoiding uncertainty, but all they manage to do is eliminate new possibilities. Follow the advice that countless young girls have been belting out on repeat for months and “Let it go”. Just don’t freak out when you realize you have no clue where you are or how to get back.
2. Urban Exploration
It starts innocently enough: you hear there’s an abandoned place not far away. It has a history because any abandoned building worth its graffiti has a story to tell, often a dark one. Curiosity is peaked and it’s only a matter of time before the lure of the forbidden hooks you, too. Making your way through an abandoned structure can be a physical challenge, depending on the state of decay, but it’s worth it. Your senses spring open at ever eerie turn and you understand what it is to be fully stimulated in every way at once. Your mind will race with questions while the creative side paints pictures of the past over rust and rats.
Bring a buddy, a flashlight and wear shoes with tread. Read up on the history to form a deeper connection with your favorite spots.
1. Test the 10,000-Hour Rule
Hedonism argues that pleasure is the only intrinsic pursuit in life. That sounds about right, but the pursuit gets dulled when it focuses on too many things that offer only a little pleasure.
How good does it feel to be great at something? Author Malcolm Gladwell quantifies the number of hours necessary to achieve mastery of an instrument, craft or any other task in his book Outliers. SPOILER ALERT: It’s 10,000 hours. There’s a catch…a fixation tips into obsession when it begins to impair your ability to function in your normal routine, affecting your work, diet and your relationships, according to clinical psychologists. That’s the downside. The upside of following your interests to the point of obsession is the clarification it lends to every opportunity. Innate talent won’t take you too far without obsession steering the way. Take some time, specifically 10,000 hours, to pour yourself into doing what you love – practice an instrument, play a sport, scramble up mountains – and see what happens. Worst case scenario, you prove the best-selling author wrong and spend a lot of time doing something you enjoy. “Take that, Gladwell. I still suck.” Don’t forget to eat, sleep and shower.