15/01/2014 05:20 GMT | Updated 11/03/2014 05:59 GMT

On the Value of Adventure in Life

You're an asshole when you start out and you're an asshole when you get back
- Yvon Chouinard CEO of Patagonia, on most mountaineers who climb Mount Everest these days


The traditional concept of an adventurer is typically someone undertaking an extreme sport, often in the wilderness of mountains or inhospitable terrain, who is set on conquering nature - whether it's a peak, a pole, or otherwise. However adventure doesn't require you to climb Everest or cross the Sahara single-handedly to obtain the thrill and benefits of such a journey.

Seen from a new perspective, the daily to-do list can be framed as many different adventures, each task to be seen as a fun challenge to complete. Granted if your to-do list looks anything like mine (mend broken toilet, do book-keeping, get taxes done, pay staff...) it's easier said than done. Yet it is worth having a play with changing our relationship with the errands we undertake in life - as the way that we view things can very literally change our whole outlook and the way that we show up in life.

To me, adventure is all about finding portals of excitement in life and following them. It's about finding your edge, that place where you find yourself right on the border of where you feel comfortable, and playing there. Only by spending enough time in that challenging place of the unknown can we significantly grow, illuminate and work through our fears, and feel truly alive.

Adventure in the third person


Television, surfing the Internet and to some extent reading books, all act as pacifiers, where we experience others having adventures on our behalf. We experience a nuance of what it may feel like for the protagonist in that moment, however it is absolutely no replacement for the real thing. Technology, together with our more luxurious western lifestyles that require little hands-on engagement (for example chopping wood or fetching water from a well), isolate us from potential adventures we would have been experiencing when these types of activities were commonplace.

I have often found solitary adventure to be a more powerful experience than when accompanied by friends. The accountability and responsibility one feels when one is alone triggers the human survival instinct, in turn releasing a whole swathe of al-chemical reactions.

Ideas to add more adventure in your life


Traditional adventures need not require years of planning and be based in far-away lands but can be found on your doorstep. One of my inspirational heroes is a truly contemporary adventurer by the name of Alastair Humphreys, who has hiked and wild-camped the entire circumference of the M25, amongst many other creatively endowed local trips. He champions the thinking that the best adventures can be found in your garden, and has come up with a movement called "microadventures" (www.alastairhumphreys.com/microadventures-3/) where for example, you leave work on a weekday evening at say 5pm, catch a train with a small backpack of kit to your nearest forested or wild hilly area, get changed in a phone booth, hike to a secluded area, camp the night, then the next day return on an early train to be back at work for 9am. Alastair refreshingly believes, "adventure is accessible to normal people, in normal places, in short segments of time and without having to spend much money".

Adventure can also be something you can add to each day, that pushes you towards your edge. In today's times of boundless variety and activities available from all cultures this could include doing some public speaking, attending a tantra workshop, cooking a meal from a recipe, running to work, or asking someone out on a date who you have admired for some time.

My favourite adventure is to go on a modified version of a native American vision quest, which involves a minimum of 24 hours solo time in the wild in one spot, but does not require the more intense guidelines of no clothing, no food, no water, no sleep, no shelter. During these quests, I am treated to an exquisite symphony of the senses, my spirit is nourished, the connection to inner and outer nature is honed, and there is often a great sense of surprise, survival, relaxation and presence.

The power of adventure in life can lead to many open doors where an infinite amount of opportunities lie in wait . The undeniable benefits of experiencing the journey along the way is multi-layered in itself and often only can be understood after that experience has been allowed to mature and be reflected on.

Close your eyes and take the plunge.

Adrian Kowal is the co-founder of evolve -- a centre of evolution in South Kensington, London (www.evolvewellnesscentre.com). He is a wilderness guide co-founded Way of Nature UK which runs various wilderness retreats in the UK and abroad (www.wayofnature.co.uk). If you would like to get in touch please email: adrian@evolvewellnesscentre.com