Adventure for your Health: 9 Ways to Live Vicariously Through Yourself

The tragedy of life is not that it ends so soon, but that we wait so long to begin it.
— W.M. Lewis
Playing photographer on a windy day in Joshua Tree National Park, California.  Photo Cred: Joni Lahdesmaki

Playing photographer on a windy day in Joshua Tree National Park, California.  Photo Cred: Joni Lahdesmaki

I'm on a pretty epic journey.  For those of you who haven't been following along so far, I quit my job as a nurse practitioner in New York in December to build my own health coaching business and work as a nurse practitioner for a female centric telemedicine company while traveling with a program called Remote Year in which I live in a different city each month over the course of the year.  So far this year I have lived in Malaysia, Vietnam, Cambodia, Thailand and Serbia and I have 7 other exciting destinations to come.  In between working hours (I am lucky enough to create my own schedule), I go hiking, running and kayaking, interact with elephants and orangutans, try new and exotic food, sip red wine, meet interesting people from all over the world, and explore temples, castles, museums and palaces.  I've spent several days working beachside because all I need to work are a good wi-fi connection, my laptop, my iPhone and headphones.  My Instagram is enviable and the number one thing I hear from people following along on my journey is "I'm living vicariously through you".

This lifestyle admittedly isn't always easy and I've had a number of mishaps that are exponentially more difficult to deal with where you don't speak the language, but ultimately I couldn't be happier.  The thing is, this lifestyle didn't happen by chance or accident, but rather I created it.  I took risks, prioritized adventure and faced my fears in the name of getting out of my personal 9-5 drag and creating a life that feels more meaningful and fulfilling.  Part of the fulfillment comes from travel, but mostly out of finally deciding to pursue my passion of lifestyle medicine.  Creating a fulfilling life doesn't have to involve perpetual travel.  It's not feasible or even desirable for everyone.  The point is, you have to find what will fulfill you and go for it.

Marathoning around Lake Atitlan in Guatemala

Marathoning around Lake Atitlan in Guatemala

You can create a daily sense of adventure (whatever that means for you) by prioritizing the simplest of changes.   Living a live trapped in stagnation is detrimental to both physical and mental health.  If you're feeling tired, bored or trapped by day to day life, chances are you'll make choices that will compromise your health too, like downing Coca-Cola and a Snickers on the reg during the mid-afternoon energy slump. On the other side, when you're feeling extremely fulfilled in one area of your life, you're likely to make better choices in other areas of your life as well.  

Jumping above the clouds on Mount Kilimanjaro in Tanzania

Jumping above the clouds on Mount Kilimanjaro in Tanzania

Here are 9 simple ways to start living vicariously through yourself. 

Taking a sunset walk after a conference in Naples, Florida

Taking a sunset walk after a conference in Naples, Florida

  1. Buy less stuff and prioritize experiences.  Buying tickets for a Central Park Summer Stage concert makes me infinitely more happy than buying a new pair of shoes.  Spend money on the things that truly nourish you. 
  2. Try something new everyday.  This can be as simple as trying a new piece of fruit, taking a new route home from work or listening to a new band.  It can be as elaborate as showing up at the airport on a Saturday, finding a cheap, short round-trip flight to somewhere you've never been and flying there for lunch. The point is doing something novel everyday will help you escape the monotony of a routine.  Start by making a list of 5 simple things you really want to try around your city or town and go do them.  
  3. Read.  Whether fiction or non-fiction, reading inspires creativity, imagination, an open-mind, and an opportunity to change your perspective and improve self-awareness.
  4. Interact with nature.  Break free from a Netflix binge and get outside no matter what time of year.  Layer up, strip down, whatever.  Sunlight and fresh air will make any day better.  
  5. Travel cheaply. Traveling by couch surfing > not traveling at all.  Sure sleeping on a strangers couch can be weird, but chances are you'll meet a new, interesting friend and will create long-lasting memories. Travel doesn't have to be luxurious and expensive. #budgettravelforthewin
  6. Step outside your comfort zone. Choose to evolve and excuse your excuses.  Never accept stagnation.  Find little ways you can grow each and every day. For some this can be as simple as going on a solo trip to the museum.
  7. Practice gratitude. Our lives can change dramatically with a simple shift of perspective.  Make a habit of writing down 3 things you are grateful for at the end of each day and watch how more positive vibes instantly flow into your daily life.  Choose to see external beauty around you. 
  8. Celebrate your failures. Taking chances is not always glamorous, but you learn and build character in the process.  Failure is an option.  Embrace that it may happen and try it anyway.  You're more resilient than you think.  
  9. Stop asking questions.  You don't have to have everything figured out before you start.  Learn and adapt as you go.  
Trail running around the Rio Grande Gorge in Taos, New Mexico

Trail running around the Rio Grande Gorge in Taos, New Mexico