Have you ever wondered why we enjoy television and movies? For many people, this form of entertainment is quite consuming. I don't think it is unusual for a person to come home after work, turn on the TV, and sit in front of it for the majority of the evening. I personally have spent countless hours conquering seasons of a show or throwing movie marathons. (My current iCheckMovies count is 1032.) But why do we spend so much of our precious time doing this? I think it is to live vicariously through the characters we have come to love, and to experience a reality different from the one we are currently living. This is especially apparent with the popularity of reality shows. The promise of "real" people in fantastic situations is a tantalizing prospect. After all, you're a real person. Why couldn't you be in one of those situations?
Indeed, our screens are windows into other worlds which we find more appealing than our own. More importantly, these screens buffer us from the realities of those worlds. They keep the experience easy and sanitary. We can take it in small doses and remain medicated against the drudgery of real life. Ironically, this safe escape prevents us from achieving any of the realities we so desperately crave. It is ultimately vacuous and unfulfilling -- just like the junk food that seemed so satisfying when you were eating it. These empty calories can be derived in other ways, as well. Traditions are familiar but can keep you from trying new things. Political ideology can blind you to the good ideas of others. Religious convictions, though comforting when in the face of life's uncertainties, can become a placating naïveté. These concepts in themselves are typically good, but like anything else, we must not allow them to completely dictate our actions. Further, we should strive to step outside our boundaries at every opportunity. In short, we should all practice the art of freaking ourselves out. This is the only way to learn, grow, and achieve our goals.
Now I must preface this with a disclaimer: I am not suggesting you quit your job, sell all of your things, move to a new country, and live off the land despite having no experience as a farmer in a foreign region. Most of us have responsibilities and other people who depend upon us, and it would be misguided to neglect them. To freak yourself out, you do not have to go to the other extreme of redefining your entire life. It's easy to watch Into the Wild and yearn for that lifestyle, but you should certainly not abandon your family to do it. The important thing, and really the entire point of learning this art, is to gain a better understanding of what is truly important in your life. This is a wisdom that can propel you to do anything you want to do, and it's something you must evaluate for your personal situation to determine how far you can go. Of course, if you have no obligations, you're free to do anything you want to do.
For now, let's start small. You have your life goals, yes? Good. Now how do you expect to achieve those goals? You have to change something in your life or do something out of the ordinary. You have to leave your safety zone and freak yourself out. After all, if nothing changes, how do you expect to achieve anything? This doesn't have to be a life-shattering change. It can be a minor adjustment. For example, you could try a new route to work to save time. It's easy and safe to continue to use the same old route. You know which lanes are best to avoid. You know how the signals are timed. You know every pothole. You are a master of your route, and that mastery makes you feel comfortable taking it. But what if another route is better or faster? You cannot know unless you try a new one.
And here's where it gets interesting: Sometimes -- probably most times -- these changes will yield poor results. At times, they can be dangerous or frightening. This is not a bad thing though. It's normal to want to avoid the unexpected, and failure is a stepping stone to success. Do not allow these things to keep you from exploring. As a child, you spend most of your time confronting fears, acting silly, and failing at simple tasks. Is it merely a coincidence that this is also the time in your life when you learn and grow the most? If not, why should you stop at adulthood? If you don't venture outside of your safety bubble, you cannot mature any further.
So what else can you do to freak yourself out? Ride a bike to work. Take a class on an interesting subject. Start a small business. Eat something exotic. Question yourself on a daily basis. Do volunteer work. Every time you hear that voice in your head trying to convince you that it's a bad idea even when you know it's not, just say yes. Learn to love uncertainty, and you'll achieve more than you knew was possible.