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5 Ways to Create Adventure and Joy Every Day

5 Ways to Create Adventure and Joy Every Day

Life can get monotonous with the daily grind. But it doesn’t have to be that way. There are easy, simple ways that you can make life fun everyday. Before I give you the 5 tips to bring more adventure and joy into your life, I’ll share with you how I realized how important it is to integrate these tips into your life.

Over a decade ago I was enamored with the Jack Kerouac road-trippin’ adventurous lifestyle. I got on a plane to Costa Rica with only a small backpack and a guide book. No plans, no reservations and barely a word of Spanish on my tongue. That same year I traveled across Canada with a friend and spent my summer picking cherries in British Columbia’s Okanagan Valley. These adventures sparked freedom and joy into my life. I knew I had to maintain this feeling.

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When I moved to Vancouver to pursue my studies in nutrition, I knew I had to bring that quality of adventure into my everyday life. I thought about how when you are traveling, or on the road, every new landscape is breathtaking. Every moment is a joyous surprise. I received pleasure from walks through unknown streets and forests on my many travels, and realized how simple it could be to bring this joy and adventure into my every day.

That was 8 years ago now, and to this day I still look for the adventure and joy in the everyday. Here are 5 of my favorite ways to keep life exciting:

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1. Follow Your Feet

Let your feet guide you. When you go on a walk that is meant for enjoyment, instead of having a pre-conceived route of where you think your walk or run will take you, let your feet speak for you. It is an intuitive practice of allowing your body to guide you, and often leads to the discovery of new streets, parks, and a total sense of adventure. As you set out on your walk with the intention of your feet being your guide, you will find that your body will have a pull to a certain direction—go with it. To this day I still discover new roads, routes, and gorgeous havens that amaze me all the time. I recently found a magical forest near one of my favorite beaches. I couldn’t believe that 8 years went by and I hadn’t discovered it until about a week ago. That’s the beauty of adventure and following your feet!

2. Take Mini-Trips

Month-long and year-long adventures are not realistic for many people. But most of us can find a day or a weekend to get out of town and explore. Getting out of your city and exploring a new city or quiet rural village, or island, is an adventurous way to spark joy into your life. Out here in Vancouver, there are many islands near the mainland that feel like I am far away from the bustle of my own city and transport me to a whole new life, if even for just a weekend. Whether you live near some islands, or are simply a few hours away from another gorgeous city or town, getting out of your everyday surroundings helps to spark your spirit and rejuvenate your sense of appreciation and joy for the little things.

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3. Use a different route to work

If you are not in a huge rush and can afford an extra 10 minutes to give a new route a try, do it! Through walking or driving down a different street you may discover a new shop or park that you never knew existed. So many treasures often lurk just meters away from us. If you always stay on the same path, you will never know what wonders are just around the corner. Since not taking your regular route can throw your timing off balance I recommend leaving your house a few minutes earlier to account for the minor time difference it may take. It is incredible how just one block over you may discover the place you dreamed of.

4. Shop for groceries somewhere new.

I find when I travel, the supermarkets and stores are always so different than what I am used to back home. Usually it’s because I am in some mega store in the USA where there is ten times the options as here in Canada, or I’m in Mexico astonished at their wide selection of tropical fruits and tortillas, and small overall assortment of food through the aisles. Nonetheless it contributes to the adventure of discovering a new place. I do the same thing here. There are a few major chain stores and several mini-marts. I find that when I go into a store I rarely visit, I discover an exciting and different array of options, and it contributes to a sense of adventure in my discovery of something new to try. It’s amazing how these little things really add a sense of adventure to your day.

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5. Do something out of the ordinary.

When I travel I am always checking out new cafes and restaurants. My daily routine changes and I am living more in the moment. When I am lacking adventure, I’ll purposefully get out of my regular routine, and head off to a new café as if I was traveling, or start my day off in a slightly different manner. If you find that every Saturday you have the same weekend routine, splash it up by deliberately changing what you do. It may involve going out to eat somewhere different, or putting your chores on hold while you craft up something new and fun to do. During the week you might decide to set your alarm a little earlier so that you can start your day differently, perhaps with a little walk or reading a book. The little changes that you make to your daily or weekend routine create a sense of novelty and joy.

Now it’s your turn. Did this article inspire you? Then put it into action! Take one of these tips and mark down in your calendar when you plan to engage in your first adventure. Then have fun with it and see where the adventure takes you. Report your plans and insights in the comments below. Let’s all live with a little more adventure and fun in our lives.

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Published on May 18, 2021

How To Improve Listening Skills For Effective Workplace Communication

How To Improve Listening Skills For Effective Workplace Communication

We have two ears and one mouth for a reason—effective communication is dependent on using them in proportion, and this involves having good listening skills.

The workplace of the 21st century may not look the same as it did before COVID-19 spread throughout the world like wildfire, but that doesn’t mean you can relax your standards at work. If anything, Zoom meetings, conference calls, and the continuous time spent behind a screen have created a higher level of expectations for meeting etiquette and communication. And this goes further than simply muting your microphone during a meeting.

Effective workplace communication has been a topic of discussion for decades, yet, it is rarely addressed or implemented due to a lack of awareness and personal ownership by all parties.

Effective communication isn’t just about speaking clearly or finding the appropriate choice of words. It starts with intentional listening and being present. Here’s how to improve your listening skills for effective workplace communication.

Listen to Understand, Not to Speak

There are stark differences between listening and hearing. Listening involves intention, focused effort, and concentration, whereas hearing simply involves low-level awareness that someone else is speaking. Listening is a voluntary activity that allows one to be present and in the moment while hearing is passive and effortless.[1]

Which one would you prefer your colleagues to implement during your company-wide presentation? It’s a no-brainer.

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Listening can be one of the most powerful tools in your communication arsenal because one must listen to understand the message being told to them. As a result of this deeper understanding, communication can be streamlined because there is a higher level of comprehension that will facilitate practical follow-up questions, conversations, and problem-solving. And just because you heard something doesn’t mean you actually understood it.

We take this for granted daily, but that doesn’t mean we can use that as an excuse.

Your brain is constantly scanning your environment for threats, opportunities, and situations to advance your ability to promote your survival. And yet, while we are long past the days of worrying about being eaten by wildlife, the neurocircuitry responsible for these mechanisms is still hard-wired into our psychology and neural processing.

A classic example of this is the formation of memories. Case in point: where were you on June 3rd, 2014? For most of you reading this article, your mind will go completely blank, which isn’t necessarily bad.

The brain is far too efficient to retain every detail about every event that happens in your life, mainly because many events that occur aren’t always that important. The brain doesn’t—and shouldn’t—care what you ate for lunch three weeks ago or what color shirt you wore golfing last month. But for those of you who remember where you were on June 3rd, 2014, this date probably holds some sort of significance to you. Maybe it was a birthday or an anniversary. Perhaps it was the day your child was born. It could have even been a day where you lost someone special in your life.

Regardless of the circumstance, the brain is highly stimulated through emotion and engagement, which is why memories are usually stored in these situations. When the brain’s emotional centers become activated, the brain is far more likely to remember an event.[2] And this is also true when intention and focus are applied to listening to a conversation.

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Utilizing these hard-wired primitive pathways of survival to optimize your communication in the workplace is a no-brainer—literally and figuratively.

Intentional focus and concentrated efforts will pay off in the long run because you will retain more information and have an easier time recalling it down the road, making you look like a superstar in front of your colleagues and co-workers. Time to kiss those note-taking days away!

Effective Communication Isn’t Always Through Words

While we typically associate communication with words and verbal affirmations, communication can come in all shapes and forms. In the Zoom meeting era we live in, it has become far more challenging to utilize and understand these other forms of language. And this is because they are typically easier to see when we are sitting face to face with the person we speak to.[3]

Body language can play a significant role in how our words and communication are interpreted, especially when there is a disconnection involved.[4] When someone tells you one thing, yet their body language screams something completely different, it’s challenging to let that go. Our brain immediately starts to search for more information and inevitably prompts us to follow up with questions that will provide greater clarity to the situation at hand. And in all reality, not saying something might be just as important as actually saying something.

These commonly overlooked non-verbal communication choices can provide a plethora of information about the intentions, emotions, and motivations. We do this unconsciously, and it happens with every confrontation, conversation, and interaction we engage in. The magic lies in the utilization and active interpretation of these signals to improve your listening skills and your communication skills.

Our brains were designed for interpreting our world, which is why we are so good at recognizing subtle nuances and underlying disconnect within our casual encounters. So, when we begin to notice conflicting messages between verbal and non-verbal communication, our brain takes us down a path of troubleshooting.

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Which messages are consistent with this theme over time? Which statements aren’t aligning with what they’re really trying to tell me? How should I interpret their words and body language?

Suppose we want to break things down even further. In that case, one must understand that body language is usually a subconscious event, meaning that we rarely think about our body language. This happens because our brain’s primary focus is to string together words and phrases for verbal communication, which usually requires a higher level of processing. This doesn’t mean that body language will always tell the truth, but it does provide clues to help us weigh information, which can be pretty beneficial in the long run.

Actively interpreting body language can provide you with an edge in your communication skills. It can also be used as a tool to connect with the individual you are speaking to. This process is deeply ingrained into our human fabric and utilizes similar methods babies use while learning new skills from their parents’ traits during the early years of development.

Mirroring a person’s posture or stance can create a subtle bond, facilitating a sense of feeling like one another. This process is triggered via the activation of specific brain regions through the stimulation of specialized neurons called mirror neurons.[5] These particular neurons become activated while watching an individual engage in an activity or task, facilitating learning, queuing, and understanding. They also allow the person watching an action to become more efficient at physically executing the action, creating changes in the brain, and altering the overall structure of the brain to enhance output for that chosen activity.

Listening with intention can make you understand your colleague, and when paired together with mirroring body language, you can make your colleague feel like you two are alike. This simple trick can facilitate a greater bond of understanding and communication within all aspects of the conversation.

Eliminate All Distractions, Once and for All

As Jim Rohn says, “What is easy to do is also easy not to do.” And this is an underlying principle that will carry through in all aspects of communication. Distractions are a surefire way to ensure a lack of understanding or interpretation of a conversation, which in turn, will create inefficiencies and a poor foundation for communication.

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This should come as no surprise, especially in this day in age where people are constantly distracted by social media, text messaging, and endlessly checking their emails. We’re stuck in a cultural norm that has hijacked our love for the addictive dopamine rush and altered our ability to truly focus our efforts on the task at hand. And these distractions aren’t just distractions for the time they’re being used. They use up coveted brainpower and central processes that secondarily delay our ability to get back on track.

Gloria Mark, a researcher at UC Irvine, discovered that it takes an average of 23 minutes and 15 seconds for our brains to reach their peak state of focus after an interruption.[6] Yes, you read that correctly—distractions are costly, error-prone, and yield little to no benefit outside of a bump to the ego when receiving a new like on your social media profile.

Meetings should implement a no-phone policy, video conference calls should be set on their own browser with no other tabs open, and all updates, notifications, and email prompt should be immediately turned off, if possible, to eliminate all distractions during a meeting.

These are just a few examples of how we can optimize our environment to facilitate the highest levels of communication within the workplace.

Actions Speak Louder Than Words

Effective communication in the workplace doesn’t have to be challenging, but it does have to be intentional. Knowledge can only take us so far, but once again, knowing something is very different than putting it into action.

Just like riding a bike, the more often you do it, the easier it becomes. Master communicators are phenomenal listeners, which allows them to be effective communicators in the workplace and in life. If you genuinely want to own your communication, you must implement this information today and learn how to improve your listening skills.

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Choose your words carefully, listen intently, and most of all, be present in the moment—because that’s what master communicators do, and you can do it, too!

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Featured photo credit: Mailchimp via unsplash.com

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