This month, we’re reflecting on the theme of Adventure — what we learned about the power of new experiences, how we might expand our comfort zones, and what we can do to treat every day a bit more like an adventure.
Every month at Holstee I get the chance to dive into tons of great research, essays, poems, and writings about our themes in order to compile our monthly guides. Guided by some of our favorite thinkers, researchers, and writers (including Seth Godin, Jacqueline Cochran, Elizabeth Gilbert, and researchers at the Canadian Consortium on Neurodegeneration in Aging), here are a few takeaways from our theme of Adventure.
1. Choose your own adventure.
It’s no coincidence that we tackle the theme of Adventure in the month of June, the official start to summer for many of us (👋waving from Austin, Texas). Even with all the responsibilities of adulthood, summer still feels like it did when I was a kid: a season of adventure. But not because it was or is filled with extravagant vacations or particularly thrilling moments, but because summer offers me a bit more time — to notice things, to pay attention, to enjoy. The energy changes and life feels just a little less rushed somehow.
Maybe your to-do list is just as long if not longer in the summer, or you’re working through a particularly tough time, or just feeling the weight of the awful things happening in the world right now (I’m right there with you). But I hope you can use the few minutes of extra sunlight today to pause and reflect on what is good in your life. I think when we do so, we get a little closer to seeing all of it (good, bad, easy, scary) as part of the adventure.
This month, we dug into research from the Canadian Consortium on Neurodegeneration in Aging (CCNA) which found that when we engage in new or challenging activities, we build dense neural networks called cognitive reserve. And as we age our cognitive reserve is used to stave off brain diseases and reduce the risk of developing dementia. This is pretty remarkable when you think about it. This means that there are things we can do to actually change our cognitive response as we age (so cool!).
We explore this important research in our Curated Resources for this month.
3. Remember, you’ve got this. 💪
Lucky for us, there are tons of ways we can build cognitive reserve. We can take up new hobbies, do new things, engage in creative expression, and do things like visit museums or attend conferences. That’s a pretty big list, and this lesson is an awesome reminder to say yes (as our artwork this month reminds us!) to all of it when the opportunities present themselves.
Hopefully this will be a helpful push to sign up for that workshop you’ve been thinking eyeing, to pick up a book on a topic you know nothing about, to try out a new recipe, or to take that new class at the gym you’re a little intimidated by. And if you need an excuse, you can say you’re doing it for your future self. 😉
We take some time to reflect on how we might incorporate more cognitive reserve-building exercises into our lives in our Adventure Guide.
4. Consider comfort vs safety.
Our final lesson comes from writer and speaker Seth Godin, who reminds us that there’s an important difference between our comfort and our safety zone. This may be obvious on the surface, but in the moment, it can be hard to tell the difference.
Our safety zone shows us our physical and emotional limits so that we can take risks without threatening our well being. But our comfort zone tricks us into thinking our limits are more narrow than they actually are. The goal is to stay within our safety zone but stretch our comfort zone as much as we can. This is the space in which we grow, in which we tackle the fears that limit us, that we see the power of our own resilience, and that we truly learn about ourselves.
5. One important question.
To close, I want to leave you with one (OK, maybe two) important question from this month’s Adventure Guide:
What’s one aspect of your life you’d like to grow in, and what has been holding you back from doing so?
Creative and Community Lead, Holstee
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