Trying and experiencing new things is really what makes life incredible. While we all need some level of certainty in life, it’s the variety that truly makes it worth living. Here is a list of 20 things that I believe everyone should experience in their lifetime.
1. Do some sort of physical challenge–Marathon, obstacle course, Iron Man, fitness competition, bodybuilding or physique show. Test yourself at least once in your life. Who knows? You may fall in love with it. You will surely appreciate your body and what it is capable of.
2. Learn to shoot a gun, bow, or crossbow. Marksmanship is a very useful skill and may come in handy one day. Target shooting is even an Olympic sport. It’s much more difficult than it looks and it may put you outside your comfort zone and force you to grow as a person.
3. Visit a foreign country where your native language is not widely spoken. Learning how to communicate with others from a completely different culture is a very fun and exhilarating experience. It will surely make you grow as a person and expand your understanding and compassion for others.
4. Learn to drive a car. This may seem obvious, but the most recent generation has the least percentage of licensed drivers than the previous ones. With Uber, Lyft and even self-driving cars all around now, don’t let yourself lose out on one of the most important rites of passage an adult can have.
5. Meditate every day for a month. Great leaders, historical contemplatives, and many successful business people all have one thing in common–they have some sort of reflection ritual in which they allow themselves to detach from their thoughts and analyze what they’ve done and where they are going. Call it prayer, reflection, meditation–all of them are practices that force one to calm the mind. Numerous studies show the health benefits from meditation.
6. Practice a martial art. Not only is it physically demanding, marital arts can be an incredible practice for self-confidence, strategy and resilience. Knowing how to defend yourself and others is also very useful.
7. Fall in love. You may have yet to truly fall in love with another. I suggest you allow yourself to experience what it feels like to put another’s needs, desires and hopes before your own. Falling in love is the greatest feeling in the world and though a relationship may not work out, the capacity to love is a huge part of what makes us human.
8. Join a social club or gym. Get out of your house and go to a place where like-minded people are doing what you are doing. You will meet new people, make new friends and though cooperation you may even achieve great things… together.
9. Stay a night in a very fancy and expensive hotel. If you have never done this, you will be amazed at the level of attention to every possible detail associated with your experience. From the architecture to the customer service to the bar to the bathroom–everything is focused on you. Sometimes, that’s exactly what you need in life. Plus, you may meet exactly the right person you need in your life at that moment. You never know in a nice hotel.
10. Get into a debate. How do you know what you believe is true or if it’s serving you well in life? You will only find out by having to defend those beliefs logically against someone else doing the same. A healthy debate will sharpen your mind and increase your ability to communicate well with others.
11. Take something that changes your mental state. It can be as simple as a glass of wine, a pre-workout drink or an herb…but… WARNING: don’t do something stupid or get addicted to something unhealthy or illegal. However, I believe it is very important to understand that there are different states of consciousness and how you act while experiencing them. Likewise it’s important to educate yourself on substances that alter your mental state and their effects on your body. More information is always better than ignorance. BE SMART!
12. Perform for others on stage. I love the stage. I love delivering entertainment to others. This thought may scare you to death. Good. Get out of your comfort zone and experience what it’s like to perform on stage. You may love it. You may hate it. But hey, at least you did it.
13. Hold a newborn baby. If you want an experience that takes your breath away and allows you to examine the beauty and fragility, hold a newborn baby and look into their eyes. It may be the most beautiful experience in your lifetime.
14. Go to an art gallery. Experience the stories told by humans through their expression of making art. There is so much history, so much beauty, so much emotion. A good art gallery is an incredible adventure. Don’t miss out on it.
15. Learn a choreographed dance. This is really just another way of making art, but the challenge of learning a dance is not only physical and mental, it can also be very emotional. It will give you a healthy respect for professional dancers and performers. Plus, it might be incredibly fun.
16. Write a book, journal or blog. The written word is very powerful. It can be used to pass along stories, entertain and teach others, make something official. It is how many people best express their thoughts. Organizing your thoughts and writing them down makes the invisible visible, and that is something truly amazing.
17. Start a side business or invest in a company. “Wages will make you a living. Profits will make you a fortune.” – Jim Rohn. Experiencing what it’s like to put your capital to use in the marketplace to deliver value to customers in the hope of returning a profit is probably the most stress-filled, anxiety-ridden experience you will ever face. There are so many variables. So many unknowns. So much riding on the line. I’ve heard that its like staring into a dark void and jumping in. But like Space Mountain in Disneyland, it’s the most exciting ride because it’s fast and you can’t see what’s coming. That’s the marketplace, and it’s responsible for nearly everything we have in our lives from food to technology.
18. Give to charity. This is something that I feel has been somewhat overlooked in our society. Charity used to play a big part in communities, but now many look to the State to deliver services to the poor and disabled. They figure they are already being taxed for these services. While that may be true, I would argue there is nothing in life more satisfying that contributing beyond one’s self. Charity is an expression of your capacity to love others. It’s a vital part of our humanity.
19. Handwrite a personal letter and mail it to someone. The handwritten letter, even the physical mail, may seem out of style today, but I can assure you, there is something very, very special in receiving a handwritten letter from another. Try it. Though, if you haven’t physically written in a while, maybe work on your penmanship beforehand.
20. Get a philosophy for your life. I believe how your life turns out has more to do with your personal philosophy than what happens externally to you. You may not be able to control external events, but having a strong personal philosophy will allow you to control what those things mean to you. Philosophy can help you understand yourself, others, history and the world around you. It can be used as a set of rules for how to live and how to go after and get what you want in life. Think of philosophy as the set of the sail and you are the boat. Want to go further? You have to set a better sail, or refine your philosophy. Personally, I’ve been heavily influenced by the Stoics, Christian, Libertarians, Classic Liberalism, Austrian Economics, Humanism. I would say that from these schools of philosophy, I have developed my own philosophy, my own set of guidelines, rules and lenses for looking at the world and interpreting meaning. I can’t overstate the importance of having a strong philosophy in life. I will however offer a warning: test how useful your philosophy is by reflecting daily on your actions and thoughts. If you can sleep at night knowing that you have done your best to fill your potential and have not trampled the rights or property of others, your philosophy is likely working well for you. If not, it may be time to refine it. I personally have refined my philosophy at least four times in my life. I plan on doing it more as I grow as a person.
So there it is. 20 things I believe every one who is capable should do. What’s on your list?