Word of the Month: Explore
By Dani DiPirro
I'll be honest — I'm not much of an explorer. Though I'm well aware of the benefits of getting out of one's comfort zone and exploring new things, I tend to stay where I feel safe and comfortable. But not this month! This month is all about getting out of my comfort zone and exploring, and I encourage you to give exploration a try in your life this month too. Typically when I hear the word "explore," I think of scaling mountains or traipsing through a forest, but exploration isn't just about lacing up your hiking boots or going out into the wilderness.
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Leaving The Comfort Zone
I'll be honest — I'm not much of an explorer. Though I'm well aware of the benefits of getting out of one's comfort zone and exploring new things, I tend to stay where I feel safe and comfortable.
But not this month! This month is all about getting out of my comfort zone and exploring, and I encourage you to give exploration a try in your life this month too. Typically when I hear the word "explore," I think of scaling mountains or traipsing through a forest, but exploration isn't just about lacing up your hiking boots or going out into the wilderness.
More to Discover
Exploring is something that can be done in all kinds of ways, from looking more closely at your own thoughts to indulging in a new kind of cuisine to flying to a new locale on the other side of the globe.
I won't be making a worldwide trek this month, but I will be going out of my way to explore the world around me and venture outside of my normal thoughts, behaviors, and interactions. It's springtime where I live and that seems like a great time to get out of the same ol', same ol' rut and try new things. Here are some of the best ways to embrace exploration...
Explore Your Surroundings
Exploration doesn't have to be about observing new cultures (though that is a wonderful way to explore!). Exploring can happen right where you are and can actually be a great way to bring your attention to where you are and what's around you.
One of the ways I'm going to practice exploring this month is by paying close attention to the things I see every day. I'm going to strive for a more mindful nature while walking down my usual paths and I'm going to take a deeper interest in the things I have around me. One of the ways I plan to do this is by sitting still at my desk for a few moments each day and really being mindful of the sights and sounds around me. So often we take for granted what we see all the time so mindfulness can actually be a kind of exploration.
Look Around You
Explore Your New Location
It's certainly not a new idea, but going somewhere new is one of the best ways to explore. While we'd all probably love a chance to fly to a new country or take a vacation to some beautiful location, exploring a new location doesn't necessarily have to involve travel.
A new location can be as simple as trying a new restaurant or going into a shop you've never checked out before. This month, I plan to check out as many new locations as I can. I won't be able to travel, most likely, but I won't let that stop me from finding exciting new places in nearby towns or even in my own city. If you don't have access to any new locations, try checking out places online. A little online exploration can be a good thing too!
Explore Your Mental State
Introspection is a great form of exploration. Often we're so busy that we don't really stop to think about what we're thinking or how we're feeling.
A month focused on exploration provides an excellent opportunity to dig deeper into the mind. This can be done by simply sitting quietly and contemplating how you feel and what's on your mind. Or, if you want a more tangible kind of exploration, you can free write your thoughts and feelings for a set period of time (maybe 15 minutes or so). If you're feeling extra creative, you could even draw how you're feeling and what you're thinking about (and don't be afraid to dabble in some abstract ideas!). We all have so much going on in our minds at any given time so it can be a sort of adventure to really give our attention to our thoughts and emotions.
Explore A New Perspective
A fresh perspective can provide all sorts of exciting insights about the world around us. This month I'm going to try to explore new perspectives in all sorts of ways.
Some ideas for discovering new perspectives: take a different route to work or school, sit in a different chair in your kitchen or living room, work outside or at a coffee shop instead of at your desk, stand in a completely random spot in a room you're in often, FaceTime instead of talk on the phone or talk on the phone instead of texting. A new perspective can come in all sorts of ways, some physical, some mental, but even the tiniest tweaks can provide a fresh point of view, a new way to explore the world around you and possibly find new discoveries about the places or activities you might take for granted.
Change Your Perspective
Explore An Unfamiliar Idea
One of the best ways to explore (from right where you are!) is to investigate a foreign idea or concept.
I'm planning to look into some topics I've always been curious about and see if I can learn more about them. If you're looking to explore an unfamiliar topic, consider something you've always wanted to know more about. Or, ask yourself if there's something you feel you should know more about (a religion different from your own, a political party you don't particularly favor) in order to be more educated. We're so fortunate to have the internet (and all its knowledge!) at our fingertips.
Online adventures can lead to some really great treasures, especially if you start looking into things you know little or nothing about. Exploring ideas that are unfamiliar not only teaches you more about the world in general, but it can also lead to surprising insights about yourself too.
The Road Less Traveled
Whether you have the opportunity to travel the world or you spend your time adventuring online, exploration is something we can all do and benefit from.
It's hard sometimes to break out of your comfort zone (both physically and mentally), but I've found that every time I explore a new place or idea, I learn something worthwhile. This month I plan to make the most of exploration in my life and I hope you venture outside of your usual thoughts and actions and do some exploring of your own too!