Making Exploration a Habit – Realizing a Way to Move Through Life With Great Joy

I have always felt a great desire to explore. A great desire to venture somewhere new. And perhaps a bit of hope that maybe, just maybe I will discover something new.

I used to think explorers were limited to people like Christopher Columbus, people who discovered new physical places. Today, I think of explorers as those who make a habit of venturing to places unknown to themselves and I most certainly do not limit my definition of place to physical locations. This means that the great explorers of today are people like Sam Altman, Elon Musk, Steve Jobs, and Kanye West. The great explorers of today have went a step above venturing to places unknown to themselves, instead venturing to places that are unknown in general and ultimately providing others the opportunity to join them in these places as well. Ultimately, making them not too different from figures like Christopher Columbus.

Why Explore

It is easy to get caught up in the routine and anxieties of everyday life. Generally, many of us run every day on autopilot (whether we know it or not), using our system 1 impulses (See Thinking Fast and Slow by Kahneman and Tverski) as our main means of moving through our days.

We wake up, go through our morning routines, do whatever our careers or current state of life demands of us, eat dinner, lounge for a bit, then go to sleep. With the hopes that perhaps one day by doing the work that we are doing today we will be able to get to a place where we can find enjoyment that exceeds the enjoyment we have today.

While this is a framework that many use to go about their lives, it is one that I most certainly choose to opt out of. I believe that everyday, we should engage our system 2 (again, see Thinking Fast and Slow by Kahneman and Tverski) and do things that challenge our routines. My view is that, though we can live life on autopilot is a heck of a lot more fun to exert your free will on the world and live your life in a way that balances routine and novelty.

Exploring is Engaging with the Novel

To explore is to engage with novelty, it is to interact with the world in a way that is new to oneself. It most definitely does not only mean going out and finding something absolutely new that no one has ever thought of before (though that is still exploring).

Like big things, little things such as going to a new restaurant, starting a new book/TV show, or going for a walk in a new place are indeed forms of exploration!

By doing small new things every day, we engage with the novel. To a certain extent we all do this every day and are forced to do it every day. For this reason, we must refine our definition of explorer to note that it is those who seek novelty in their everyday life who are explorers.

By acknowledging small acts of exploration, you leave yourself feeling a little more fulfilled with your life. You feel as though you are a step closer to that great ideal of growing 1% a day that will ultimately enable you to be 38x the person you are today at the end of the year (see Atomic Habits by Clear).

What Brought Me To This Concept

When reading Rick Rubin’s book the creative act, he talked about creativity as being a form of exploration. He explained that sometimes when creating great pieces of artistic work, it feels more like you are finding something that already exists rather than creating something entirely new. This led to me thinking about exploration in everyday life.

Eventually though, this concept slipped my mind.

Recently, when I was struggling with motivation, I started to think about goals and what I realized is that perhaps it is not clear absolute goals that I require, but rather the reminder that life is one great exploration. Again, I have always felt compelled to explore, it’s time to lean into that to find the enthusiasm I need to keep going on my great journey.

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