Being Adventurous Can Keep You Healthy

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By: , SparkPeople Blogger
3/22/2012 6:00 PM   :  12 comments   :  8,646 Views

We all have those people in our lives (or perhaps you’re one of them) who thrive on chaos.  They might be slightly disorganized, risk-takers, easily bored or quick to make decisions.  Referred to as “novelty seekers”, in the past these people have been associated with negative behaviors like compulsive gambling or addictions to drugs and alcohol.  But as new research shows, it’s not necessarily a bad thing to possess some of these traits.  Novelty-seeking can foster personal growth and help you stay happy and healthy as you age.
 
Researchers conducted personality tests on thousands of people, and found that having a curiosity about life and the world has helped throughout history.  For example, explorers have discovered new worlds, learning valuable survival skills.  Broad thinkers have stretched their imaginations, creating the latest tech gadgets to come out of Silicon Valley. 
 
There are even genetic differences between risk-takers and those who tend to play it safe.  The most adventurous of us “are more likely to possess a “migration gene,” a DNA mutation that occurred about 50,000 years ago, as humans were dispersing from Africa around the world, according to Robert Moyzis, a biochemist at the University of California, Irvine.  These genetic variations affect the brain’s regulation of dopamine, the neurotransmitter associated with the processing of rewards and new stimuli (and drugs like cocaine). The variations have been linked to faster reaction times, attention deficit hyperactivity disorder and a higher penchant for novelty-seeking and risk-taking.”  Although genes play a part, it also depends on the environment you grew up in, how you were brought up, etc.   
 
Other research has found a combination of traits make it more likely that a person will be happy, successful, and satisfied with their life.  These include novelty-seeking, persistence and self-transcendence.  People who are persistent tend to have a “never give up” attitude.  Even if things don’t turn out the way they planned, there’s always next time.  According to one expert, self-transcendence is “sometimes found in disorganized people who are immature and do a lot of wishful thinking and daydreaming, but when it’s combined with persistence and novelty-seeking, it leads to personal growth and enables you to balance your needs with those of the people around you.”
 
Too much of anything can cause problems, so it’s good to have balance in your life.  I’m a pretty predictable person.  I like schedules, organization, and don’t do so well with chaos.  I’ve had to get better about that since having kids, since my children don’t always follow the patterns that I’d expect.  They’ve taught me to learn to be flexible and step out of my comfort zone, even if it’s not always easy.  Maybe my kids are slowly bringing out my adventurous side.
 
What do you think?  Are you a novelty-seeker?  How has that trait hurt or helped throughout your life?


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Comments

  • ANGSGETTINREAL
    12
    I tend to straddle the fence. I like comfort, but I do get bored. Fast. I work in a factory and love my job, but when I get bored I listen to audio books. On weekends, I like to knit and watch tv, but I look forward to getting out and walking around town. And, at least once a month, I plan some kind of adventure for my family. Nothing dare-devil-ish. It might simply be a trip to a nearby festival. It's all about the experience, being able to say "I've been there and done that!" - 3/24/2012   3:30:58 PM
  • 11
    I would like to know more about the genetic component! I have always speculated on what made my dad and husband leave their comfortable hometowns and move on though others in the family stayed put! I enjoy moving and seeing new places but know some people who absolutely panic at the idea. - 3/23/2012   11:01:06 PM
  • 10
    As someone who is making plans to zip line for her B'Day (and it's a BIG one) next month thank you for letting me know I'm ok! - 3/23/2012   12:43:38 PM
  • 9
    I think I fall into the "too much of anything" category. The first paragraph of this article describes me perfectly. I'm very easily bored, disorganized, and make decisions way too quickly. I guess there is a silver lining to my hyper, high-intensity, and adventure/novelty seeking ways! :) - 3/23/2012   11:14:20 AM
  • 8
    I love being adventurous and finding fun, exciting, challenging things to conquer. I am having a terrible time finding someone to do them with me. I purchase packages from different areas and then I end up going by myself since I have no one to share them with. I thought that if it was free for someone that it would help, but it doesn't. - 3/23/2012   11:12:23 AM
  • 7
    I like adventure. I like walking trails, in the woods much better walking along the road trying no to get run over. - 3/23/2012   10:32:59 AM
  • 6
    I'm with PLMitch, part adventure, part comfort. Once I find a thing I like to do I do it a lot, but I am also wiling to try new things. - 3/23/2012   9:15:02 AM
  • 5
    I'm a bit of a contradiction -- part of me likes novelty and change, the other likes his routines! Probably my biggest "novelty" thing is work -- I like being challenged and enjoy change there.

    From an exercise perspective, I really shook my system up when I started running late last year. I've NEVER been a runner, but now after doing it for going on 4 months, I LOVE the challenge of it!

    So in 2012 I need to continue to push myself to keep trying new things.... - 3/23/2012   9:10:12 AM
  • FOXYJAY
    4
    I just recently heard a the quote: "life starts at the end of your comfort zone" which made me think a lot. As I'm dealing with anxieties, I really have to push myself sometimes to step out of it and discover new incredible things. It's often tough struggle, but more often worth it :) - 3/23/2012   5:03:54 AM
  • 3
    Wonderful advice. These positive traits come from the "Big Five" personality theory. It's good to see they really do apply everywhere - 3/22/2012   11:53:12 PM
  • OVERTH40
    2
    BobCat58...go out and find something you enjoy doing. When they see you having fun, they'll want to join you. Then you can help them out of their 'rut'...;) - 3/22/2012   8:43:51 PM
  • BOBCAT58
    1
    This is the kind of advice I like to hear! My family and friends always seem to want very little adventure for themselves, and none for me. I always get the impression they'd be just as happy if I did nothing but sit around and tat doilies (I like to tat, but I like other things, too!) If I try to do anything they're all cautionary advice and telling me how much they worry about me. I've cut major chunks out of my life by trying to keep them happy, and sometimes eating was a way to suppress all that energy, but no more, not if I can manage to crawl out of the rut I've gotten into and find the courage to try new things! - 3/22/2012   7:48:59 PM

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