Being Adventurous Can Keep You Healthy

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By: , SparkPeople Blogger
3/22/2012 6:00 PM   :  12 comments   :  8,103 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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