I Dare You

285024032_0b8b039b63_m“Iron rusts from disuse; stagnant water loses its purity and in cold weather becomes frozen; even so does inaction sap the vigor of the mind.”

~ Leonardo da Vinci

I dare you… to stretch yourself. I’m not talking about exercise or warming up your muscles. Rather, I’m encouraging you to test your perceived limits; to learn, maybe even begin to master, a new skill; to explore something unknown that you’ve been curious about; to challenge your mind, body or spirit.

With most activities, if we want to get better, it helps to stretch ourselves. Athletes strive to move faster or become stronger. Musicians aim to complete a harder, more intricate piece of music. Writers endeavor to craft that literary treasure. And business people are driven to increase productivity, sales and the bottom line.

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In our busy world, where time flies, if you don’t challenge yourself your creativity and even happiness can stagnate. When the status quo becomes not only the norm but comfortable, you may find yourself unrecognizably following your routines even though they are no longer fulfilling or enriching.

This “dare” doesn’t necessarily mean doing something that makes you anxious or nervous. The point is to open yourself to new opportunities when you’re ready. As you meet new challenges, you encounter new character traits, gain new confidence, and enhance your sense of accomplishment. As you meet your doubts and broaden your horizons, your mind can become too busy to worry about inconsequential things that life throws at us from time to time.

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Something I’m uncomfortable with is being humorous while speaking in front of large groups. Some people are naturally humorous; I’m not. Entertaining and witty I can be, but humorous, not. So I am enrolling in an Improv class to learn how to become more at ease integrating humor. For me, this is a stretch.

You have probably given thought to stretching yourself. What’s preventing you from doing so now? šŸ™‚ For those who are curious how or where to step into this, here are three considerations to get you started.

  1. Take cooking classes.Ā Even if you’re hesitant to go to classes of any sort, especially if you consider yourself an introvert, drag yourself out of the house and be open to chatting up (not for long) strangers. There is fun to be had, watching everyone learn and seeing people enjoy being newly creative. Go stimulate your taste buds!
  2. Volunteer at a local mission or soup kitchen for a day and realize how comfortable your life really is, while helping others at the same time. It will likely broaden your perspectives and reground your sense of appreciation.
  3. Be willing. An attitude of willingness is essential. You can make excuses all day that will keep you from stretching yourself and taking the next step. You need to step away from the demands of every day life. An attitude of willingness will stretch you simply by making a commitment to take the plunge.

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79 thoughts on “I Dare You

  1. Wonderful post, something we all need to do and remember to do. Sometimes it doesn’t even have to be a major thing… last year I learned how to play Mah Jongg- it has helped me to learn to strategize better, and got me over the fear of being a “game player” Not to mention the great connections with the girls I play with every week!

    • Isadora, it’s been a while. Good to have you stop by and share your quite understandable “problem.” šŸ™‚ Acquiring more time, unfortunately, is a matter well above my pay grade. Here’s to the joy in choosing which will receive your valuable time and energy.

      • You’re welcome. Yes it was humbling and a little heart wrenching as well. I was surprised to see so many entire families there and to be honest I was also surprised to see so many kind hearted people volunteering their time, food and / or money to help others. It was an experience that I’d highly recommend to anyone wishing they could do something to help others.

      • This week I started taking a name at random from a random passenger list of a nineteenth century sailing ship from Britain to New Zealand. And I have been exploring who they were, what happened to them, did they make a difference, and so on. It’s turning out to be absolutely fascinating! So far I have explored 7 names off just the one ship of 42 passengers. That so few people have produced politicians, judges, artists, writers, doctors, sports people… the list goes on.

      • I probably have a pile in spam as well…Pursuit of Purpose Project is something that me and my small community group initiated… We use social media to reach out to our community…and look for ways to give back, as well as reach young people who may be finding themselves at a crossroads…

  2. šŸ™‚ Speaks directly to me Eric. I’m taking guitar lessons. I ‘draw’. I am learning about photography. I am encouraging everyone I know to ‘do’ what ever they are curious about learning. šŸ™‚

  3. Interesting how things happen sometimes. I just made a commitment to learn more about photography and post processing. I went to a session yesterday with my photography group and learned a few new things. I will meet your dare. šŸ™‚

  4. I love your choice of photograph for this post! That big feline hulk stretching just before a good ROAR, I imagine. I’m keeping my mind free from inaction (and rust) courtesy of The Teaching Company (Great Courses.) Gosh, I love them. Would you like to know anything about the Hittites? No matter, learning about them makes me happy!

    • The Teaching Company, a great online resource! I’ve downloaded some of their products. And to your kind observation, if we’re going to take on a new personal challenge, what better to do than ROAR. Thanks for the invitation to learn about the Hittites. Gotta pass this time around. šŸ™‚ Enjoy.

  5. Loved this post Eric! It is so important to continuously stretch ourselves. I’ve tried to do it all my life…my latest stretch is photography. It now gives me so much enjoyment. Congrats on your Improv class! I’m sure it’ll be fun.

    • And commendable progress you are obviously making with your photography stretch, Helen. Kudos! Many of the shots your share on your blog are stunning! But then again, nature herself is. Thanks for the Improv class wishes; I’m often up for a good challenge.

  6. Great post, we “stretch” when we step out of our comfort zones. Particularly once my marathon is over, I would also like to learn more about photography. (just learned about “macro” recently), and this has really given me the bug!

  7. I’m actually looking at volunteer posts for my next holiday. I’ve always wanted to do one; and there are so many to choose from that it is proving to be harder than booking a regular holiday for me. Great post.

  8. I agree Eric. I have always been a music fan and this year I have signed up to DJ Society at University. Such is my obsession with music. On the same token though I have avoided learning, fearing that I will be rubbish. Hopefully this will change that

    • Step away from that “…fearing that I will be rubbish” limiting belief and there may be no stopping you! I look forward to learning about your first “live” DJ gig. All the best with your new challenge. šŸ™‚

  9. Comedy is the most intimidating performance art, in my mind. As a musician, I’ve played in front of audiences that weren’t interested in the material, but I had the luxury of filling up awkward silence and potential heckling with sound.

    But I know you can do it. Your audience already wants to laugh and be entertained. You just have to meet them halfway.

    • Agreed. And I’m not even looking to be comedic or stand-up quality. I simply want to learn to use and deliver humor naturally. It’s definitely an art and a gift. Fortunately, most of my audiences don’t have hecklers.

      Appreciate your encouraging words. It’s simply going to take practice and patience.

  10. I agree… to grow, we must learn. I am constantly reading and learning. I’m taking another wine class (though I enjoy the stuff, I know not much!) and love just having out with 20 people I don’t know. Each time has brought me more enjoyment. My next thing is learning Italian (How can one dream of going to Tuscany and not speaking the language?)

    • Curious, Dale, How are you planning to learn lingua Italia? I also have that high among priorities. More than one person has remarked that Rosetta Stone’s program is good for self-learning — at least for starters. Any thoughts/ideas?

      • Well now… I actually have a box of “Living Language” collecting dust on my shelves AND I have the first box set by Pimsler (I ended up sending the others back as the very first intro one had a bug in it and they never responded to my request for a full-functioning one)

        So, Eric, are we going to practice our italiano with each other? šŸ˜€

      • Sure! I simply need to create the time to add this to a full plate of current activities and deliverables. I see it happening, sooner than later, as it’s important to me. Feel free to start without me. That’ll simply inspire me to try to catch up. šŸ™‚

      • šŸ˜‰ My plate is quite full as well… I feel once I’ve finished organizing my space, I’ll be able to see everything more clearly (clutter is not only a physical thing, it is a most mental thing!) and make the time necessary!

    • I have a friend who has been creating stained glass for years. She loves it and even did a 30-minute demonstration for a small group of us at a professional gathering. It’s more work than I had imagined but the fruits of her labor were uniquely beautiful. And it’s simply a hobby for her.

  11. I love this post! I notice that I easily try new things while on ‘holidays’ but not necessarily in every day life. I shall take your advice and try something new tomorrow, perhaps it will only be something small though!

  12. I had never heard that DaVinci quote before, it is perfect ~ and a great start to your post. To carry this thought into not just taking action and getting in motion, but to stretch yourself. That seems to be the real challenge at times ~ pushing yourself enough to begin learning and growing even further. Another wonderful motivational read! Cheers Eric šŸ™‚

    • Ahh, da Vinci, a man of vision and wisdom. Appreciate your poignant comment. I’ve known many an athlete who failed to stretch and unfortunately, stifled their growth and intentions. The same bodes for those who don’t stretch themselves personally. It’s not truly that difficult, is it? šŸ™‚

  13. I applaud you, Eric. I will think of what response I can do for this dare of yours. Very inspirational. I do stretch myself when it comes to work, travel and blogging šŸ˜‰ . I will have one for something personal.

    • Indeed you stretch yourself when it comes to travel and blogging… and we get to see the fruits of your efforts here, Rommel. Thanks for the applause. šŸ™‚ I look forward to learning about your new personal stretch.

  14. I agree about the excuses as we are so prone to putting off what feels out of our comfort zone.. I think I stretched myself this week Eric.. Probably both ways.. As I stretched up to the ceiling to finish of some work on the ceiling my hubby had started… Requiring some plaster filler.. He had gone down the allotments and the job was only a quarter started but looking up had creaked his neck the day before so he had left it.. I didn’t tell him I was going to tackle it, or he would have tried to finish it..
    So I waited until I knew he was out for a couple of hours LOL.. And was very pleased with the results.. And needless to say Hubby was impressed.. and I think re-leaved he didn’t have to climb the step ladder again .. šŸ™‚ And I was glad I dared climb the steps!.. Amazing what we can achieve when we push ourselves..

    Thank you Eric… šŸ™‚ your words are spot on.. šŸ™‚

  15. A double stretch! Kudos to you. Although I hope you didn’t place yourself at physical risk in tackling your domestic task. I’m glad you were both pleased with the results and equally impressed that you, rightfully, saw this as being stretched two ways. šŸ™‚ Thanks for sharing this, Sue!

  16. I just started tai chi two times a week, something I’ve always wanted to do.
    After the first up it’s easy. It’s nice to have reminders and support to step out and add things to my life.

    Alex

    • I believe many would consider taking up a martial arts practice a stretch, even Tai Chi which is less strenuous. Kudos, Alex, for pursuing something you have always wanted to do! You chose action and it’s likely invigorating you. šŸ™‚

      • Thank you for the encouragement Eric. Tai chi is helping me improve my flexibility and balance, increasing my energy and promoting socialization. So far there is no downside.

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  18. a positive ‘dare you’ project that helps us to become a better person. i like it! also, that improv class sounds fascinating and i bet, full of growth potential. thanks!

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