Do you remember those summers when you were a kid? Did you have fun? Were they filled with adventure? Did you go back to school feeling recharged?
Have you noticed that as an adult, your summers fly by, and they just aren’t as juicy and memorable? Well, let’s make sure that doesn’t happen THIS summer.
Summer is supposed to be fun and rejuvenating, but that doesn’t just happen on its own. We have to put some attention on it if we want to make it fabulous.
So, I’m creating the “Selfish Summer Challenge.” Want to play?
Now, before your feathers get ruffled over the word “selfish,” let me assure you that in creating a summer for yourself that you’ll never forget, you won’t be leaving your friends and family out in the cold—you’ll be able to give to them from a warmer and more fulfilled place.
How do you step into a feel-good summer? By opening up to new experiences and adventures.
The other day, I was thinking about one of my favorite summers. It was the first time I went away to summer camp, and on the second day there, I was so miserable that I called my parents begging them to come pick me up. Being the wise and experienced parents that they were, they didn’t succumb to my pleas. Even my last resort guilt tactic of “if you loved me, you’d come get me” didn’t work. They knew my discomfort would pass and I would end up having a blast. They were right!
The fastest path to renewal and fun is to be open to new experiences and venture into new territory. By doing so, your brain will create new neural pathways that will support your ongoing happiness.
Four Steps to Play the Selfish Summer Challenge:
Some steps may feel easy to do while some may feel uncomfortable. Play with all of the steps, no matter what your initial reaction is.
1. Take a Mini Adventure Every Week
Each week have one novel, interesting, and out-of-the-ordinary excursion—something that you don’t normally do. Break out of your routine and find an adventure that ignites your passion or brings you joy, even if those around you roll their eyes. Go to an art exhibit, camp out in your own back yard for a night, or explore a local landmark. (For example, I’ve never walked across the Golden Gate Bridge though I’ve lived next to it much of my life and drive across it every week. I’ll do that by the end of this summer and report back to you with photo evidence.)
2. Give Time to Your Body
Our bodies need loving attention and lots of movement. Take at least nine minutes each day to care for your body—walk, do qigong, dance, take a salt bath, or whatever will feel good to you. I just finished a one-hundred-day qigong practice, following along to the YouTube video below took nine minutes each day. That seemed like so many minutes!
At first, I thought I was too busy to do the practice every day, and there was no way I’d complete it, but I stuck with it. Now that I’ve completed it, I feel energized and rejuvenated and know that I can carve nine minutes out of each day. I’m going to switch to a different practice for the summer, but I’m keeping those nine minutes for my body. They’re mine.
3. Do the Great-Fullness Practice
Pick a theme for each day. For example, water: any time you see water during the day, use it as a cue to experience gratefulness in that moment. Each day, pick a new theme. I learned this exercise from an eighty-six-year-old Benedictine monk named Brother David Steindl-Rast, who is one of the happiest people I’ve ever met. I tell a great story about him and describe the practice in more detail in my book, Happy for No Reason.
4. Take a Summer Class
Sign up for flower arranging, improvisation, salsa dance, nude figure drawing, pantomime, or whatever sings to you. This is a chance to take action on something you’ve wanted to do for a while and move out of your comfort zone.
Remember, even though it’s called The Selfish Summer Challenge, the idea is to have fun. Please let me know how you’re doing with your “selfish summer” in the comments section below!
Here’s to creating a summer you’ll never forget!
Originally published here.