More scary for me are the mundane things - like sending back food I'm not happy with, asking for a raise, or trying to speak my embarrassing version of the local language.
It's funny that to think you could be far more at ease lost and hungry in a strange land than asking for a dinner reservation at a fancy restaurant.
I'm like GP in that there are many mundane thing that are far more outside my comfort zone than "extraordinary things".
E.g. starting a social conversation with a stranger for any reason takes a lot for me. I also don't like making phone calls, and will invent excuses to myself to avoid doing them if I'm not careful. I'm aware of most of the things I try to avoid, and so keep it in check through conscious effort, but it's something I have to constantly work at.
But ordering food in a strange country without knowing the language, for example? That's fun
I went to Beijing a few years back, and one night our hosts didn't have time to entertain we asked at our hotel for a restaurant recommendation. They tried sending us to a downtown tourist trap, but we refused and asked for something local.
After much arguing (they did not like the idea of sending us walking down the road when we did not speak nor read Mandarin), we got a piece of paper with a carefully written name of a local restaurant that should be easy to find, and walked down the road holding it up to compare it to signs.
Nobody there spoke a word of English, and my Mandarin was limited to about 10 words from a phrase book, but we pointed and gesticulated and got a fantastic meal without any problem.
Like GP, to me if something falls in the "crazy (or not so crazy) adventure" category, it pretty much automatically overcomes my inhibitions. For example, I went to France on an exchange while at school and had no problems walking up to total strangers to ask for help in halting French, while at home I'd have worked hard to avoid having to ask anyone for help.
I wish I knew how to trigger this change at will.
Are you more cautious with your words when you have your name attached to the post?
So, if you actually _live_ in a country where they speak $NOT_YOUR_LANGUAGE, trying to order food is a daily thing that would(?) expand your comfort zone.
If you are just passing by in a random country it's just a funny story ("remember that time we had to ask for food in $NOT_YOUR_LANGUAGE?!").
Of course, passing by a random country may be the norm for you :)
In a way, it's like saying: you need to be confident to pick up, and it's something you can learn by trying over and over again.
On the other hand, you can also try a lot of approaches while drunk (= not normal/daily state), and the next morning you'll not feel much more confident.
A conversion involves your whole belief and truth system, and will affect you eternally as you have accepted the faith's beliefs about the afterlife and rejected other faiths.
Such a decision should not come as a result of other people's expectations or an eagerness to push boundaries.
Do you really think that it's okay to condone the subjugation or murder of all people that won't convert to Islam, and then say that you didn't really believe the words you said?
Claiming that you are a Muslim is saying that you support and agree with Islamic doctrine and everything that comes with it. I'm not here to argue about what Muslims believe, but you should understand what you are condoning and take it seriously.
When you are willing to say things that you don't believe, you make your words meaningless.
Claiming that you are a Muslim is saying that you support and agree with Islamic doctrine and everything that comes with it. I'm not here to argue about what Muslims believe, but you should understand what you are condoning and take it seriously
I don't believe that the "subjugation and murder of all people that won't convert to Islam" is in fact a central tenet of "Islamic doctrine". Certainly not in any formal sense, and even the more negative interpretations of Islamic history indicate that forced conversion was rare - despite the fact that subjugation certainly occurred.
While it is true that Islamic history is marred by conflict, I would posit that 1) un-provoked conflict is not specifically called for in Muslim religious texts and 2) even in the case of conflict, forced religious conversion is not indicated in any fashion nor carried out in practice.
If either of the above points are incorrect, please point me towards an appropriate source indicating otherwise.
In short, this verse from the Quran sums it up pretty well (http://quran.com/9/5):
"And when the sacred months have passed, then kill the polytheists wherever you find them and capture them and besiege them and sit in wait for them at every place of ambush. But if they should repent, establish prayer, and give zakah, let them [go] on their way. Indeed, Allah is Forgiving and Merciful."
This shows that Islam calls for death of non-believers or it requires conversion — "repent, establish prayer, zakah (basically Islamic tax)". I said subjugation because the Quran does allow for non-believers to live as long as they are subdued and pay the tax (http://quran.com/9/29).
If any would argue that this is not relevant, you must first understand the Islamic doctrine of abrogation. This surah was chronologically the second-to-last surah, and therefore it wins in any dispute or contradictory scripture.
Again, most Muslims don't believe this. But according to Islamic law what I said holds firm.
Further explanation in this video http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=nFC8uQfJgDo
The point is, he became comfortable with all of those situations. They felt tough, but that's just something to overcome.
Now he uses discomfort as a heuristic. If he's uncomfortable with something (for no obvious good reason), then he should do that thing, because it will make him a better person.
The post probably could have been called "grow, grow, grow", if that helps.
I'm personally about to start something that makes me uncomfortable, but I think it will be a good thing. It was nice to read this.
This is common sense. No need to expand too much on this, but there is a flipside on the experiences that Derek Sivers did not talk about. When you do unusual things, when you go deep enough into another culture, you will be changed. You must leave a part of your (cultural) luggage at the door.
For instance, for any Westerner, going into China for some time will change you own vision of the world, and sometime not only in a superficial way. Your political beliefs will probably be shaken (in China left is right, and right is left, compared to France). Your values will be questioned (confort, friendship, professionalism are different).
What is interesting is that there will still be some invariants. Even after many years in China, I am still French. My political beliefs have changed. My values have changed. What have not changed is probably what defines me the best.
I like reading stories of my peers and heroes that are doing life-expanding things I'd never considered. Then I realized I'd never shared mine.
I think it is a great post esp. when I am also the kind of person who likes to do new stuff, travel new place and keep pushing my boundary.
Thanks for sharing your experience.
I can't believe some of the "I don't get it" comments that seem to pop up now on every single article.
Maybe to eliben, this is all second nature, so he's never understood the point of such a post? Or perhaps it's completely foreign to him...
Meh, "Explain Like I'm 5 (eli5)" is a great idea, I think. Even better if you also give links to more professional explanations as well.
I have come to a place in my life where I am considering doing a switch. A complete switch, professionally, and have been nervous and even thinking of not bothering.
But this post just reminded me, that sometimes it's good to push ourselves outside of our comfort zone.
P.S. I love Derek's posts.....always so poignant and pseudo-poetic.
Then again...if having a boy in Singapore is the limits of the comfort zone, I might feel more comfortable working the list backwards...right? :D
If my kids really wanted to join the Singaporean military when they grow up, that's fine, but locking them into that when it's completely unnecessary seems selfish in this situation. I'd certainly have that opinion of my parents had they done the same to me.
"To be alive is to be at risk, to be free is to be at risk, and to be powerful is to be at risk."
Half of any story makes it nothing more than a creative license fantasy.
That said, a small number of them have had an overall very positive and life enriching experience.
I am not surprised that Sivers is a musician. I tend to stereotype aspiring artists and musicians as wanderers/dreamers who will most likely never make any money and end up bitter and impoverished for the rest of their lives. Gypsies they call them in Romania.
Can you imagine a whole society of people with this attitude. Hippie commune comes to mind.
I suppose his point is: why look for happiness in a disruptive engagement?
If you're happy/content/satisfied with a vegetative state ... well, good for you. You've controlled your desires, an important aspect of remaining peaceful.
But if happiness ain't about "lying on the sofa" for you, you've got to face the truth: get off your arse and get disrupting like a gypsy!
But I really love that brilliant comment on Siver's blog:
"If you want to have something you've never had before, you're going to have to do something you haven't done before." Rev Barbara King
Sivers talks up all the exiting things he has done, but does not mention all of the work that he put in and all the luck and good fortune that he came across to come by so much wealth which in turn allowed him to be able to do such things.