Tuesday, December 16, 2008

15 Ways to Expand Your Horizons

Part of being a survivalist is being able to adapt to a wide range of situations. Just because things have always been a certain way, doesn't mean they will remain that way forever--better to be ahead of the game than behind the curve. Here's some ways to "stretch" what your idea of "normal" is (and maybe learn a few things about yourself in the process):
  1. Eat something you've never eaten before. Try durien, haggis, or pickled pigs feet. The odder the better. You may or may not enjoy it but at least you have stepped up to the challenge and expanded your idea of what food can be.
  2. Attend an event you have never attended before. Sturgis? Cool. Burning Man? Odd (kind of). The ballet? Yawn. The point is to go with an open mind and enjoy the experience as much as possible (if nothing else it can be a learning experience in watching the crowd).
  3. Make money doing something you have never done before. Most recently I have noticed a lot of people hanging around freeway off ramps in the hopes of collecting money from generous motorists and people standing on street corners holding signs for hours on end to advertise going out of business sales. Both of these would be "beneath me" and a very odd way to earn what I assume to be a little bit of money, however, the point is to step out of my comfort zone and do something very different so who knows...you may meet up with me on a street corner one day.
  4. Do something that the kids think is the biggest adventure they have ever seen and the spouse thinks is one of the crazier ideas you have ever had. Some years back after a nice snow and the announcement that school would be cancelled the next day, I got the kids and our camping gear and announced that we would be camping outside...yes, in the snow. Being fair weather campers this was a wholly new experience that the kids loved (the spouse spent the night inside if I recall correctly).
  5. Dress diametrically opposite than how you usually dress. If you are a blue collar worker, dress up in your best suit and head out to the grocery store. Your friends will think you are going to a funeral but you will notice that people will tend to treat you better. If you are a suit and tie guy, dress like a blue collar guy or even a homeless person as an experiment. You will learn a bit about costuming and a bit about human nature (how you are treated according to how you dress).
  6. Try a sport you have never tried before. Is there a climbing wall, golf course, paintball park, or ice rink near your home that you had never thought of using before because you think you are too old, too unathletic, or too embarrassed to try something new? Give it a shot and see what happens.
  7. Talk to someone you would not ordinarily talk to. We are generally forced by circumstance to talk to only certain people (co workers, neighbors, service providers, etc). Use a pretense if necessary (ie: say you are doing research for a project) and invite a homeless guy/the richest guy in town/the tattoo-covered fellow on the corner/the pro sports player for a cup of coffee and a chat.
  8. Take a gamble. Sign up for a poker tournament, drop a twenty on the craps table, buy $5 in pull tabs, or buy a lottery ticket. You don't want to make yourself broke, just experience the gambling/blind luck experience.
  9. Build something with your own two hands. Something as simple as a bookcase or something as extraordinary as your own home will teach you a lot about your own abilities.
  10. Teach someone something. Teach your child how to fish, teach an immigrant how to speak English, teach a class in the community on your favorite topic...the list is endless but the opportunity to learn more by teaching others will be a unique experience.
  11. Learn a new skill. This can be anything from how to knit a sweater to how the play the saxophone. The process of learning is a horizon expanding process.
  12. Set a challenging goal and reach it. The goal needs to be challenging enough that you really have to work for it such as running a marathon or climbing a mountain. The amount of effort it takes to reach a major goal is the experience you are after.
  13. Visit a foreign country, the more different it is from your own culture, the better. Foreign travel is a continual lesson in adapting to various circumstances,
  14. Perform experiments...on yourself. We aren't talking about the Dr Jekyll & Mr Hyde kind, more like the non-life threatening kind. For example, you hear about the benefits of the raw food diet and wonder how it would work on you. Set up a one month raw food diet experiment. The idea is to work through different scenarios and find out what works best for you.
  15. Become an expert in your field. It's amazing how many horizon-expanding opportunities will come your way when you move from middle of the pack mediocre to the top of your field. Whether you are shoeing horses, developing software, or painting portraits, being the go-to person for your particular skill will bring you more insight and opportunity than you ever dreamed of.


  1. I only hear 60% in just one ear, the other one one is dead. While atternding classes in American sign language, we were told to go out to stores and act completely deaf. Some people went out of their way to help us, other just were completely rude. Was a great experiment!.

    One of the students was a nurse, she came to the class because she feltsd that was unable to help people, after the experiment. She was the only one. She did great at the end of the semester. Better than us that we were hearing impaired.

    To my knowledge, she's now teaching ASL. at the senior citizen center. NO PAY.


    An ounce of prevention.

  2. Excellent point. You never know how people will react in various situations, experimenting is a good way to find out.