Last year, my family learned how to scuba dive. Along with my husband and our three grown sons, we wanted to learn a new skill — something we could take with us for years to come and enjoy together on future vacations as well.
When catching up with friends and I would tell them what I was learning, every single one immediately told me, “I could never do that.”
All of them had already given themselves permission to not even try.
They wrote off not just my scuba diving experience off, but every other challenge they could have imagined or dreamed.
To them, the idea of doing something hard on purpose seemed unthinkable.
On occasion, I would get asked, “Why are you doing that?” And after listening to my answer, some people were left in bewilderment while others didn’t quite see the attraction to forcing myself to learn a new skill. After all, no one was making me do this.
I will admit that learning to scuba dive was not easy. I have bouts of claustrophobia and have a fear of drowning. Who wouldn’t, right?
When I am nervous or afraid, I become somewhat sarcastic — what some people interpret as “wit.” I’m just keeping it real. That way, no one sees just how scared I really am.
With scuba diving, one of the skills you must be tested on and pass is filling your mask with water while you are underwater and then getting rid of the water in your mask — while you are still underwater. It sounds impossible. I didn’t believe it could be done either. If you are a nose-breather like me, the last thing you want to do is suck all of the water in your mask in through your nose. Although you have your regulator still in your mouth so you can breath, mastering this skill pushed me hard. I even practiced at home so as not to panic in class.
Eventually, the day came when we actually went out onto a small boat into the Gulf of Mexico where I needed to put everything I had learned to the true test. When it was all said and done, we had all completed six dives to depths of 80 feet below the surface, seen numerous sea species, and I for one learned more about myself than I can remember. In addition, I gained a few things as well.
There are five things we gain by doing things that challenge us and might even be considered “unthinkable.” Here they are.
1. Positive attitude
When we challenge ourselves, we struggle with our fears. We are trying something new and the uncertainty that lies on the other side of any feat could be enough to sway us to never try anything new again. However, once we accomplish what we set out to accomplish, our attitude shifts. Everything that once held us back has no hold over us — and we know it.
The way we think about everything going forward changes. The mental game we play can ruin even the smallest of things we hope to accomplish. Doing something most would consider “unthinkable” changes all of that. Our perspectives are no longer jaded with the opinions of others and instead are filled with the positive mindset one only gets by achieving success. Immediately, we begin to believe where doubt once lived and our mindset is completely different — to the point of never being able to return to the way it once was ever again.
Growing more sure of oneself is not something that comes when the task at hand is easy or predictable. In fact, quite the opposite is true. When we take on a task that seems too daunting for most, our belief in ourselves most likely will be questioned. However, when one replaces that seed of doubt with something much more firm and strong, then the doubt no longer can be planted again. We begin to trust our abilities and push ourselves to be even more than we were before.
As we grow more confident, our sense of adventure heightens and some of our acts become even more daring and brash. We become someone who will not give up and allow any momentary setbacks to propel us forward. Any doubt we once had can’t even find a place to hide anymore.
When we accomplish something scary or hard, we get super excited in ways we don’t while doing just normal everyday things. That excitement just grows as it releases endorphins into our body and we need to “feed that high” the only way we know how — to do more exciting things.
Doing what was once deemed as “unthinkable” creates a frenzy that stirs emotions of thrill and enthusiasm. Without realizing it, that feeling is something we become addicted to as we begin to make different choices that perpetuate that sense of “feeling alive.” It begins to stimulate more ideas, allowing creativity to creep in everywhere we look. At times, our excitement can be lead by impulses otherwise never imagined.
It’s hard to be strong when you aren’t sure you can do something, but after you do it, you become less fearful of anything else. Whether you go looking for a challenge or one just shows up on your doorstep one day, you remember what it took to do something hard and you remind yourself of not only what you’ve done, but who you are.
When you do something “unthinkable,” fear no longer comes along for the ride, hoping you will turn back or chicken out. It knows better. Staying calm and level-headed in times of crisis or chaos will allow you to dig deep and find what your spunk looks like, baring your gnarly teeth of the guts it took all the way. You just wait patiently for the next dare and greet it with open arms, almost as if to say, “Let’s see who gives up first. It won’t be me.” You become braver in every aspect of your life.
We are inspired by the acts and words of others. Especially when they do something we consider to be “impossible.” What was once something we deemed as impossible now has a different look. Without knowing so at the time, our mere witness to such experiences change us in ways we never imagined they would and we begin to want to accept challenges as well. New ideas are born. Our perspective changes and our inquisitive nature becomes more daring and bold, even if others don’t see it right away. We notice the boring and routine in our lives and we begin to ache for the actions we long to take.
Motivation is found in the smallest of acts we take — we begin to exercise to lose weight, beginning with running a simple mile. We begin to learn more from other likeminded individuals and, like sponges, soak up everything we can. Every ounce of knowledge becomes another stepping stone in our quest to move forward and achieve what no one else has believed to be possible. Once that motivation has begun to take shape and move, it becomes something that cannot be stopped or derailed by anyone.
At one time, all things were unthinkable — whether it be fire or a round wheel. Invention and the willingness to try new things often led to failure. However, in learning, we give ourselves chances to do better and often exceed our own expectations.
Once we start to feel the above, our mindset completely changes. The world becomes our playground and amazing things begin to unfold. Most likely, the things we never could have imagined become our foundation for the way we choose to live going forward.
We have heard what others said couldn’t be done. We believe their words to be true.
However, when push came to shove, we proved them wrong. There is a bit of irony thrown in that in order for one to do the unthinkable, once must, in fact, do the unthinkable.
In doing so, the most amazing things change our way of thinking and our outlook in the future, ultimately changing us in the process.
At one time, learning to scuba dive seemed unthinkable to me. Not even a blip on my radar.
Do something hard once in a while. Challenge yourself in ways everyday life doesn’t.
You may think “it can’t be done” or find another reason why you shouldn’t even try. However, giving yourself a chance to find out and gain these five attributes that you will carry with you for the rest of your life will only make you better. Then, the only question will be, “What do I do next?”