My heart is pumping, my energy is electric, and my ears are still ringing. I just got out of a concert with my girlfriend and had an absolutely awesome time. The atmosphere was great, the music was pretty solid, and I got to spend time with the person I love and see her completely in her element, which brings the biggest smile to her face.
Admittedly though, the concert wasn’t something that I was overly excited about. It was for a band that I don’t really know, besides listening to the odd song (or twelve) in her car, and from what I do know, the music is not something I enjoy. In fact, I’ve been know to use the hyperbole, “this makes my ears bleed” in reference to the music on several occasions. Sound a bit dramatic? Well, I never claimed not to be, so as they say, “sue me”.
In addition to not being excited about the music itself, I also wasn’t very enamored with the idea of waiting outside for nearly 45 minutes in freezing cold weather. I’m not a concert goer, and didn’t realize this was a part of the process, so while I had on a jacket, let’s just say I didn’t dress appropriately (neither did she, choosing to look good rather than feel good, but that’s her choice). During this 45 minute wait, my patience wore thin and I began to get a bit grouchy. Realizing that this night wasn’t really about me and understanding how much it meant to her, especially the fact that I went with her, I did my best to put on a good front, but by no means was it easy. It helped to be able to physically see her excitement: a beaming smile on her face, abounding energy, and the literal jumping for joy that she did as we realized the line was moving and we were heading inside.
The concert as a whole was pretty damn amazing. The music was great, the atmosphere was killer, and there are few things more enjoyable than live music. If you’ve never been to St. Andrews Hall in Detroit, or another small, intimate venue for a concert, I highly recommend it (here I go recommending concert venues when I just said I don’t frequent concerts). I even loosened up enough to do some head banging and move around a bit (I wouldn’t call it dancing, because we were shoulder to shoulder and the music wasn’t conducive to my “stripper hip” style dancing, as my older brother calls it).
All-in-all, the entire experience got me thinking about how easily I could’ve had a terrible night, and even worse, ruined her night as well, but didn’t. In the past this likely would’ve been the case. I’m headstrong, I like what I like, and I have a tendency to be a bit of a curmudgeon when in a situation I’d rather not be. Thankfully, as I’ve gotten older, and somewhat wiser, (those things never move at the same pace), I’ve learned how to open myself up to almost any situation or opportunity and make the most of it. As a result, my life has flourished, I’ve experienced more in the past few years than I have in most of my life, and I’ve grown immensely as an individual. I think this is a very powerful mindset to adapt, and I wanted to share some tips with you on how you can make the most out of any situation, find joy in everything you do, and live your absolute best life as a result.
Be Open to Opportunities
While you don’t have to be Jim Carrey in “Yes Man”, it’s important that you’re open to opportunities when they arise. You don’t have to say yes to everything, or get outside your comfort zone in everything you do, but you should be mindful of the mental blocks and barriers that may be holding you back from experiencing and enjoying life.
We all have those barriers. It’s a defense mechanism against change which the body can internalize as a bad thing, and does in most cases. That’s why situations outside your comfort zone make you nervous or feel awkward, your body is sending you signals to resist change, but change is growth and growth is truly the key to long-term success, happiness and fulfillment. Become aware of those thoughts, be vigilant in battling them, and remember that sometimes that bit of nervousness or fear (not the “someone’s about to murder me” type fear), is actually a really good thing. It’s a sign that you’re stepping into the next level of your self.
Embrace the Moment
Not only do you need to be open to those opportunities to actually embark upon them, but you also need to be open to embracing the moment itself. That means putting aside any preconceived notions or judgments you may have, and opening yourself up to the experience itself. It means being present and tapping into your inner child: that youthful, open-minded and excited for everything person that still lives inside all of us. Remember when you were a kid and anything could be fun if you tried hard enough? (Like going to the grocery store and playing hopscotch on the tiles). That’s how you should approach each and every moment if you want to experience new things and live your best life.
Maybe you don’t like the music at the concert, the sport that you’re watching, or the movie that’s playing etc., but that doesn’t mean you can’t find something enjoyable in the situation. There is always something to take away from and enjoy about a situation, but you will never be able to find it if you venture forth with a closed mind.
Challenge yourself to try new things and to do so with an open mind. Maybe it’s a new food, a different event, or an entirely new environment that you decide to stretch your boundaries with, regardless, make sure you are doing it free of judgment, bias, or preconceived notions. This will give you the opportunity to truly experience whatever it is you are doing/trying/seeing, and grant you the ability to objectively decide if that new experience is something you’d like to do again, or something you will pass on going forward (it’s important to say no to things, just make sure you’re saying no from a place of open-mindedness and understanding).
By opening myself up to and embracing the experience (that was going to happen regardless of if I enjoyed it or not), I was able to find joy in the moment, and even found a few songs that I liked! You never know what will come of experiences until you embark upon them, but I promise there will always be positives if you choose to find them.
“Fake It Til’ You Make It”
If nothing else works, “fake it til’ you make it”. Sometimes simply acting like you enjoy something, and buying into the process will give you a chance to enjoy something you never thought you would. In the case of the concert I attended with music that I never listen to, both the band and the genre, I was totally out of my element. I didn’t know how to dress, how to act, how to “be”. This easily could’ve put me in a place where I was closed off and unable to buy into the experience.
What did I do? I faked it. I watched and picked up on the vibes of the people around me, and did as they did. I moved to the music in a way that they did, bought into the energy they were putting out, and as a result I found myself far more engaged in and enjoying the music than I ever thought I could. It’s actually pretty amazing to think about, considering just a few hours prior to writing this I would’ve liked nothing more than to avoid ever hearing the bands music, and now, after the fact I am realizing I thoroughly enjoyed every aspect and moment of the performance.
If you’re at a concert, dance. And if you can, sing along. If you’re at a sporting event, join along in their chants and revelry. If you’re in a fitness class, turn up your energy and give it your all. No matter what you do, if you buy-in to the process, and even if sometimes you have to “fake it til’ you make it”, you’ll give yourself a chance to experience it as it should be, and you’ll find that more times than not, you find something enjoyable about the experience.
My hope for you is that you never shy away from experiences, just because of what you’ve heard or how you feel about that experience. While it’s certainly important to be able to say no and filter certain things out, I think it’s equally as important, if not more so, to be open to saying yes and trying new things. While you may not always find a new band you love, hobby you enjoy, or food you just have to have again, you’ll find more times than not that the experience, regardless of the outcome, is always worth it. Open yourself to new experiences and opportunities, embrace the moments when you’re in them, and if necessary, “fake it til’ you make it” until you buy-in to the process and experience itself. Doing so is going to open up endless opportunities for you to flourish and grow, and you’ll learn things about yourself you never knew.