This article is part of our series on ‘Discovering Archetypes’, that we are doing on occasion of the Mental Health Awareness Week. To know what archetypes are all about, please read our introductory article.
“I am prepared to go anywhere, provided it be forward” – David Livingstone.
Each one of us, at some point in our lives, have struggled to discover our own uniqueness, questioned social obligations, taken risks, set out to explore the unknown and felt the urge to try something new. It is the explorer archetype present in us, that enables us to do this.
We might know individuals around us, in whom this side is particularly prominent. They refuse to be caged in – they are self-motivated, self-driven and self-sufficient. Independence is their hallmark. These individuals are defined by goals related to personal development, or agendas that serve to improve their spiritual, mental, or physical standing with the world. This is the explorer archetype at its best, driven by a need for freedom, with adventure being their order of the day.
Also known as the seeker, wanderer and pilgrim, the explorer is a character, that often seeks to escape the boundaries of their average life by traveling the world or discovering its many mysteries. The explorer is moved by the possibility of a more fulfilling and authentic life by being more true to herself. This archetype detests boredom, routine and feeling unfulfilled. Conformity is what terrifies the explorer the most.
The explorer archetype has its shadow side, as with all the other archetypes. The shadow side of an archetype contains its weaknesses and certain repressed qualities that it refuses to accept within itself. (You can read more about shadow archetype in our previous article.)
When the shadow side of the explorer archetype begins expressing itself, we may find ourselves making unrealistic plans, increasingly turning to alcohol for ‘thrill’, changing jobs too often, engaging in reckless spending, making hasty decisions, alienating ourselves from our friends and family or taking huge, un-calculated risks.
Basically, the need to be self-sufficient and independent could become so high, that the explorer finds herself becoming a ‘misfit’ in her quest to defy ‘group mentality’. In her search for fulfilment, the explorer may become an aimless traveller, or simply a thrill-seeker. Her goals may often be unachievable or too grand and thus, she ends up disappointing herself.
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Allowing the Explorer in You to Emerge
We often try to live the life of the explorer but we fail or let that self be pushed under the carpet. Especially in the recent times, having to go through our day-to-day lives in an autopilot mode makes it difficult for the explorer within us to feel fulfilled.
The explorer side of us believes that it can only be happiest while on a quest—on the trail and in the surf, over mountains and in caves. We learn to feel hopeless about our routine lives, believing that only a dramatic, whirlwind adventure can bring us relief. But we need to realize that we can actively build moments of fun even through our daily humdrum, to keep us smiling and feeling fulfilled, even between adventures.
- Seek Novelty Daily – Try something new for 30 days, and you will find that your time will become more memorable, more meaningful and you will gain confidence in your ability to enjoy life’s journey no matter where you are headed.
- Get Moving – Indulge your natural instincts and get out in the wilderness—hiking, biking, riding or any outdoor activity that puts you in the ‘zone’; plan a getaway to that serene place where your daily worries can disappear. Psychologists have found that experiences make us happier than material objects because they fulfil higher-level needs. The pleasure also lasts. As the researchers say, “We don’t tend to get bored with happy memories”.
- Create Small Moments of Adventure – You can’t always run for the hills, but you can bring the adventure to you. Instead, find aspects of your routine to explore anew; take a different route to work, cook something new, try wielding the mouse with your non-dominant hand. These little twists might keep your inquisitive spirit engaged.
- Plan Your Next Trip – Timbuktu? Zambia? Paraguay? Just anticipating your next adventure can lift your spirits. According to a study published in the journal of Applied Research in Quality of Life, planning a vacation can boost happiness for eight whole weeks!
If you let your life be a series of experiences – some planned and some spontaneous – then perhaps, the explorer in you can feel alive.
“It is not the mountain we conquer but ourselves” – Edmund Hillary.
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