The discovery left me in shock and broke my heart. That morning, my 8th grade teacher walked into class, threw out our seating chart, and told us to privately submit the names of two people that we didn’t want to sit beside. Later that day, I discovered none of the students wanted to sit with me. I had two options: either be relegated to living as a social outcast or make some changes. Inspired by heroes like Indiana Jones and Ferris Bueller, I dedicated myself to hacking social interaction.

Now, as a human behavior scientist and author of The 2 AM Principle: Discover The Science of Adventure, I’ve spent more than a decade studying what causes us to lead fun, exciting and fulfilling lives. In that time, I have been crushed by a bull in Pamplona’s Running of the Bulls, battled Kiefer Sutherland in drunken Jenga, visited all seven continents and plunged into freezing Antarctic waters.

People often ask: “Why do you do it? Why do you study adventure?” First, you must understand the definition of adventure. As I see it, an adventure:

  1. is exciting and remarkable. If it’s not worth talking about it is not culturally relevant.
  2. possesses adversity and/or risk (preferably perceived risk). Some mistakenly believe that adventures require perilous activities, but there are many experiences that we perceive as risky but are statistically safe (e.g. bungee jumping, skydiving, talking to your crush, etc.) Our bodies respond similarly to perceived and real risk, so the key is knowing the difference.
  3. brings about personal growth. You must have ventured out of your comfort zone and pushed some social, physical or emotional boundary.

The true gift of an adventure is that you grow as a person and continuously redefine who you are. In light of this, I think the real question is: Why aren’t you living a more adventurous life?

I would argue that most people either don’t want to be uncomfortable or they have been fooled into thinking that they can’t or don’t deserve to. Some think that they have to do something dangerous or spontaneous to experience adventure. But, adventures don’t just happen by chance. They can be planned and incredibly safe.

You have to ask yourself: What do I want from my life? There is no right answer. Sitting quietly at home reading is just as valid as cliff jumping. But, if you want to grow, develop, and live more adventurously━and are willing to accept the potential of failure and embarrassment━then a world of opportunity awaits you.

To learn tips, tricks, and science that will improve your life, and hear outlandish yet true stories that will inspire you to explore, pick up a copy of The 2 AM Principle: Discover the Science of Adventure.

Originally published at