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Why TLC Was Wrong About Chasing Waterfalls

Multnomah Falls

Hi, my name is Stevie… And I’m a waterfall chaser.

I also don’t stick to the rivers and the lakes that I’m used to.

Now you might be all like “But TLC said ‘DON’T go chasing waterfalls!'”

Yes, they did. I love that song (90’s music has a special place it my heart), but I disagree with the message of the chorus…

“Don’t go chasing waterfalls
Please stick to the rivers and the lakes that you’re used to”

I remember when it first hit me. My thought process went something like this… “Wait, so they’re telling me to stay in my comfort zone and never take risks? Fuck that.”

I get the meaning behind the verses; avoid the destructive aspects of life like violence, drugs, addiction and precarious sex. That makes sense, obviously. But the chorus is the antithesis of what I believe to be good advice.

If all you do is stick to the rivers and the lakes that you’re used to, you’ll be a slave to your comfort zones and live a life of lukewarm mediocrity. Nope, not for me. I’d rather explore.

Hiking Oregon

Comfort Zones Are Worse Than Death

Always sticking to what you’re used to is not living, it’s just barely existing. When you stay in your comfort zones, you basically live the same day over and over again for 75 years and call it a life.

There is no learning in that; no exploration, adventure, mystery, fun, fulfillment, excitement or growth. Comfort zones stifle growth. Life without growth is just dying slowly.

Build a habit of stepping out of your comfort zones. You can even start with tiny steps, such as turning your shower cold for the last 30 seconds. With a cold shower there is no risk, a ton of health benefits and you build the muscle of leaving your comfort zone.

Show me someone who continuously leaves their comfort zones, and chances are they’re someone who finds courage, success, fulfillment, passion, excitement, personal growth and what it really means to live.

At the end of your life, you’ll regret the things you didn’t do as opposed to the things you did do. Build some momentum in the direction of new experiences and continuous growth.

Waterfall Oregon

Act In Spite of Fear

We all feel fear, especially when stepping into the unknown (exploring rivers and lakes we’re not used to). What separates the hero from the coward is taking action in the face of fear. Everyone feels fear, but the hero chooses to be courageous despite the fear.

“Courage is a heart word. The root of the word courage is cor – the Latin word for heart. In one of its earliest forms, the word courage meant “To speak one’s mind by telling all one’s heart.”
– Brene Brown

Being courageous doesn’t mean being stupid or impulsive. It means not letting fear determine your decisions and taking calculated risks.

How do you build courage? Again, start with small steps. You don’t have to go climb a volcano and slay a dragon right off the bat.

Waterfall Thailand

Courage Momentum

One of the keys to truly living is building what I call “courage momentum.”

Here’s how you begin to build courage momentum. Notice things in life that make you slightly uncomfortable and take action when you feel that resistance.

Cold showers, like I mentioned before, are a great way to practice this. Another way is to say “hi” to people in public, even when you feel awkward. You can also try a new food or a new recipe. You can take a weekend trip to somewhere you’ve never been. There are so many courageous micro-decisions that you can make each day.

If you practice small acts of courage daily, you will build unyielding courage before you know it. This is what I call “courage momentum.”

Lake Titicaca

Follow Your Heart

The two main motivating forces are love and fear. Choose love over fear in every situation.

Fear is constriction and limitation. Love is expansion and growth. Fear is the essence of your ego. Love is the essence of your higher self.

Notice when your ego tries to run the show. Be aware when it attempts to manipulate your decisions based upon fear. Simple awareness robs the ego of its power and gives you the choice.

Don’t chase the desires of your ego. Don’t run from home out of fear. That’s how you end up like the sad stories TLC warned us about. Explore because you truly want to explore, and follow your heart.

Trust your intuition and make decisions out of love. Be courageous, not limited by fear.

Explore, learn and grow. Just remember to follow your heart, choosing love over fear, and you will discover beautiful new lands.

So here’s my perspective on the situation…

DO GO CHASING WATERFALLS.

Much love.

– Stevie Wander

PS – Every picture in this post was taken by me, while chasing waterfalls.
 

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2

5 Reasons Why Traveling is Like Playing a Video Game

IMG_0644

Pai, Thailand

Here you are…

You materialized in the third dimension, popped out of your momma and ended up a resident of planet Earth.

So don’t you want to explore it? Don’t you want to see what it’s all about? Aren’t you curious?

I know I am (to say the least). And deep down, beneath all of the fear, you too want to explore as much as you can before you’re gone.

The concept of life being like a video game fascinates me. For many reasons, I think it’s such a profound (and accurate) comparison.

Beyond the argument that so many signs are pointing to this universe being some sort of grand holographic simulation*, the principles of video games also apply to life in general. That’s the aspect which I want to focus on here.

Read another post of mine about life being like a video game here: Life is a Video Game: The Challenge Perspective

We only grow through overcoming obstacles. Everything is a learning experience. If life weren’t challenging, it wouldn’t be fulfilling, rewarding or fun. Think about it this way, would you play Super Mario if all you had to do was casually stroll to the right the whole time, meeting no obstacles? Of course not. That would get boring after two minutes. The same theme applies to life.

Travel is an aspect of life where the video game comparison is unavoidable. Here’s why…

5 Reasons Why Traveling is Like Playing a Video Game:

1. You Expand Your “Mental Map”

The mental map is a concept that my friend (shout out to Cole King) and I came up with while we were working as pizza delivery drivers in high school. We compared learning new streets to the maps found in many video games. You know how in video games the map starts as completely black, and as you explore it, it clears? (You can see a good example of it in this video.) Well, the same applies to your own mental map in life. Everything is just a mysterious abyss when it’s unknown. And you “clear out” and materialize that abyss by personally exploring it.

It would be a damn shame to die with only a tiny speck of your mental map cleared out. There’s so much out there (and in there) to see and experience. Make your story exploratory!

2. You Level Up Through New Experiences

I love the concept of “leveling up.” When traveling, I find myself gaining new insight (like whoa), broadening my perspective and developing skills at a mindblowing rate. Improving at anything is leveling up, and travel is conducive to improvement in many facets of life.

When traveling, you continuously expose yourself to new experiences. You’re perpetually launching yourself out of you comfort zone. You don’t learn or grow by going through the same monotonous routine all of your life. New experiences provide the fertile ground for you to grow, level up and evolve into the greatest version of yourself.

3. You Meet New People (Allies)

If you’ve done any traveling, you know that you meet so many awesome, interesting people. You learn from all of these people too. Everyone you meet is a teacher. People you meet are like allies you encounter in a video game.

4. Each Place You Go to is a New Level

Each and every place has its own unique culture, landscapes, architecture, quirks and personality. They are all different levels within the video game that is your life.

5. You Must Defeat the Bosses

In most video games, there are bosses to defeat at the end of each level. The “bosses” in life, however, are often intangible forces and/or fears to overcome. For example, You may have a fear of heights that you defeat by cliff jumping.

“Bosses” that I’ve defeated on this trip:

Travel anxiety – The fear of missing a flight, not finding a place to stay…etc. All of that fear based on projecting into the future. I’ve learned to do what I can, let go and be present instead of uselessly worrying about the future.

Fear of rejection – This fear would come up when approaching women. But I’ve acted in spite of this fear so many times that it’s no longer is a big deal. And you know what? Every time I’ve said “fuck it” and approached someone I wanted to talk to, it turned out well (or it’s a funny story). I’ve even met some really, really amazing people doing this. Maybe I’ll elaborate on it more in another post.

Striving syndrome – I’m hyper-critical of myself most of the time. I constantly put pressure on myself to keep improving, be a better person, learn more, write more and stay focused on goals. This is good when it comes to achievement, but it can rob you of the bliss of allowing yourself to just BE. There have been many moments where I had to stop and give myself permission to just BE; to simply enjoy the moment, with no goals and nothing to strive for. It’s difficult to balance being grateful for where you are right now and continuously improving. But I’m finding that balance. Due to my awareness of this tendency within myself, the “striving syndrome” now has less of a grip on me.

Kayaking in Dubrovnik, Croatia

Kayaking in Dubrovnik, Croatia

Where I’ve been to so far on this trip (aka the details of my mental map expansion):
Marseilles, France
Barcelona, Spain
Croatia – Dubrovnik, Split, Hvar Island, Zagreb
India – Pune
Thailand – Bangkok, Chiang Mai, Pai
Malaysia – Kuala Lumpur

This trip feels like I’ve squeezed multiple lifetimes into this journey called “Stephen Parato.” I’m so grateful to be doing this and I want to inspire you to follow your heart as well.

Have fun and keep leveling up.

Greetings from Kuala Lumpur, Malaysia.

– Stevie P!

PS – For pictures and some short goofy videos of my travels, follow me on Instagram @steviepthatsme

*Resources regarding our reality being a holographic simulation:
Physicists May Have Evidence Universe Is A Computer Simulation
The Holographic Universe by Michael Talbot

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