One of my favorite quotes is by Eleanor Roosevelt. I've quoted this quote at different times in my yoga classes over the years..." do something scary everyday". I'm almost 100 percent positive Eleanor did not mean to go out and do dangerous things, to ourselves or to others. I do not interpret the quote to mean dangerous or even scary in terms of adrenaline junk type fears (e.g. mountain climbing with no belay).
The quote is encouragement to get out of our comfort zones. While this may well insight adrenaline from the fear of being uncomfortable doing something new or that stretches our boundaries the only real danger would be that we change. We become more open. Open to learning from someone else. Open to creating space for others' ideas. And when we become more open we become less reactive, angry, obstinate, etc.
When we think we absolutely know the way or what is right And if or when it is in opposition to any other way or idea we risk becoming stagnant and rigid. We can become unable to hear someone else's side or ideas. We may even give the pretense of listening and yet our minds are made up.
Wise people warn against this time and again, as Eleanor did. Becoming so rigid (which always begins with our thoughts/minds first) can mean stagnancy. It decreases our chances of not only sympathizing but empathizing with another's experiences and life. And those two qualities are necessary in order for us to give, extend and accept grace.
If we can be open to "scary" in ways such as listening to another with respect, trying a new food, or having a new experience then we become happier and healthier. Understanding that staying open does not mean you have to give up your ideas or boundaries and yet you may find space in understanding where someone else is coming from. The space to calm and release negative emotions. We have a better chance of finding the commonality we share in Spirit with all others. This is on the path to peace.
How do we begin? Do something new ...and maybe even that feels uncomfortable, outside of your normal. For example, I recently attended a yoga event and there was a class where the teacher asked of us to dance on our mats at different times. I struggled immensely with this! While I actually enjoy going out and dancing in the setting of live music or a concert, I was intrigued to discover dancing on my yoga mat with 50 plus other practitioners was out of my comfort zone entirely. Almost every atom of my being was screaming to walk out, leave. I learned something of myself. And I believe the experience helped create space where once I was closed. I can now see how that experience is healing and allows for dropping the ego mind.
Recently I invited a friend to attend a mantra music with yoga event and the friend stated "Oh I can't do that, I don't like mantra music." To which I responded "oh, have you tried it before?" and the answer was "no, I just know I wouldn't like it."
This is also what I hear from some children regarding foods. Child: "I don't like strawberries!' Me: "Oh so you've tried them?' Child: "no, I just don't like them". There can be such a deep neuropathic tendency to decide on something without even giving chances. We can be closed from the start and it is to me is an interesting quality of us (humans). Diving into why these pathologies exist or how would be immensely time consuming. And would not change the fact that one of the best ways to overcome our rigidity and to stay alive is to do "something scary everyday."
The use of "everyday" in Eleanor's quote is wisdom. It's understanding that most of us have to practice staying open on a daily basis lest we begin to harden.
"This world is Amazing & you'll forget that again and again your whole life. But if you remember more than you forget, you'll be fine."
- Brian Andreas