Research is increasingly confirming what adventurers have known all along: Planning an adventure is good for you.
The adventure doesn't have to be epic. Studies have shown that it's the anticipation that matters, not the scale of the activity. The positive benefits, whether you're planning to climb K2 or a walk in the woods, are the same.
The key is intentionality. When we focus too much on activities that feel good in the moment, we miss out on the benefits that arise when we live with purpose.
Purpose requires planning and coordination. Purpose is deliberate. True happiness, as slippery as it may be, rarely arises from quick fixes. It's about actively pursuing a state of being defined by deep satisfaction.
"True happiness, as slippery as it may be, rarely arises from quick fixes."
No one says that deep satisfaction is easy. We can't choose our neighbors, control our DNA, or schedule when our transmission gives out. Our individual paths to happiness, even how we define happiness, can be vastly different. But there are certain small things that we can control—an adventurous approach to life is one of them.
Adventure is concrete. We can mark it on a calendar. We can find it on a map. We can plan for it, train for it, and invite friends to it. And even if the adventure is a bust, the enjoyment that comes from the anticipation is quantifiable. It's a slow-burning dose of happiness that last a long time.
"Adventure is concrete. We can mark it on a calendar. We can find it on a map. We can plan for it, train for it, and invite friends to it."
There are health benefits, too. Happiness not only feels good, but it's also good for us—like broccoli or green tea. It's been linked to all sorts of perks, from a greater sense of self-worth to a stronger immune system to a longer life.
So dig out your camping gear, buy a new pair of hiking books, or chart a route on a road that you've always wanted to explore. Do it with intention, enjoy the process, and keep this in mind: The path to happiness is paved with adventure.