I respect people getting rushes from exciting things like jumping out of planes. I've parachuted from two--first when my friend dragged me with her because her boss dragged her and unexpectedly loved it. That said, most adrenaline-rush activities are passive, polluting, and deprive you of the challenge of motivating yourself to do it.

Meanwhile, singing in public freaks me out and I envy the thrill of the woman above. Business, especially entrepreneurship, can be thrilling if you challenge yourself.

Why not jump out of a plane?

Despite having done a few popular adrenaline-rush activities, several problems make the mainstream ones not so enticing:

  • They are big ordeals removed from regular life. You usually have to
    • Plan around them
    • Travel far
    • Pay a lot
  • They pollute
    • Flying burns a lot of fossil fuel
    • So does driving there
    • I love skiing, for example, but running businesses in the snow seems to use a lot of energy and require cutting down a lot of trees
  • They coddle you
    • You have to sign crazy legal forms
    • You have to wear a lot of safety harnesses
    • You have to do what they say how they say
  • The activities become passive
    • You physically participate, but don't actively decide anything once you start

They seem contrived--like riding a roller coaster. I like roller coasters. So why not just ride one, save the effort, and not risk fooling yourself that you're playing a more active role than you are?

Active examples you choose to do

How about surfing? I don't know about you but it's the last major skill I want to master and experience the joy of. I can't say much about it since I've only tried twice and both times there were almost no waves.

If you live by a beach with waves, you can achieve the goals of skydiving, but you do it yourself. Of course, you may have to take lessons, but that's the point: you improve yourself through activity.

How about playing a competitive sport like Ultimate Frisbee? Or individual ones like rock climbing?

Swimming across the Hudson River, or whatever river is near you, has none of the downsides above, yet gives you the value of the adrenaline-rush activities. That's part of why I did it.

  • You choose to do it
  • You already have the equipment
  • It's risky (which you can mitigate with friends and boats)

I can't overstate the importance of choosing to do it, not letting it happen to you.

A Short List of Adrenaline-Rush Activities You Can Do Today

Here are things I've done or want to that create adrenaline and improve my life by developing skills or connections. You'll note many get their adrenaline from social interaction, performance, and commitment--things that improve your life.

If none resonate with your passions, I hope they'll get you thinking of what you can do, not what you can't. If you have better ideas, post them.

  1. Introduce yourself to a stranger
  2. Contact someone to do business with at the edge of your network or beyond
  3. Sprint at full speed. When was the first time you did?
  4. Take a cold shower
  5. Sign up for surfing lessons (or dancing, singing, etc)
  6. Sing karaoke with all your heart
  7. Perform open mike comedy or The Moth. If there isn't one tonight, schedule one and invite a dozen friends
  8. Email 100 people committing to achieving a lingering goal by a deadline, like hitting a target weight or stopping smoking
  9. Go dancing and be first on the floor
  10. Go out dressed as a rock star
  11. Contact someone you haven't in too long, like someone you fought with and should have made up with long ago or a crush you never acted on
  12. Share a deep secret with someone you care about
  13. For a baker's dozen: Commit to volunteering more time (or other resource) than you have before at a charity you love

I've done most of these things and regret none. I do regret not doing others.