10 Insane, Life-Affirming, and Cheap Things You Must Do Before You Die
Like the poet William Ross Wallace said, "Every man dies — not every man really lives." So how do you know if you're really living?
Well, you could read up on existentialism or employ a life coach — or you could tackle this bucket list of must-do's that are both frugal and utterly life-changing. (See also: 5 Cheap, Amazing, and Undiscovered Vacation Destinations)
Just reading our round-up of the top 10 is sure to light a fire in your belly.
1. Travel Alone to Someplace You've Never Been
Pull out a map and pick a destination. It doesn't have to be Paris or Dubai, but it could be. The biggest myth about foreign travel is that it's prohibitively expensive. The second biggest myth is that it's dangerous to make the journey on your own. Buses, budget airlines, couchsurfing.org, and hostels catering to backpackers are just a few of the tools that can help you travel on-the-cheap. Guidebooks and common sense will help keep you safe. All you have to do is pick a place.
Now here's the catch: Don't plan an itinerary. That way you'll be wide open for spontaneous, wonderful things to happen. Oh, and about that knot you'll feel in your stomach upon embarking on a trip full of unknowns... That's the whole point! Travel experts say overcoming that feeling and learning to thrive on your own in a strange, new setting is precisely what makes solo travel so rewarding.
2. Climb a Mountain
Research shows that mountain climbing gives people a sense of achievement and boosts their self-worth. It's also downright exhilarating. Rocky peaks, narrow ledges, and burning calf muscles are all part of the experience. And the rewards are oh-so-sweet — an adrenaline high, sweaty mountaintop selfie ops, and stunning panoramic views, to name just a few.
3. Find Your Passion
Life's too short to be spent doing things we don't love. If you haven't found a career or hobby or person worth living for... well, what are you waiting for? Studies show that people who are passionate about their work perform better. And those who have established, loving relationships perform better at their jobs and feel more fulfilled in all aspects of life. So maybe it's time to change up your career. Try out surfing. Learn a new language. Take up woodworking or acting or one of the martial arts. Give online dating a fair shot.
You'll probably always have to take out the trash and mow the lawn, but once you've found your passion you'll find you can do just about any task with a smile. (See also: 5 Simple Ways To Find Your Passion)
4. Watch a Rocket Blast Off Into Outer Space
This here is free and mind-blowing entertainment, folks. Brought to you by NASA, rocket launches can happen as often as twice a month at Kennedy Space Center in Florida and Wallops Flight Facility in Virginia. Watching the future shoot skyward in a cloud of smoke and fire is about the next-best thing to visiting space yourself. Just don't forget your camera.
5. Shower in a Waterfall
6. Play an Epic Game of Bossaball
This game of balance and strategy — a hybrid of volleyball, football, gymnastics, and capoeira — is played on an inflatable court with trampolines. It can be played anywhere, anytime. And despite the unique playing field, set-up only takes about 45 minutes. Oh, yeah. We should probably mention that you'll have about as much fun playing Bossaball as humanly possible. Intrigued? Join a league or organize your own game.
7. Roll Around in a Giant, Inflatable Bubble
If you're not already familiar, a Zorb is a giant, inflatable sphere that you climb inside and ride down hills or across wide open spaces. Why do people go zorbing? Because it's ridiculously fun. Invented in New Zealand in 1995, this gravity-trip has gone international. It's also reasonably priced. A Zorb ride typically costs about $40.
8. See a Volcano
There are about 6,000 volcanos in existence and the Smithsonian has created a user-friendly database of them all for your convenience. Now there should be nothing stopping you from checking out one the most mesmerizing geographic features that link the land we walk on to planet earth's fiery core. Don't be fooled — you can do a lot more than just look at them. You can ski the Cascade Volcanoes in the Pacific Northwest, witness the fiery lava of Hawaii's Kilauea Volcano as it drizzles into the ocean, and scuba dive around the underwater White Island Volcano in New Zealand.
9. Conquer a Fear
Turns out that facing your fears really works. Research shows that people who expose themselves to the thing that unnerves them — be it a gigantic, hairy spider or standing at the edge of a cliff — can actually reduce their fear of that very thing. The results can be truly liberating. So if you're afraid of spiders, go to a zoo that will let you hold one. If it's heights that make you squeamish, go cliff jumping. Life is too short to let irrational fears keep you from living vibrantly. (See also: 9 Techniques That Can Help You Conquer Any Fear)
10. Learn How to Meditate and Practice It Daily
The ancient practice of meditation is proven to make you happier, more focused, and more even-keeled. Researchers say it can even make you nicer. Yet perhaps it's not scientists but Hugh Jackman who best sums up why we all should do it: "Meditation is all about the pursuit of nothingness. It's like the ultimate rest. It's better than the best sleep you've ever had. It's a quieting of the mind. It sharpens everything, especially your appreciation of your surroundings. It keeps life fresh." What a wonderful tool to have at your disposal as you progress on this wonderful, crazy ride we call life.
What have you checked off your life's "Awesome To-Do List"? Please share in comments (and cross "Comment on Wise Bread" off the list!)