What Does It Mean to "Feel Alive"? The Glorification of the Adrenaline Rush

Photo by Andrew Pons on Unsplash

I was at a party recently where a handful of the attendees were motocross aficionados.

One of the truly die-hards was talking about how he needed to spend as much time as possible at the track because he wanted to "feel alive."

*Gag*

He went on to say that most people weren't really living - that they were dead inside - and he wanted to make sure to "fully embrace life."

I said to him, "Wait a minute, just because someone doesn't do motocross doesn't mean they're not living. Everyone has a different definition of what it means to feel alive."

He conceded my point, clearly without really believing it.

The next day, when I thought back to that conversation, I realized the other thing that bothered me about his statement: the fact that he seemed to be confusing  "feeling alive" with "adrenaline rush."

Photo by Drew Darby on Unsplash

Yes, an adrenaline rush can and does make you feel "alive."

But living with that as a definition for aliveness is precipitous prospect.

If your definition of "feeling alive" only includes "adrenaline rush" you're going to spend your life chasing highs in whatever form you can find them.

Social media fuels this idea; we compare our seemingly mundane lives with the highlights reel people post of their adventures and we feel like we're failing somehow.

We feel empty because of how we think it's supposed to be - EXCITING - and it's not. We feel like we're failing at life if every moment isn't a ball of wonderment.

We may end up bingeing - on food, alcohol, or other substances - because we think something's wrong when we're not high on life ALL THE TIME.

So we find ways to either numb or distract from the feeling of not enough-ness.

Our society has confused "living" or "feeling alive" with "excitement" but the reality is that life is often mundane; it's made up of the small moments.

Look back on the past year, as an example. How many BIG moments were there really? You know, trips, job changes, engagements, etc.

Maybe a handful, if it was a particularly eventful year?

Before enlightenment, chop wood, carry water.
After enlightenment, chop wood carry water.

Photo by Jason Abdilla on Unsplash

To think that the mundane tasks of daily living are what get in the way of living, of being fully "alive" - and as a consequence to resist them - is to misunderstand life.

Life is about how we approach our daily tasks; we can choose to feel fully alive in the midst of the mundane, or not.

How to do that?

By not taking the things we have for granted.

SOMETHING ACTIONABLE - Stop looking at social media; it leads to comparison and only emphasizes that feeling of "unless my life is a non-stop adrenaline rush, I am failing at living." Stop it completely, or only follow accounts that don't include adrenaline porn.

SOMETHING ACTIONABLE - Gratitude. Gratitude is the opposite of entitlement. Gratitude helps you notice the small moments, and small daily blessings; getting a parking space, a kind gesture by a friend, your favourite snack is in stock (and on sale) again. If that sounds trite to you, check your entitlement.



Many people confuse "feeling alive" with "adrenaline rush" but they're not the same thing at all.

Your definition of alive and mine might not be the same; but as long as you're living everyday, really living and noticing and taking in the moments, then you ARE living, you ARE alive.

Photo by Stephanie Greene on Unsplash 

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