10 Simple Ways to Feel Alive

  • January 5, 2010 by Corbett Barr
  • 75 Comments

What do rock concerts, making love and exercise all have in common?

I thought about that this weekend after seeing the Melvins play live at the Great American Music Hall in San Francisco. I’ve never really been into the Melvins, but my sister’s boyfriend is a big fan. Three out of four of us went to the show not really knowing what we were going to see.


Even after seeing them live, I still wouldn’t consider myself a fan. “Sludge metal” just isn’t my genre I guess (and my wife likes the hard stuff even less). But still, all four of us had a fantastic time. Why is that?

Rock concerts are just one of those things that make you feel alive. I’m usually left wondering why I don’t attend them more often. There’s something invigorating about feeling a crowd of people enchanted by live music, no matter the genre.

That’s what rock concerts have in common with having sex and getting exercise. They make us feel alive, and they make us wonder why we don’t do them more often.

Those three things aren’t the only simple and inexpensive ways to feel alive, either. You’ll find 10 of my favorite things you can do to feel a rush of life without spending a lot of time or money below. It’s the simple things in life, you know?

What would be on your list? Let me know in the comments!

  1. Get close to nature
    Hiking, camping and anything else that gets you out of the concrete jungle for a while is a fantastic way to clear your head and remember you’re part of a living planet. For bonus points, go backpacking and spend the night without any electricity or modern conveniences.

  2. Start a workout routine
    It doesn’t take long to start to feel the high from a regular workout routine. It doesn’t have to be anything specific (jogging, weights, spin or yoga are all good candidates), just work out regularly.

  3. Get it on
    Make love, have sex, do it, whatever you want to call it. What makes us feel more alive than the act that creates life itself?

  4. Spend a day at the beach
    The sun, the surf, the sand and the sound of waves crashing always stimulate my senses and get the blood flowing. Better yet, play some volleyball or frisbee, go for a jog or do some surfing while you’re there.

  5. Get jiggy with it
    OK, dancing may not be for everyone (I have friends who would rather take a poke in the eye from a hot stick), but if you’re inclined to dance it’s a great way to feel good.

  6. Travel somewhere new and “dangerous”
    It doesn’t really have to be dangerous, but traveling somewhere out of your comfort zone will definitely make you feel alive.

  7. Go skiing or snowboarding
    The cold elements, reflected sunshine and speed all add up to a pulse-quickening afternoon on the mountain. A burger and brew never tasted better than after a day of skiing or snowboarding.

  8. Attend a rock concert
    Like I said in the opening, a mass of people and loud music have a way of inspiring you.

  9. Go for a swim
    Preferably in the ocean. There’s something about giving in to the sheer power of water that puts everything in perspective.

  10. Play an organized sport
    Basketball, soccer, softball, whatever the sport, doing something organized with a team is a life-affirming experience.

What makes you feel alive? Please share!

photo by crazyluca69

Written by . Corbett is cofounder of Fizzle, a place for creative entrepreneurs, writers, makers, coders and artists, all working to support themselves doing what they love independently on the Internet. Follow Corbett on on Twitter.


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Dave - LifeExcursion January 5, 2010 at 12:14 am

A common theme in each of these Corbett is being active. I can’t stress that enough. Being sedentary not only leads to health issues, but happiness issues.

One I would like to add that isn’t active is sitting in a serene, peaceful, quiet place and listening to your body. I love doing this every once in a while because it gets me honed into the power of life and the human body.

I completely agree with #6….in fact (self-satisfying plug coming right…now) http://lifeexcursion.com/index.php/20-reasons-why-you-need-to-travel-starting-now/

David Damron
LifeExcursion

Corbett Barr January 5, 2010 at 12:20 am

Ah, good one Dave. Getting some quiet time alone with yourself to listen to your body is a great way to find your center and reconnect with life. Cheers.

Tanner @LifeDestiny January 5, 2010 at 2:30 am

I agree with 2,3,4,6,8, and 10.

Your right about rock concerts, Corbett. The rare times I do go to them, I leave feeling full of energy and wondering why I dont go to more. I then start thinking to myself I am going to attend every rock concert within 200 miles of me lol. Never works out.

I would also add riding a motorcycle, surfing, and skydiving!

Corbett Barr January 5, 2010 at 10:17 am

Are you an adrenaline junkie, Tanner? Skydiving and motorcycles aren’t for the feint of heart. I’ve never been skydiving, but I hear it’s a rush like none other.

Joan Raskiewicz January 5, 2010 at 3:41 am

What a great reminder for the new year. I love hiking and biking. There’s nothing like the quite and beauty of nature. I always feel more relaxed and focused afterwards.

Corbett Barr January 5, 2010 at 10:18 am

Ah, biking is a good one that I forgot. Especially when it’s somewhere serene or inspiring. Although fighting city traffic on a bicycle will definitely make you feel alive.

Miche - Serenity Hacker January 5, 2010 at 5:25 am

Hi Corbett,

I agree with David’s assessment of the active sort of component in your list. I started thinking about the questions and most of my answers were right there on it! There’s something about that active energy that really gets our “alive” juices flowing! I think being in a situation where you meet new people is another. Also, connecting deeply with someone on an emotional level, whether that means falling in love or comforting a friend in need, is another.

Cheers,
Miche :)

Corbett Barr January 5, 2010 at 10:20 am

Yes, looking back on it, my list didn’t really imply doing many of the things with friends, but I usually find that involving friends only makes an experience even better.

David January 5, 2010 at 5:40 am

At my gym, we noticed that of all the new people who come through the door, the ones who tend to stick around are the ones who dance (usually poorly). Why there should be a correlation between sticking to fitness routines and dancing to “Teenage Dirtbag” between sets is a mystery, but perhaps it has something to do with enjoying life and feeling alive.

Corbett Barr January 5, 2010 at 10:21 am

That’s a really great observation, David! I wonder if there is some way to use that phenomena to help other people stick with it?

DTravelsRound January 5, 2010 at 6:03 am

I LOVE this post and agree with your list. I never feel more alive than when I travel. There is something so invigorating about stepping outside of your normal life to experience something different. Throughout my trips, I have always pushed myself to “live” a little more (and I threw in some of your other simple ways to feel alive into the travel mix). My last trip actually inspired me to such an extent I started a blog about traveling and its power to make you feel more alive. http://www.DTravelsRound.com
Thanks for the great post!
D

Corbett Barr January 5, 2010 at 10:23 am

Cool, D. Thanks for sharing. Best of luck with the new blog! One quick tip for you, create a photo at gravatar.com so we can put a face to your comments. People will be much more likely to check out your blog that way.

Rasheed Hooda January 5, 2010 at 6:08 am

Great list, Corbett.

Though I wouldn’t call attending a rock concert exactly an inexpensive way to do it. I love the rush of a live concert, but it is getting rediculously more and more expensive.

The one that I would like to add is to have some family or social time together playing games such as Bridge or Monopoly or some other such activity.

I agree with Dave, spending quiet time is an awesome way to get centered and come alive.

Rasheed

Corbett Barr January 5, 2010 at 10:24 am

You’re right, some rock concerts are getting crazy expensive these days. Although there are plenty to be seen for under $30 (the one I attended this weekend was $21).

Ross Collicutt January 5, 2010 at 6:22 am

I especially like the first three. I’m never one to be stuck inside when I don’t need to be, even in rainy BC. The trick is to stay active every single day and not get lazy and decide TV is the better choice!

Corbett Barr January 5, 2010 at 10:25 am

I applaud you for getting out in rainy BC in the winter. It’s not easy (I used to live in Seattle and Portland). The darkness and rain have a way of keeping you locked indoors.

Dave Yankowiak January 5, 2010 at 6:37 am

First of all, #3 is crucial. :)

Second, I’ve incorporated #4 into my work schedule (except in the winter here in MN – brrr!) – http://www.anywhereman.com/2009/08/get-out-of-there/

Of course, when it’s -20 degrees outside like it’s been here the past few days, even a brisk walk outside makes you feel alive and happy to be back indoors working.

Corbett Barr January 5, 2010 at 10:45 am

That’s a great idea, Dave. Getting outside during the day definitely makes me more creative.

Jenny January 5, 2010 at 6:45 am

After seeing Lady Gaga a couple days ago, I definitely agree with #8. Great post!

Corbett Barr January 5, 2010 at 10:51 am

Thanks, Jenny. I read your post, by the way, and I agree that Gaga gets it. My wife would be so jealous of your free ticket!

Colin Wright January 5, 2010 at 6:55 am

I love being exposed to completely unfamiliar things…the rush of adrenaline that comes form not knowing exactly what will happen next and being unsure as to whether you’ll have to knowledge/strength/gusto to get yourself back to familiar territory is like candy for the brain. Sweet, sweet candy.

Corbett Barr January 5, 2010 at 10:53 am

Like moving to new countries (Argentina and New Zealand come to mind), right? When do you move next anyways?

Loewen Behold January 5, 2010 at 6:58 am

I know its simple, but that’s what is all about, eight? Sun Salutations (Surya Namaskara) in the morning, especially when done outside facing the sun as it comes up. Starting the day this way not only makes me feel alive, but grateful to be so.

Karen January 5, 2010 at 7:02 am

Great starting list, Corbett.

I’m with Rasheed. When I’m with other people, I feel energized and alive. Being with people, learning with them, laughing with them, loving them, sharing with them – it’s all about people :-)

Of course, if you’re an introvert, you might get drained of your energy, but you can limit your exposure.

I also think that there’s a big difference between feeling alive and being energized. I can really feel alive the moment before I bungie-jump as I’m staring possible death in the face. Do I want that feeling all the time? No. I can also be really energized knowing that I have a deadline to write an article. You need to have a good balance otherwise you will wear yourself out :-)

Corbett Barr January 5, 2010 at 10:55 am

You’re right, Karen. Balance is important, and that’s probably why we don’t do some of the things I mentioned very often. It would lessen the experience if we did certain things every day.

Alan January 5, 2010 at 8:00 am

Nice list. I’m a huge fan of #1 – I always feel most alive in the mountains.

Another addition: producing something. Art, music, a business project, etc. I always feel invigorated after having given something back to the world.

Corbett Barr January 5, 2010 at 10:57 am

Good addition, Alan. I always feel great after getting a blog post written.

Amber January 5, 2010 at 8:07 am

Ahh nice list! I feel the most alive when I’m shaking it on the dance floor and lounging or powerwalking the beach. Playing in the waves can’t be beat either. I also adore throwing myself into new and challenging situations and adventures. Being in nature is a necessity!

Corbett Barr January 5, 2010 at 10:57 am

Cheers, Amber.

Liz January 5, 2010 at 8:41 am

I never feel more alive than when I’m hiking in the woods. Camping near a stream or a beach is a most healing experience. If there’s a full moon at night that’s the ultimate bliss. Some good advice here.

The day I see a leaf is a marvel of a day.
Kenneth Patton

Corbett Barr January 5, 2010 at 11:02 am

Great quote!

Josh May 4, 2010 at 10:38 am

I completely agree.

Farnoosh Brock January 5, 2010 at 9:31 am

What makes me feel alive are my carefully chosen passions, which are also the reason I blog: YOGA, Argentine Tango, traveling very far and way too much, buying beautiful high-quality things, switching to a Mac, going whale watching in Hawaii, hitting the craps tables at Vegas, eating raw foods and drinking my tea, tending to my plants, spending time with my friends laughing and loving life, being in the Louvre in the presence of thousands of works of art, reading amazing classics, reading voraciously, and connecting with the world around me! (Is that list too long???)

Corbett Barr January 5, 2010 at 11:04 am

You make me feel like I should have started the list with 100 things instead of 10! Great additions. I especially like whale watching in Hawaii and being in the Louvre.

Derek January 5, 2010 at 10:19 am

If you can combine 3 (get it on), 4 (beach), & 6 (exotic location) …that’s absolute perfection.

Corbett Barr January 5, 2010 at 11:15 am

You get extra points for combining items, Derek. Even better reading it with your Twitter suggestion to use a British accent!

Fabian | The Friendly Anarchist January 5, 2010 at 10:36 am

I’m with Alan: Producing stuff just feels great! Also, meet an old friend and have some beers at whatever place you stumble upon… as I will, tonight! :)

Damon January 5, 2010 at 11:57 am

Working with kids. Their youthful energy is invigorating.

Coaching a Special Olympics team. I once felt like I won the World Cup when our most disabled player scored a goal. He immediately turned to his father smiling in disbelief like he was the recipient of some miracle. His dad standing next to me, jumping up and down, pumping his fists in the air, choked up and yelling, “I’ve been waiting for that his whole life” (in a – I want my son to feel good about himself and his abilities – kind of way).

Public speaking – when you’re not to familiar with your topic – really makes the senses come alive.

Sitting with my wife. Nothing to do. Nowhere to be. In silence. Sometimes things are good. Sometimes they are hard. Just knowing that she is there…yeah, I feel alive then.

Surfing (on the same board) with my son. First – it’s surfing. It’s not like having a catch. We are both sharing the same exhilarating experience and there is the closeness of sharing the same board. Holding my hand out to my then 4-year-old, watching him struggle to get up, the grin on his face when he does, and hearing him say, “Dad, that was the best!” after we kick out. Makes me think of Peter Gabriel’s lyrics:

Remember the breakwaters down by the waves
I first found my courage
Knowing daddy could save
I could hold back the tide
With my dad by my side

…Of course, it’s a far greater experience for us fathers than our children.

Having to utilize all of your faculties to help someone overcome an obstacle…and sitting with their pain when they frequently don’t. (How do you know your alive? The pain you feel, right?)

If you really want a cost saving technique try losing a job/income – the sense of “aliveness” is quite great after the initial feelings of heartache and despair.

Corbett Barr January 5, 2010 at 12:49 pm

Great stuff, Damon. Thanks for sharing a parent’s perspective. My wife teaches art to kids and definitely finds it rewarding.

Nate January 5, 2010 at 12:20 pm

All great ideas. My favorite thing to do to bring myself to life is go for a hike. The combination of strenuous exercise (I like tough hikes) and the beautiful views get me really pumped. And overnight hiking trip that involves camping is even better! So yup, my favorite on this list of yours is getting close to nature. Maybe I should hit up a concert sometime soon? That sounds fun.

Corbett Barr January 5, 2010 at 12:50 pm

Or maybe a concert in Nature? People tell me that Red Rocks is an amazing place to see a show. There’s also the Gorge in Washington.

Luke January 5, 2010 at 1:16 pm

Great post! One of my readers sent me over here because my blog is about live music and is called It’s Great To Be Alive. I’m with you on concerts making you feel alive. My new year resolution, as always, is to see more shows.

Cool blog you have here and the design looks nice too.

Cheers to feeling positively alive in 2010!

Luke

Corbett Barr January 5, 2010 at 4:09 pm

Cheers, Luke. It’s nice to meet you. Have you seen any standout shows lately?

RJ Weiss January 5, 2010 at 1:18 pm

Big fan of # 3. :)

One thing I inserted into my goals this year was to go one at least one long hike a month. Looking back to times I felt most alive in my past, a lot of it has to do with being in nature. I wanted to bring more of this into my life.

Thanks for the post.

Earl January 5, 2010 at 3:15 pm

It’s all about #6 for me. Just that first moment of arriving in a foreign place and realizing that there’s no turning back. You are forced to summon up all of your strength and take that fi rst step into the unknown and unfamiliar without having any idea of what lies ahead. That is feeling alive to me!

Corbett Barr January 5, 2010 at 4:17 pm

Well said!

Betsy Talbot January 5, 2010 at 3:48 pm

I agree with Alan that creative pursuits make you feel alive. Last year I did the 3-day novel challenge over Labor Day, and while it was incredibly exhausting and challenging, I felt on top of the world for a week after I finished (though I could have still been floating on the caffeine it took me to finish – who knows?).

A good friend of mine lives a deeply creative life – she is always painting or making things. She calls them “art projects” like she is in grade school or something – and she is one of the happiest, most joyful people I know.

Like most in the list above I’m also all about travel – we’re leaving October 1 for some long-term travel and I can hardly wait!

Corbett Barr January 5, 2010 at 4:19 pm

Where are you headed, Betsy? Long-term travel is a magical experience in my book.

Colin Hiles ~ Midlife Maverick January 6, 2010 at 2:39 am

Ahh, this is an easy one for me.

That beautiful feeling of aliveness pops every cell in my body when I hit the surf on my long board and get to ride the ocean. I always come out of the sea feeling better than when I went in. Smile on!

Brian Lagoni January 6, 2010 at 10:21 am

Honestly I would feel a little more alive if this post was just a tad more original. But now I’m here anyway…

Skiing is my thing. Knee deep powder and I’m in heaven.

Corbett Barr January 6, 2010 at 10:31 am

Sometimes the simple posts are the ones that get people talking, Brian. Thanks for the contribution.

Don January 7, 2010 at 2:12 pm

Breathing makes me feel alive if I think about it. Low bar!

Maya October 12, 2010 at 7:16 pm

Definitely an important part of being alive!

Steven Ponec January 8, 2010 at 2:50 am

I’d add a couple suggestions:
1. Read a book that is what you don’t normally read. Let it push you out of your comfort zone.
2. Watch a movie that’s totally different than what you’ve ever seen before. For me that was The Brothers Bloom or, tonight, I Heart Huckabees

Greg Zummo January 9, 2010 at 9:31 am

For me, one of the best ways to feel alive is to go fly fishing. Ponds and lakes are great for this, but the ultimate is wading in a stream or river to fish. The combination of the power of the water pressing on your body, the sounds of the water and the bass rumbling of shifting gravel and rocks under your feet, and the feel and scent of the water seem to connect me more to the world.

Erica Verner January 28, 2010 at 12:18 pm

MUSIC! MUSIC! MUSIC!
I couldn’t agree more with music making a person feel alive – especially playing an instrument. I am no musician and haven’t been playing for long, but I have a drum set and I love banging around on those things! It really makes you feel alive.
But concerts and live music completely overtake me and consume my soul. It’s such a beautiful feeling.
Thanks for writing this. :-)

Andy Parker October 31, 2010 at 7:00 am

I couldn’t agree more with the above article. Personally, escaping to the mountains makes me feel alive. There’s no better feeling than being 2 days away from anyone one else in the world and breathing in the fresh mountain air at 6000m. Thanks for this!

R. Ferrell March 8, 2012 at 2:06 pm

I practice muay thai.. This makes me feel very alive, especially if I can walk away feeling like I learned something. I’m not the bravado type so this keeps my ego in check since I’m always practicing with people who are stronger, faster or more experienced than I am. It’s also great exercise and helps with focus. The ROI is huge for me.

Birgit July 16, 2012 at 8:00 am

sharing skills or knowledge makes me feel alive (yoga, german language, massage, how to eat healthy, what the body needs when inflammations are present, how synthetic carpet is bad for the planet and linoleum a much longer lasting and natural replacement and should be first choice).. I feel alive when I feel heard. Even more alive when I am asked to share rather than offering to share, then I really feel what I have to offer is valued. That’s the best!.

AJ December 4, 2012 at 6:21 pm

Guess I’m a bit late to the party here but still… I do/ am doing/ have done pretty much all on the list. I moved to a “dangerous” country (I’m irish and i live in Mexico) a year and a half ago. I went camping all over Mexico. I play an organized sport (rugby), I work out in the gym, jog on the beach. I have a girlfriend so I have it off a lot too! Recently I bought a wetsuit and started surfing. I dance (or try to) regularly. I swim in a pool or the beach and i go to concerts frequently. But still, something’s missing…. I think maybe I need to move again, get out of my comfort zone. Interesting list nonetheless.

Martin March 23, 2013 at 12:41 pm

Perform. A good performance (and the return blast from the audience) is larger than life, better than sex, better than coke.

Tanner @LifeDestiny January 5, 2010 at 12:07 pm

Somewhat am. It is an experience you’ll definitely won’t forget, that is if you land. I hope to get my skydiving certification someday.

Jenny January 6, 2010 at 5:59 am

Thanks for checking it out Corbett! I’m jealous of myself for that lucky break, haha. I did give the ticket holder $50 just out of pure guilt though.

Joan Raskiewicz January 6, 2010 at 6:53 am

I think fighting the city traffic will be too nerve racking for me! I’ll stick to the forest trails. lol

Luke January 6, 2010 at 8:03 am

Derek Trucks Band at The Park West in Chicago was the best show I saw last year. He is amazing on the guitar. Too bad his band is taking a hiatus this year though.

Betsy Talbot January 6, 2010 at 11:38 am

Hi, Corbett. We’re starting in Ecuador with a general plan to stay in South America for 6 months or so before moving on to Africa. But who knows? The best part about this trip is knowing it could go anywhere at any time. Like you said – magical!

Cody McKibben January 6, 2010 at 1:23 pm

Hahaha! Thanks for this list Corbett! Good, thoughtful stuff man. I’ve done 2 of these things this week, plan on doing 3 of them this weekend, and 9 of them this year. And no, I’m not telling which ones! Although I like the way Derek’s thinking…

Farnoosh Brock January 6, 2010 at 1:37 pm

Well, I had some forethought into it. I did my list of 100 lessons of life and blogging not too long ago for my 100th blog post :) …..in other words, thank you and great stuff…..

Maya October 12, 2010 at 7:13 pm

Betsy,

That sounds so much fun. I always wanted to do long term trips like that how do you make it possible?

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