If there’s anything I’ve learned in the past few years, it is that to live the life you want, you need to be a little bit crazy. Just a little though. When it comes to craziness the old minimalistic phrase of less is more really works.
Now I’m not suggesting you become insane or push craziness to the point of being unstable. I would never suggest doing anything like that. But when it comes right down to it, some of the most amazing things you can do in life require a little bit of craziness.
My Life, My Craziness
Several years ago, when I was just a few weeks away from a big trip through Southeast Asia, I was at the peak of excitement. I told anyone who would listen about my plans and what I looked forward to doing there. Weirdly though, one of the most frequent comments I received about my plans were about how crazy I was in going there.
I didn’t make much of it at first. But my next big trip to China the following year got similar reactions. And then I started getting that comment again when I told people I wanted to climb a mountain. I heard it so often about so many of my plans that it started to become cliché to me.
But this just made me wonder if I really am that crazy. All I’m trying to do is live life to the fullest. Is that such a crazy thing to do? Perhaps I really am crazy after all.
Amazing Living Begins with Craziness
If you look back on history, you’ll realize just how essential craziness is in order to reach your dreams. Christopher Columbus was notoriously described as being crazy before his historic voyage. Every actor you watch in TV and movies at one point dropped everything in their hometown, moved to LA (or New York) and tried to become famous. That seems really crazy to me. Most artists, writers and explorers are naturally a little bit crazy too.
There are also plenty of modern-day examples. Richard Branson is always doing stunts described as crazy by the press. These stunts include trying to break the world record time for flying around the world in a balloon. Yet he is also the 254th richest person in the world so his craziness is paying off.
The Reason Craziness Works
Imagine you are 100% sane. Would you willingly do something that has a small chance of harming you? You’d probably say no. Unfortunately this means you’d be missing out on some amazing opportunities that require a little bit of risk. All successful artists, writers and actors risked starvation and poverty for their profession, yet that little bit of craziness pushed them to succeed and propelled them out of obscurity.
Without craziness, I might not have gone on those amazing trips. At least that is what was implied by all those people. Because they didn’t have that little bit of craziness to push them, they would not be willing to risk anything to gain any of those unique and rewarding experiences.
Let me put this another way. Would you invest $1 billion dollars into several companies expecting 90% of them to go bankrupt? This sounds like a recipe for disaster and any sane person would easily pass this up. But this is exactly the investment strategy of Vinod Khosla who owns a successful investment firm in Silicon Valley.
Why Being Sane is…Well, Insane
If I didn’t have that little bit of craziness pushing me, I would probably still have a decent life. But I would have missed out on all those adventures I’ve had that have made it a great life. And that would be a shame.
Having the urge to see and do all the things you want to do in life isn’t enough. You need to have that crazy spirit pushing you into risky and frightening areas. Otherwise, you might just miss out on some great life experiences.
Fortunately, I think most people have a little bit of craziness in them. The trouble for some is in accepting that side of them and letting it come out. Too many people suppress their inner desires to reach their dreams because they are concerned about what others might think or they don’t think they “should” do them. I think as long as what you want to do is legal, won’t harm anyone and is what you want to do, you should go for it.
Craziness Taken Too Far
One of the things to keep in mind about this though is about how you need to keep your craziness in check. If it gets too out of hand, you could do some harmful and self-defeating things. Here are some examples.
Remember when I said that actors have this crazy spirit inside them? Well, you can see how some take this too far by just looking at the actions of Tom Cruise and Joaquin Phoenix. These are perfect examples of people going too far. You can see this in the art world too. Vincent Van Gogh cut his own ear off.
But keeping your craziness under check shouldn’t be too difficult as long as you’re careful about it. Even the example about Van Gogh can be explained away because of his recurring mental illness and addiction to absinthe. These examples are meant to caution you, not to deter you.
Even so, I still think being 100% sane leads to a boring and predictable life. Craziness is one of those things you need to push outside your comfort zone and reach your dreams. That’s why whenever people tell me what I’m doing is crazy, I just smile and say, “I know”.
photo credit: stevec77