YouTube praises

I consume a lot of information everyday. An increasing amount of that information is coming via video. Most often, I'm consuming information to give myself a greater understanding of the universe, whether astronomy, particle physics, psychology, history, or so much more. However, I think levity brings light to life, so I also enjoy quite a bit of comedy as well.

As much as I enjoy my consumption of edutainment (yes, you read that correctly), this blog article has a very specific purpose: Recently, I've found myself glued to some very specific YouTube channels and websites. I want to share them with you. Please note, I'm not trying to rank these channels, I just want to share those that stand out in my mind at the moment.

First of all, I have to mention Hank and John Green. I can't get enough of their many entertaining and educational YouTube channels. I recommend starting with this one: http://www.youtube.com/user/vlogbrothers
Next, Destin gets some serious excitement from me with his channel Smarter Every Day
There are SO many more educational YouTube channels that I find amazing (e.g. Vsauce, veritasium, CGPGrey, minutephysics, DNews, PBSIdeaChannel, etc.), but I'll be sure to include a list directly to my subscriptions so you can dig around for yourself.
(Michael, Trace, Lacey, Anthony, Mike, and anyone else reading this from those channels... I find every one of your channels fascinating and hope my link to my subscriptions leads more viewers to you as well. Hank, John, and Destin were the ones responsible for leading me to you, so I thought I should mention them individually.)

As wonderful as the educational channels are, I have a few mostly-entertainment channels that I enjoy as well.
The Slow Mo Guys immediately come to mind. I have devoured every one of their videos and always look forward to more. (In fact, when Destin took a high-speed camera to Peru, I recognized the manufacturer and specs of the camera thanks to SloMoGuys Dan and Gav. Furthermore, I actually think it was Dan and Gav who eventually lead me to Destin's channel.)
Now, there is one comedic YouTube channel that stands out among the many others I view: Arturo Trejo's channel. I'd say more about it, but I think it's more fun to just go see for yourself.
Be sure to also check out the other comedy channels I subscribe to, such as Bad Lip Reading and Simon's Cat.

I find myself also enjoying a subset of entertainment videos, those having to do with entertainment reviews/commentary. At the top of my list is The Blind Film Critic, I think Tommy Edison does a noteworthy job of blending humor and his unique perspective on film.
There's also one of my long-time favorite channels by Adam Mader, which presents fun reviews of gaming as seen through the dillema of whether you should "Rent or Buy".

Now, after all of that praise to the educational and entertainment YouTube channels I enjoy, it's time to rave about the one specific channel that has excited me enough recently to make me want to write this article in the first place....
I often write about or mention the outdoor experiences in life which I crave. EpicTV definitely suits my adventurous side and has somehow managed to quell some of that craving, even when I'm staring at a computer screen. Admittedly, it can also be problematic.... I feel like a kid in a candy store as I watch ALL of the thrills I love unfold on-screen; I know that no matter how much I might want to do all of those things right now, I have to pace myself and enjoy what I can as I can.
Link to my YouTube channel subscriptions: http://www.youtube.com/user/IndianaTHart/about
Sometimes it can be overwhelming to see all of the videos stacked up in my feed, but as I start my way through them I'm reminded of why I put them there in the first place: the universe is so full of such wonder, beauty, and adventure. I feel privileged for the opportunities that I have had to enjoy some of it and I am grateful to my friends, family, and the many internet people listed above. All of you in my life, literally and digitally, sharing your adventures and knowledge with me, you inspire my passion and motivate me to seek adventure everyday.


Experience the challenge

I sometimes hear people remark at some of my adventures saying, "I could never do that." However, it's said that one person's heaven is another person's hell. I think every individual faces different challenges throughout life, as unique as the individual encountering them. In fact, we frequently see that not everyone considers the same things a "challenge". Afterall, what is a "challenge" really?

The word challenge carries many connotations. It could mean a call to action, a defiant stance, or even an expressed disagreement. However, there is another definition of the word "challenge" which stands out among the rest:
challenge - A test of one's abilities or resources in a demanding but stimulating undertaking.
That definition1 reveals the internal struggle faced during a "challenge", whereas the others address only the external conflict. I think every challenge contains a component of that internal struggle, demanding some greater effort than is natural.

I once heard a climbing instructor illustrate the concept of challenge in a unique way. He drew two large concentric circles on the ground. Standing at the center of the circles, he explained that within the smaller circle was the "comfort zone"; a mind-set in which we feel safe and relaxed. He then stepped out of the smaller circle and into the next larger one. He pointed to the line of the outer circle and said that it represented the limits of safety, beyond that outer circle was the "danger zone". He then pointed to where he stood, within that outer circle, advising that he wanted the climbers mind-sets to stay there that day: outside their comfort zone, but within the realm of safety.

His demonstration touches on concepts studied in behavioral psychology. The "comfort zone" being a state in which a person is "anxiety-neutral". The "danger zone" being a state in which a person is reckless, where they are certain to injure themselves physically, mentally, or emotionally. It should be noted that dwelling, for a time, in the area between the two can be surprisingly advantageous.

In performance management studies, the zone between comfort and danger is called the "optimal performance zone". Beyond the comfort zone, the body's natural stress response enables a heightened level of concentration and focus. If the stress level is too high, a person has entered the danger zone and performance worsens and judgement is impaired. "The objective of the trainer or manager is to cause the person to enter the optimum performance zone for a sufficient period of time so that new skills and performance can be achieved and become embedded."2

So, a challenge can be sighted as anything which triggers a "stress response". Many people, such as myself, love the adrenaline rush of something new and exciting which pushes the body's physical limits. However, I don't consider those experiences my challenges. You see, I don't fear those experiences, I crave them and find comfort in them. Climbing a mountain, jumping out of a plane, camping in subzero weather; I find those experiences calming and familiar. I don't feel tested by them, I feel at ease. I've come to recognize that my challenges are internal.

The struggles I face come from within. Maintaining a healthy life-balance, cultivating friendships (not just acquaintanceship), silencing my self-doubt, and trusting the support of others when I feel vulnerable. It's extremely difficult for me to even list some of those points. For some, my challenges might seem small and simple, but the stress is very real for me and the fear can be undeniable. The good news is that I recognize that those struggles as my challenges.

For some time now, as has been noted in other articles, I have been focusing my energy on stepping out of my comfort zone and experiencing the challenges I encounter within. To be honest, it has not been an easy process. Were it easy, it would mean that I wasn't in that "optimal performance zone" of personal change and internal balance. So, when someone comments with amazement on something I do, I thank them and take a moment to compliment them on the things they do which I admire and find challenging.

We each have things which test our abilities and push us beyond the limits of our comfort. What I find comfortable may be unnerving for others. When I sense myself internally leaving my comfort zone, I consciously make an effort to evaluate what is triggering my stress and work through my fear. Regularly recognizing my challenges and stepping out of my comfort zone has become a significant "centering" exercise. It is also important to know and become with familiar with the limits of your zones.

During a avalanche awareness and training course, my instructor warned us that "problems occur when desire overcomes discretion". He was referring to the reduction in clear thinking when we become too focused on a specific goal or reward. We begin to ignore warning signs that we would otherwise recognize, if we kept a clear head. That's a serious problem, especially in life-threatening situation; that is when we have entered the danger zone. It's important to carefully evaluate the limits of a situation and define where the optimal performance zone ends and the danger zone begins.

While it's true that life is not measured by the breaths you take but by the moments that take your breath away, it's equally paramount to find a balance that allows you to keep breathing. Become aware of your challenges, embrace them as an opportunity to improve. Admire the heroes who find comfort facing the things you find difficult, show gratitude and offer encouragement to those who fear what you face. Remember, every person is a hero for facing the challenges they encounter in life.

1 Challenge - The Free Dictionary
2 "Comfort Zone" - Wikipedia