Get Lost: 5 Surprising Benefits From Losing Your Way Now and Again.

At the heart of the human experience is loss. We don’t like to admit it and we do all we can to avoid it but it is always nagging at us. We don’t really like to lose stuff and we don’t like to be lost. But if we are going to actually live then both are inevitable.

To be immersed in the unfamiliar, without our bearings and with no idea how to get back to where we want to be. That is the undercurrent of existence.

Lost Dog

We have a perception that losing things, and getting lost is bad. And sometimes it can be, horrifically so. But not always. And there are always benefits to losing yourself, your bearings, and your direction. When you are lost your senses are heightened. You are more alert, more aware, and more instinctual in how you address the immediate circumstances and environment. You have to put everything else on hold until you have sorted the problem.

Getting lost somewhere or in a situation/project/culture can bring you some perhaps unforeseen unforeseen benefits:

1. It leads to surprises

You are in your own unchartered territory. I am always surprised by what and who there is in the world to discover. I’m not very proactive in going out to explore so getting lost is one of those opportunities.

2. It helps you to discover some of who you are

It’s a bit of a cliche that adversity builds character. But it does. It also SHOWS you your character. How do you deal with being out of your comfort zone? It can be quite humbling and in my experience confronts me with some uncomfortable truths about who I am. It is from here that character is strengthened. Only from a position of self-awareness can you consciously change yourself.

Reflect on your response to feeling lost, alone, or uncomfortable. What did you do? What might have been a better way to deal with it? What will you do next time?

3. It shows us a new landscape

You often take in strange details when you’re lost. You search for clues, familiar elements and helpful identifying features. You see things that people who know the environment might fail to notice. You have a completely fresh perspective on it.

4. It forces us to be creative

It can be difficult to think rationally when you are lost. But it’s important. It is an exercise in using our problem solving capacity and initiative. Feeling lost is one of the starting points of creativity. You might have an end goal (to get home/back to a certain point) but no map, technology or obvious tool for navigating your way there.

5. It can give us the feeling of outsider status

Being/feeling like an outsider from time to time is important because it changes the way you see and treat those who are on the fringes of the groups and places you feel at home. Knowing what it’s like to be stared at, misunderstood, or stand out as different is such a profound experience and one that many people have day after day and are never lucky enough to escape. When you feel lost you can feel like an outsider even if no one can tell.

These are just some ways in which we can turn the otherwise negative experience of being/feeling lost into something we can positively draw from. There is a metaphorical sense of being lost when you endeavour with creative living and working. When there is no roadmap, no right answers, and you’re challenged to be coming up with new and innovative things day in day out then you are lost.


Over to You

Have you ever been badly lost? How did you find your way back again? I would love to hear your answers in the comments.

  1. I am currently studying in Hong Kong and today I was supposed to go for a field trip for my class but I totally got lost and ended up somewhere 3 hours from my University. I was in the bus and it hit me that I was LOST and didn’t know where the bus was going.
    Long story short, I wasn’t able to find my classmates and I just explored the last bus stop area because it did not make sense to go back home when I have come this far. I ended up in Stanley, a beautiful beach town. Full of tourists, small resturants and a floating market. It was such a beautiful afternoon, I was able to ask people around how to get my way back.

    1. Wow, Brenda! That’s such a cool story – if not a little terrifying to be 3 hours away on a bus you didn’t know where was going. Sounds like you made the RIGHT choice, not to panic and to just enjoy where you’d been delivered. That is such an inspiring way of being. So many would have spent the afternoon trying to get back and as you say wouldn’t have made it back in time for anything. Why not spend that time on something beautiful! Thank you for sharing this story. What an inspiration 🙂

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