While I generally write my columns with some sort of research to back my opinion, I’m going to try something new this week because that’s what it’s all about.
Lately I’ve found myself in a few unfamiliar and, sometimes, uncomfortable situations. But nonetheless, they are situations and experiences that I learn from, grow because of and further learn about what I enjoy and what I don’t.
The old saying, “you can’t knock it until you try it” rings true to many experiences.
Opening ourselves to new ideas, activities and choices helps us define our likes and dislikes. Novel experiences help us discover more about ourselves and the people and world that surround us.
If I was told a few months ago that I’d find myself suited up in protective padding and strapped into roller skates as I took the chance at roller derby, I would have looked at you puzzled. If you told me weeks ago that I’d be walking through a field of knee-tall grass in search of prey (aka pesky gophers) I would have debated. Sure I fell a few times during my first roller skate trial and took pity on the gophers being blown to pieces, but both endeavours were new and unfamiliar. While I won’t be hunting down the little creatures any time soon, I’ll surely be back on the skates. That’s the thing about trying something new- love it or hate it you have the memory and the experience.
New experiences may be scary or intimidating at first, but the payoff and satisfaction that you receive from overcoming a fear, learning a new skill or accomplishing something you never thought you would, gives you a little confidence and forces you to grow.
It’s not even the big changes you need to make or big chances you need to take- just little tweaks to your daily routine of eat, sleep and work.
How many different types of music are there? How many different types of dance? How many different types of food? How many different languages?
Break out of your comfort zone and try something new whether it’s food, culture, career, activity, or a new way of thinking.
Turn the familiar into the unfamiliar.
Inject a little bit of adventure into your day. Open yourself to more possibilities and more opportunities. What’s the worst that can happen? You’ll spend money on a hair colour that isn’t just the right tone? The food you ordered won’t “hit the spot”? You’ll embarrass yourself by tripping or falling over your feet? Chalk it up to experience.
We don’t do ourselves any good by limiting ourselves for fear of the unknown. New experiences and unfamiliar territory help us grow and define who we are. We become more well- rounded, more ‘worldly’ people.
Psychologist Rich Walker of Winston-Salem State University looked at 30,000 event memories and over 500 diaries, ranging from durations of three months to four years, and concluded that people who engage in a variety of experiences are more likely to retain positive emotions and minimize negative ones than people who have fewer experiences.
Old habits die hard. Routine is often difficult to disregard or overcome, so start with little changes; turn on rock music if you’re more of a country fan; order fish instead of chicken; take a different route to work; pick up a paintbrush or kick around a ball.
When was the last time you learned something for the simple pleasure of learning it? When was the last time you tried something new “just because”?
Take the plunge. Love it or hate it, you’ll learn from it. You will experience it.
“If you keep on doing what you’ve always done, you’ll keep on getting what you’ve always got,” said W.L. Bateman.