“Only those who will risk going too far can possibly find out how far one can go.” — T.S. Elliot
Adding new experiences to your life is the best way to stay fully engaged, energized, and enthusiastic.
Otherwise you burn out from boredom.
Your routines and monotony will eat your soul.
When you shake things up, you active your brain, and you reengage with your life. And that’s how you live.
Seek Novelty and Challenge to Be Happier in Life
Science says our brains seek change. Novelty and challenge are the keys to help you break out of routines and ruts, and to create a sense of energy and enthusiasm.
“After peering into thousands of people’s brains with advanced imaging machines such as the MRI, neuroscientists have concluded that the brain is hardwired to seek and enjoy novelty and challenge.
Remember those two ingredients: novelty and challenge.
You can have all the right fixing for an incredible life–love, respect, abundance, and so on–but without those two ingredients your recipe ends up as a bland soup of sadness and disengagement.”
An engaged brain is a happy one. When you try new things, you give your brain a chance to come alive and get back in the game.
Your brain loves “let’s figure this out” mode when you give it a chance.
Your brain becomes much more activated when something novel or challenging occurs. Novel things make your mind snap to attention and become sharp, releasing dopamine and energizing your brain to go into ‘let’s figure this out’ mode. It’s what motivates us to learn. If that novelty also challenges us then our brains stay engaged for even longer. And an engaged brain is a happy brain.
1. The Ninety-Day Getaway
Take a trip, once every three months (once a quarter in corporate warrior terms).
Every ninety days, plan a getaway either by yourself or with our spouse or significant other. Yes, every ninety days. This doesn’t have to be a trip around the world–the goal isn’t how far you travel; it’s how far you get away, the difference being measured not in the miles you travel, but in how far mentally you break the monotony of routine in order to relax and rejuvenate.
2. The Restaurant or Dining Tour
Date night is a great night to try some new places to eat. If you don’t have a date night, maybe that’s your starting point.
Make your date nights an excursion to a new restaurant once a week. If you’re in a small town, get a group of friends to host dinner every few weeks. The goal is to get about town and experience new dining experiences.
3. Shows, Sporting Events, Experiences
There is always something going on. And something amazing might be happening right in your own backyard.
I am constantly surprised when I find out who’s in town, or what shows are playing, or what fun things there are to do, either in the local neighborhood or a hop-skip-and a jump away.
It’s a reminder that I really need to map out and pay attention to local area events.
What’s happening in your city this weekend? Are there shows or performances you can go see? Any new exhibits or exhibitions? Despite the fact that many of us love going to the movies, sporting events, or the theater, most of us rarely do. Make it a habit to be on the lookout for things you can go see and cheer for.
4. Travel Adventures
Traveling is a great way to explore new places and try new things. The most interesting thing to me is how some places don’t feel like any other places on the planet.
Do you have a list of the top-fifty destinations you want to go in your life? Are you actively checking them off the list, at least once per year? If not, get to it. Traveling is one of the surest ways to introduce novelty, engagement, and excitement in your life.
5. Expanding Your Peer Circle
Long ago a friend of mine gave me a new metaphor for people. He said that I had looked at the people in my life in a static way. More like a lake. He said I needed to take a river view, and keep in mind that people are constantly flowing into and out of our lives.
A little habit I adopted at work is to challenge myself to regularly meet new people and expand my worlds. And I find new people bring new energy, and I feed off that.
It’s funny how ‘making friends’ is so important to us when we’re young, but we lay off our efforts the older we get. But your friendship and peer circles are the most important external influences in determining your happiness (outside of your intimate relationship). Get serious about expanding your peer circle by going to networking events, fund-raisers, and local events and performances. Be on the lookout not just for networking purposes, but for friendship-making purposes.
6. Skill Development
Adding new skills is a great way to keep your brain alive and open the doors to new possibilities.
What ten skills should you develop this year? How actively are you currently chasing and working toward mastery of something like writing, speaking, singing, cooking, programming, leading, playing soccer, or some other artistic, athletic, or professional skill?
The challenge of seeking new skills is one of the surest ways to test and transcend your own boundaries. Go find something new to learn, and fall on your face trying to learn it. Enjoy the process of learning–it’s one of the easiest paths to a more engaged brain (and life).
The quality of your life is really the quality of your experiences.
If you want to raise the bar and feel fully alive, then challenge yourself to find new ways to try new things and to add new experiences to your life.
Otherwise, you may slowly lose your spark that makes everything else worth it.
Keep your spark.