Spice Up Your (Out-)Look
Trying new things every once in a while keeps your life from going stale and getting out of touch.
It’s like updating your hairstyle and your wardrobe. Spice things up every once in a while, maybe make a few bold moves, keep that momentum going, and in a couple of years you’ll look back at who you used to be and think, “Whoa! I can’t believe I looked like that. What a transformation!”
Kim and I are proof. Only a few years ago, our lives were getting ugly. We were falling into boring ruts, going back and forth every day but getting nowhere. Our lives desperately needed a makeover.
The following new things to try did the trick. Our lives still aren’t perfect by any means, but they’re getting better with age, not worse.
Maybe one or two of these new things to try can have the same effect on you.
New Things to Try
“Quick Experiment” New Things to Try
These new things to try are like trying on a new hat: low-risk and easy to give a whirl. If any work out for you, great! If they fall flat, no biggie. You can go back to what’s comfortable at the drop of a hat.
Spark Better Conversations
Try using conversation starters like, “If you could give everyone in the world one personality trait, what would it be?”
Kim and I got started with conversation starters after I read about Art Aron’s 36 Questions to Fall in Love in Chip and Dan Heath’s book, The Power of Moments. The questions made for WAY better conversation, made me fall in love with Kim more than ever, and made me fall in love with conversation starters.
- 36 questions to fall in love (or quickly develop a strong bond)
- Google Docs list of 75+ “friend questions.”
- Buy Table Topics and put the cards on your table as a physical reminder.
Ask Yourself Some Tough Questions
If you don’t like the previous idea of talking with other people, talk to yourself. Ask yourself the ten questions I regularly come back to that help me double-check whether I’m taking my life in the right direction.
- The Strategy Setter: What is your definition of “winning at life”?
- The Habit Starter: What one thing could you do (that you aren’t doing now) that, if you did on a regular basis, would make a tremendous positive difference in your life?
- The Un-Settler: What would your 20-year-old self think about where you’re at today?
Eat a Messy Meal With Your Hands
Put that (not so) sterile silverware aside and delight in the extra sensation of digging into salads, rice dishes, and more with your five-tined finger fork.
I re-learned the childish delight of doing so while traveling in Sri Lanka, where it’s customary to eat “messy” foods with your hands. Doing so seemed to reignite my childhood open-mindedness, too.
When I later researched the science of taste perception, I also learned that eating with your hands can improve the taste of your food. It may even be healthier.
- Post: Can You Get More Out of Your Food by Eating With Your Hands?
- Article: The Science, Folklore, and Joy of Eating With One’s Hands
Women: Try a Different Way to Wipe
Maybe it’s time to reconsider the toilet paper wiping technique you’ve been using ever since your mommy potty trained you.
Kim’s mom had to figure out how to use toilet paper on her own when she moved to Canada from Japan. So whatever she taught Kim was probably not the best practice. Kim researched and rethought her wiping technique and hasn’t wiped the same way since.
Men: Sit Down to Pee
Only try sitting down to pee at home where you know the toilet’s clean and you want to keep it that way. At public restrooms and in nature, fire away afoot.
I was 30 years old when I made the move. It’s less mess (I don’t care how accurate you think you are), more relaxing, and I never have to fight with Kim about whether to leave to toilet seat down.
Do a SHIIT Workout
You’ve probably heard of HIIT (high-intensity interval training) before. SHIIT is the super intense version of that. For example, sprint for a minute as if an ax murderer’s chasing you, gasp for breath for one minute, and repeat ten times.
Since Kim and I started SHIIT-ing, we rarely do boring steady-state cardio (like jogging) anymore. SHIIT is faster, more engaging, and at least as effective, if not more.
- Post: The Better Way to Get Motivated to Work Out When You Don’t Feel Like It
- Post: Why and How You Should Start Sprint Training
- Post: Pant-athlons, or favorite type of SHIIT workout.
- Book: The One-Minute Workout by Martin Gibala, shares the science behind SHIIT workouts and is one of my favorite “sledgehammer” books that change your thinking. (Or listen to his podcast interview with Tim Ferriss.)
- See our library of metabolic exercises, a.k.a, our toy box of toil.
Host a “Priya Parker” Dinner Party
Hosting any sort of dinner party is an improvement over eating at home in front of a screen. I’d argue it’s better than eating out with friends, too. But for a truly memorable get together that creates a stronger connection with your guests, try a Priya Parker-style dinner party.
Be intentional about your party’s purpose and plan everything else around it—who to invite, how to make it happen, where to do it, and what to serve. It takes more thinking in advance, but you and your guests will think it’s worth it after.
Kim is so into these types of dinner parties that she’s started another blog on the topic, Feed My Friends.
- Post: Host better dinner parties with these 5 counterintuitive steps
- Book: The Art of Gathering, by Priya Parker
- Blog: Kim’s bringing dinner parties back, better than ever, with Feed My Friends.
- Incorporate the next new thing to try on this list…
Do a Blind Taste Test
Ever since some friends and I went way overboard with a blind taste test of 36 different beers in college, I’ve been a huge fan.
Kim is on board now, too. It’s our go-to move for learning about local foods and drinks in countries we go to (like Colombian aguardiente and cheese). It’s also the best way to settle an argument when I think Kim’s spending too much money on some hipster, artisanal brand of coffee or chocolate.
“Simple Habit” New Things to Try
These new things to try are like trying a new deodorant (or going “au natural”). There’s only a little bit of risk involved, but you have to stick with these things for a while to assess whether or not they work better for you.
Exchange Daily Gratefuls With Your Partner
Every day, tell your partner something different about them that you’re grateful for. Continue for as long as you’re together.
I started giving Kim a “daily grateful” in November 2015. Five years and 1,800+ gratefuls later, I’m still going strong. So is our relationship. Kim and I agree our gratitude practice has played an important role in keeping it that way.
- Post: Daily Gratitude: A Cheesy but Easy Way to Fix a Struggling Relationship
- Post: More quick but effective relationship hacks
Write Down What You Do
Note down the quick details of how you’re spending your time and for how long on an electronic journal and keep it up all day, every day.
It sounds boring. You might even worry it’s a waste of time. But my experience has been the opposite. Extraordinary.
By making me more aware of how I spend my time, it keeps me from wasting it and seems to slow it down. It also acts as my second brain, preserving valuable memories and information that would have otherwise disappeared forever.
- Post: Lifelogging: Can Keeping Track of Everything You Do Help You Do More?
- Post: Time Logging Day 1,876: A Boring Example of an Extraordinary Habit
- Post: Investing Time vs. Spending Time, by Tynan
- Video: Why I keep a journal of everything I do
Ditch the Gym for Natural Outdoor Workouts
Spend less time moving metal around in some sweatbox gym and more time moving your own bodyweight (and others’!) in the great outdoors.
I used to be a big-time gym monkey. I enjoyed it, and I enjoyed flexing my biceps in the mirror. But since I got into working out outside during my pretirement, when I was too cheap to pay for a gym membership, I’ve learned I appreciate the fresh air and natural movements (handstands, sprints, jumps, climbs) much more.
- Post: Why You Might Want to Ditch the Gym to Work Out Outside
- Post: Natural Outdoor Workouts: A Comprehensive Beginner’s Guide
- Website: GMB Fitness for all sorts of inspiration
Tape Your Mouth Shut at Night
Place a postage-stamp-sized piece of medical tape across your lips before falling asleep. It looks and feels crazy, but, especially if you’re a mouth breather like I used to be, the rewards are worth it.
Forcing yourself to breathe through your nose:
- Reduces incidence of snoring.
- Increases the amount of nitrous oxide in your blood, which improves circulation.
- Better regulates your temperature.
- Filters your air and reduces allergic reactions.
- Prevents you from dehydrating yourself via nose breathing.
- Encourages the habit of nose breathing throughout the day.
- Post: How to Stop Mouth Breathing and Become a Nose Breather
- Book: Breath, by James Nestor
- Podcast: How Changing Your Breathing Can Change Your Life
Stop Following the News So Much
Unsubscribe from any daily news-related subscriptions, remove the news from your phone, and stop watching it on T.V.
I used to spend a lot of time every day keeping up to date with the news. I thought it was my duty as a concerned citizen. But after going through some thought experiments, I’ve realized it’s in my best interests and the best interests of those around me to cut my consumption significantly.
- Post: Quit the News? 15 Thought Experiments That May Change Your Ways
- Book: Stop Reading the News, by Rolf Dobelli
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“Minimally-Risky Plunge” New Things to Try
These new things to try are like getting a new style of haircut. They take some up-front risk, might not feel great at first, and can a while to get used to. But when they work out well, you’ll be glad for it and wonder why it took you so long to try.
Do a Prolonged Fast
Fasting is probably the most impactful new thing to try in this list, so please slow your scrolling and consider it.
By prolonged fasting, I mean going a couple days to a week without food. Many friends, family members, readers, and I have given fasting a fair shot and never looked back.
Since I took the plunge with my first ever three-day fast, I’ve done dozens more. I no longer feel unhealthy food cravings, I get a spiritual and productivity boost every time, and, if there’s anything to the science of fasting, I’m increasing my odds of living a longer, healthier life.
- Post: What to Expect From a 3-Day Fast if You’ve Never Fasted Before
- Post: Why Fast? Prolonged Fasting’s Surprising Benefits and Disadvantages
- Post: Easy Water Fasting Tips From a Guy Who Learned the Hard Way
- Book: The Complete Guide to Fasting, by Jason Fung
Sleep On the Floor
“You are what you sleep on.” And I don’t mean you’ll feel like a million bucks if you spent that much on a mattress. It’s the opposite.
Since I started experimenting with sleeping on the floor over a year ago, my body and mind feel harder and more resilient than ever. And my sleep has improved, too (after an adjustment period).
A word from the wise: Don’t go straight to sleeping on unpadded hardwood. Ease the transition. Try a thin mattress on top of a carpet to start.
- Post: Sleeping on the Flood: A Year’s Worth of Lessons Learned the Hard Way.
- Post: Floor Sleeping FAQ: Pillows, Positioning, Pain, and More
- Book: Why We Sleep, another of my favorite “sledgehammer books,” to understand why sleeping is so important.
- Gadget: Consider getting an Oura Ring to be more conscious of your sleep quality.
Wear Merino Wool Clothing
Merino is anti-odor, wrinkle-resistant, and insulative. While it’s most popular as a technical fabric for outdoor enthusiasts, it’s becoming increasingly popular as everyday wear.
I got my first merino shirt a few years ago. Now, all of my shirts are made of the material.
- Post: Merino Wool’s Pros and Cons: The Honest Truth (It includes my favorite merino apparel for first-timers.)
Take On a Mini Research Project
Refocus the time and energy you spend on random podcasts, books, news reports, articles, and social media towards doing a deep-dive on one single topic. Find various sources of information, take notes, and discuss what you learned with friends or on the internet.
My first mini research project was on how to change someone’s mind. I’ve since researched topics like changing my own mind, gift-giving, training my sense of taste, and improving my relationship with Kim. Now, I’m learning how to learn.
There’s no doubt I’m better off for having done these deep dives rather than having skimmed the surface of a million other topics.
- If you can’t think of a topic or find friends to discuss with, consider joining us to consider a new, different topic every week in our newsletter, Consider This.
“No Turning Back” New Things to Try
These new things to try are like getting nose jobs. There’s no turning back. Carefully think them through and plan them out before taking the plunge.
Rather than dedicate your working life to something not entirely fulfilling so you can do whatever you want when you retire, “pretire.” Work for a few years to accumulate professional skills and a financial cushion, then seek out a fulfilling career you’ll never want to retire from.
I pretired when I was 27. For better or for worse, that’s what led me to starting this blog. I’m healthier, happier, and even wealthier than ever before. Maybe I got lucky, but I’m glad I took my chances.
- Post: Pretirement: What to Do When Early Retirement Isn’t Early Enough
- Post: How to Take a Career Break: 8 Steps to Reset and Find Your Calling
- Blog: Mr. Money Mustache, one of the few truly life-changing personal development blogs I’ve found, has all sorts of financial freedom inspiration.
Move to a New Country
Move somewhere new for at least six months so you can make local friends, learn some of the language, get intimate with the culture, and start to feel at home.
For Kim and I, moving to Medellin, Colombia jumpstarted our life makeover and got us trying most of the other new things in this post.
What Are You Waiting For?
Last week, Kim and I walked around our old neighborhood in Vancouver. It brought flashbacks of our lives there from a few years ago. I couldn’t help but think, “Wow. I can’t believe how much our lives have changed since then.”
And I’m looking forward to how much our lives will change in the years to come as we keep trying new things.
Hopefully you will feel the same if you pick one or two of these new things to try and get started. The sooner you start, the sooner you’ll be glad you did.
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