In this post: An increasingly extreme selection of new things to try that spruced up my life and may do the same for yours.
You know how you look back on old pictures of yourself and wonder, “Whoa! I can’t believe I used to look like that”?
That’s what I think now about my life—for the better.
My life today may not be awe-inspiringly appealing to many of you, but it’s way less ugly than it was a few years ago. It had gone stale. I was going back and forth every day, getting nowhere but deeper in my ruts.
So I gave my life a makeover with the following new things to try, which I’ve listed in order from quick-and-easy to un-turn-back-from-able.
I’m not suggesting you try all the same things. But if you want to stay fresh, you may want to consider some of them.
New Things to Try
“Quick Experiment” New Things to Try
✓ Spark better conversations.
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.
One example to get you started:
If you could give everyone in the world one personality trait, what would it be?
- Article: 36 questions to fall in love (or quickly develop a strong bond)
- Google Doc: 75+ “friend questions.”
- Product: 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 “GPS” 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.
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.
Kim’s mom is from Japan, where people are too civilized to wipe, so she had to figure out how to use toilet paper on her own when she moved to Canada.
And this meant that whatever she taught Kim was probably not the best practice. So Kim researched and rethought her wiping technique. And she hasn’t wiped the same way since.
✓ Men: Sit down to pee.
I was 30 years old when I was finally manly enough to accept that sitting down to pee is the way to go (…number 1…at home…not in nasty public restrooms or in nature).
It’s less messy (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.
- Post: Why Men Should Pee Sitting Down (At Least at Home)
- Video: How to Convince A Man to Sit Down to Pee
✓ 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.
My experience has been that hosting any sort of dinner party is an improvement over eating at home alone in front of a screen. And I’d argue it’s better than eating out with friends.
But for a truly memorable get together that creates a stronger connection with your guests, Kim and I have learned to host Priya Parker-style dinner parties.
This means being intentional about our party’s purpose and planning everything else —who to invite, how to make it happen, where to do it, and what to serve—around that objective. 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 left The Unconventional Route to her own 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…
✓ Organize a blind taste test.
Ever since some friends and I went way overboard with a blind taste test of 36 different beers in college, blind taste tests have been my favorite social activity.
Kim is on board now, too. It’s our go-to move for making new friends and 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/chocolate/croissant/sushi/etc. You name it, we’ve taste tested it.
“Simple Habit” New Things to Try
✓ Treat the type II diabetes of your mind.
I used to suffer from information overload. I gorged on the bottomless supply of free information in my Twitter and podcast feeds and on the tray of my email inbox. It made me mentally and physically jittery. But I wanted more and more.
My saving grace was being forced into an extended information fast with the arrival of my son, Zac.
This break helped me discover a sort of information insulin—a way to filter out nutritious information from the hollow crap that only makes me want more:
Pronounced “wide-body,” it stands for, What will I do differently based on this information?
✓ Exchange daily gratefuls with your partner.
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 exchanges have 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
✓ Track your time like an accountant.
By making me more aware of how I spend my time, my “lifelogging” practice 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 get distorted or 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
✓ Ditch the gym.
I used to be a flexing-biceps-in-the-mirror gym monkey. And I enjoyed it.
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.
This was the first of three steps in my self-transformation from fly-swallowing mouth breather to noble nose breather.
Taping your mouth looks and feels crazy, but the rewards are worth it, even if you’re already a nose breather.
- Reduced incidence of snoring.
- Increased nitrous oxide in your blood, which improves circulation.
- Better temperature regulation.
- Reduced allergic reactions by filtering the air.
- Less dehydrating than breathing through your mouth, which causes you to wake up to drink water and pee in the middle of the night.
- Building the healthy 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.
I used to spend a lot of time every day keeping up to date with the news. I believed it was my duty as a concerned citizen. And I thought it made me smarter.
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
✓ 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.
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
- Video: The Unfiltered 3-Day Fast Experience
- 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
✓ Get off your big comfy bed.
Since I started experimenting with sleeping on the floor over a year ago, I’ve come to believe “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.
The opposite. 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 with plenty of padding to start.
- Post: Sleeping on the Floor: 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.
- Video: Sleeping On the Floor Lessons I Learned the Hard Way
✓ Wear merino wool.
I got my first merino shirt a few years ago. Now, all of my shirts are made of the material.
Merino is magically anti-odor, wrinkle-resistant, and insulating. While it’s most popular as a technical fabric for outdoor enthusiasts, it’s becoming increasingly popular in everyday wear.
- Post: Merino Wool’s Pros and Cons: The Honest Truth (It includes my favorite merino apparel for first-timers.)
- Video: This $100 Plain T-Shirt’s 100% Worth It
✓ Take on a mini research project.
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.
✓ Climb “the nature pyramid.”
I’ve never thought of myself as an “outdoorsy” person. But then I read about “the nature pyramid” in Michael Easter’s The Comfort Crisis.
As it happened, I’d discovered the joys of spending time on level one of the pyramid the month before. I’d just finished a 30-day challenge of doing a 20- to 40-minute “empty-pocket walk” every day in the woods or along the beach (another new thing to try, by the way).
Level two of the pyramid is five hours a month hiking, picnicking, biking, or whatever in parks outside of town.
And level three, the peak, is three or more days in the wild. The real wild: no cell phone signal or outhouses.
So when a friend invited me on a 5-day canyon adventure, I was keen to see what the view was like from the top of the nature pyramid.
It was extraordinary. I experienced what neuroscientists call “the 3-day effect” and came away believing that escaping into nature is the most all-inclusive and underrated form of self-help out there.
“No Turning Back” New Things to Try
I pretired when I was 27. By that, I mean I quit working to get a taste of retirement before I had accumulated enough savings to actually retire.
For better or for worse, my pretirement is 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.
For Kim and I, moving to Medellin, Colombia for six months jumpstarted our life makeover. The stimulation of a different language, climate, and culture and new foods and friends opened us up to trying most of the other new things in this post.
Since then, we’ve moved on to live in Essaouira, Morocco, Valencia, Spain, and Cape Town, South Africa. We’ve fallen in love with the latter and now split our time between there and Vancouver, Canada, enjoying perpetual summer.
✓ Have a kid.
Zac has made my life objectively worse. I have less money, free time, and sleep, and more worries and responsibilities.
So why do so many new parents say, “Having a kid was the best thing that’s ever happened to me?”
Mostly, I think they’re self-justifying to save themselves from collapsing into an exhausted puddle of diaper lotion. Either that or, I suspect the answer is this:
Our goal in life shouldn’t be for it to be as easy and happy as possible. It should be to live a story worth telling. And the ups and downs of having a kid enhance the adventure.
As for more than one kid? I can’t even imagine. Maybe that’s a new thing to try down the line.
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.
If you pick one or two of these new things to try and get started, hopefully you will feel the same.
The sooner you start, the sooner you’ll be glad you did.
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