New Things to Try: 15 Ideas to Freshen Up Your Life

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.

“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.

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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.

For example:

  • 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?

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Eat with your hands cover image of hand beside cutlery
Use the you-tensile on the right.

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.

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One hand with scrunched toilet paper, tho other with folded.
Which side are you on?

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.

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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.

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Chris exhausted on the sand.
Recovering between intervals during a dune sprinting SHIIT workout.

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.

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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.

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Croissant blind taste test
If you can swallow it, you can blind taste test it. Here, we’re doing croissants.

Do a Blind Taste Test

Invite some friends over, assemble a bunch of different brands or types of coffee/ice cream/beer/sushi/wine/etcetera, and challenge your taste buds to reveal your true preferences.

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.

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“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.

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Holding my phone on notes app showing my first ever time log
My first time log from Sep 2015. This boring habit has had extraordinary results.

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.

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Kim doing a handstand in Vancouver
Go outside and play—and get fit doing so.

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.

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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.

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One Chris reading the news, the other relaxing
Try being the guy on the left, not the guy on the right.

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.

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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.

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Sleeping on the floor
“You are what you eat,” and… you are what you sleep on?

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.

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Chris in his new go-to button-up shirt
My merino-linen blend shirt kept me cool in Valencia, Spain‘s sweltering summer.

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.

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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.

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  • 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.

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Chris and Kim living the high life at a Cape Town winery
Kim and I celebrating having ditched Canada’s cold winters and expensive wine for the opposite in Cape Town.

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.

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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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