Eight Ways to Try Something New (and One Even Better Idea)

In the spirit of the topic of this post, I’m going to try something new to kick it off—a poem:

When you’re feeling blue

Or your mind feels glued

What it’d behoove you to do

Is get off your caboose

And try something new!

(Eat your green eggs and ham heart out, Dr. Seuss!)

Childish?

Absolutely.

That’s kind of the point. Kids are the best new-thing-try-ers, so maybe we ought to take a page from their coloring books.

If not, we risk becoming even staler, more close-minded, and more set-in-our-ways than the youngsters already think we are.

So to give you (and myself) a kick in the pants, here are:

  • Eight ways to try something new that seemed to have worked for me
  • The items on my to-try list
  • A final suggestion that may be even better than trying something new

8 Ways to Try Something New

I’m glad I tried them, so maybe you will be, too.

Kalky's fish and chips has lots of vegetable oils
For a new experience, try temporarily quitting something familiar, like fried foods.

✓ Quit something old.

The saying “Quitters never prosper” is bogus. As mindful minimalists love to remind us, we’re often better off removing unnecessary things from our lives than adding new ones.

Here are a few of the many things I’m glad I quit.

  • Sleeping on beds. Try sleeping on the floor to test my philosophy that, You are what you sleep on.
  • Eating breakfast. I stopped about five years ago. About a year later, I quit eating entirely, doing a multi-day fast. And these experiences changed my relationship with food for the better.
  • Breathing through my mouth. Inspired by James Nestor’s book, Breath, I started taping my lips together at night and doing other exercises to train myself to stop mouth breathing and start nose breathing.
One of the 36 questions to try
Try conversation starters like the 36 Questions.

✓ Interact in new ways.

Take your conversations deeper with Arthur Aron’s 36 questions. Even though Kim and I were already in love when we went through them in Medellin, they brought us closer together.

Or host a “Priya Method” dinner party by being intentional about your get-together’s Why, Who, How, Where, and What. It takes more thought, but less fuss and frilly fanciness than a Martha-Stewart-esque dinner party. And if you can’t be bothered to host, seek out a social dining experience like Reverie Social Table in Cape Town.

You can also try interacting with yourself differently. Write a letter to your future self. I tried this for the first time since high school last year and am really looking forward to reading what I wrote.

✓ Eat something new.

Try eating with your hands for extra sensations, doing a blind taste test to challenge your palate preconceptions, training your palate, or challenging yourself to acquire a taste for a food you don’t think you enjoy—like I did with black licorice.

Or pick a random country from a map, then find a restaurant nearby that serves food from there. I find dining experiences at hole-in-the-wall foreign eateries are more memorable (and a lot cheaper) than trendy hipster hotspots.

✓ Make something new.

It could be a painting, sweater, poem, or porcelain pot. Or a business. Whatever. For me, it’s this blog and my YouTube channel. They may not be super financially rewarding, but they are spiritually satisfying.

And probably the most rewarding thing I ever made, though some say it’s bad for the environment, was my son, Zac.

Kim doing a handstand in Vancouver
One way to look at the world from a different perspective.

✓ Move in new ways.

As the saying goes, If you don’t use it, you lose it and become a rickety old physiotherapist’s dream.

So move more like you did as a little tyke:

Or try a new sport. This coincides with the next thing to consider trying…

✓ Attempt new hobbies.

Spend time on activities that, as Oliver Burkeman puts it in his book Four Thousand Weeks, “the only thing we’re trying to get from them is the doing itself.”

When Kim and I moved to Cape Town, she came up with the idea to make the most of the beautiful scenery and soft sand beaches by trying our hands at beach volleyball. Four years later, it’s become our favorite pastime.

Prior to that, we got into photography. Part of it was to have less amateurish images for the travel posts on this blog. But it turned out to change the way we look at the world and help us better capture memorable moments.

✓ Go somewhere new.

Given that Explore is on the main menu of this blog, travel’s obviously a huge part of my life and one I strongly endorse.

And even better than traveling, in my experience, is moving to a new city—at least for a few months. As I shared in my post on why I stopped counting how many countries I’ve visited, it’s the difference between one-night stands and a long-term relationship.

Then whenever you start feeling too comfortable in whichever city you settle in, try being a tourist in your own town.

30-day challenge tracking calendar posted on fridge
Why not do a new 30-day challenge every month?

✓ Try starting a new habit.

My experiments with quitting podcasts, daily mobility, exchanging a different “grateful” with Kim every day, and lifelogging have gone on to have lasting impacts.

So while it may be a self-help cliché, taking on a 30-day challenge to do something like the above is fun and effective.

My To-Try List

  • Go a whole day blindfolded. Will my other senses be enhanced?
  • Hire a coach. I feel the coaching industry’s over-saturated with under-qualified charlatans, but I also believe the right coach could help accelerate my progress.
  • Volunteer mentor. Even though I’m just a lowly blogger, I believe I could help younger people who feel stuck or unsure what moves to take next. I do so via this site, but I think doing it in person could be more impactful.
  • A misogi. This idea, which I got from Michael Easter’s The Comfort Crisis, is to take on an intense, quirky physical challenge that you only have a 50-percent chance of completing, but won’t kill you. More on misogis here.
  • Learn about music. I grew up in a talk radio family and only started listening to music when I was fourteen. And I still prefer podcasts. So, like how photography improved how I look at the world, I suspect that learning an instrument or how to make music will alter how I listen to it.
  • Look looong and hard. Inspired by an exercise Oliver Burkeman shares in Four Thousand Weeks, and by Elisabeth Tova Bailey’s charming story of listening to The Sound of a Wild Snail Eating, I want to try going to a museum and staring at a piece of art for three hours straight.
  • Do nothing. “Nothing is harder to do than nothing,” wrote Jenny Odell, so my next 30-day challenge is to attempt to do it (or not do it?) for 10 minutes every day.
  • Slaughter an animal. I’ve eaten meat all my life, but, aside from fish, never eaten what I’ve killed.
  • Surprise a stranger. After reading this story and the hundreds of others in the comments on the Cup of Jo blog, I’m keen to put the hedonic paradox—which says the only way to make yourself happy is to try to make others happy—into practice by buying some random strangers drinks or dinner.

What else do you suggest?

I’m kind of disheartened by the shortness of this list, so please leave a comment with your ideas.

And if you don’t usually comment on blogs, consider it something new for you to try!

kims family showing us their freshly picked coffee fruit at finca la leona in envigado
Try something new, like picking coffee, but prioritize going deep into the familiar, like Kim hanging out with her family.

Better Yet

Today, you may be best served to try something new as a quick fix for your boredom, malaise, or close-mindedness.

But

Continuously trying new things to spice up your stale life isn’t a long-term fix. Because if you overload your life with spice, it’s not going to be very palatable.

You need something substantial on your plate to sprinkle spices onto.

Pete Davis’ book, Dedicated, which I will soon add to my list of “sledgehammer” books that changed my thinking, woke me up to this.

So rather than try something new, consider giving extra time and attention to going deeper on something you’re already doing:

  • Rather than making a new friend, forge a stronger bond with an existing one.
  • Rather than taking on another new hobby, hone in on one you can make your craft.
  • Rather than digital nomad around the world counting countries, get more involved in your local community.

It’s like slow cooking or aging. Patience and perseverance allow life’s tastiest and most unique flavors to emerge.

The greatest novelty comes from depth.

And this is something kids can’t experience, but we grown-ups can.

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