SFH #85: Novelty

Using new experiences for advancing our health 💫

Believe it or not, there is research to support that people who seek out new experiences are healthier and happier. We've upped our health levels this week. 🙌🏼 We decided to make a spur-of-the-moment change to our family vacation, and we are soaking in new adventures with our boys in Miami. 🏝 

A novel experience was an early evolutionary reward for us. We needed to be able to learn and adapt to new environments. Our brains became more complex as we soaked up new skills, tools, and information along the path of new horizons. We received a dopamine rush to help us imprint the new memories and a greater chance of survival.1 Brain researchers believe that our ability to migrate far and wide and develop complex societies is likely dependent on this crucial feature of our brains.2

So, how should we embrace or neophilia advantage?

  1. Just push a smidge past your comfort zone. You don't need to jump out of an airplane or throw all caution to the wind. Find small ways to push your boundaries from trying new foods to exploring a new subject matter through a class, a book, or with a friend.

  2. Break up a familiar routine. Try an anti-routine day once in a while. Pick one day a week or even in a month where you purposely try out an unfamiliar (or anti-routine) in place of the one you've grooved so well.

  3. Balance novelty and routine. We still benefit from routine and ritual.3 I like to pursue new experiences that implement both (next up is Spanish immersion).

  4. Finally, consider using novelty to go beyond a fear that may be holding you back. I like this question. What's one small thing you could try that could offer a new perspective? I did a book group last summer for Me and White Supremacy. It was one of the best new perspectives that rocked my world.

Courtesy of Viktor Koen and the New York Times