Quarantine has made staying in your comfort zone the norm. There’s nothing wrong with enjoying curling up on your couch in your own space, but there’s also nothing particularly thrilling about it. Humans are more comfortable in situations they are familiar with or people they know, this is a fact. However, life is too short to spend it repeating the same experiences time and again. That’s why you should make 2021 the year to embrace new things. You can choose how novel the things you experiment with are but try something new. Push yourself to take a step, and then two beyond your comfort zone, and what follows will make you grateful you were so brave, even if you’re not immediately great at whatever it happens to be.
1. Developing a New Skill
If quarantine for you conjures images of pajamas and countless Netflix marathons, you’re not alone. With an unprecedented amount of free time, some took this as an opportunity to pick up a new hobby. Do you remember the fleeting bread baking craze, or Tiger King? This is one example of many shared experiences people had together, while apart, in quarantine.
Another popular activity was online gaming. Many around the country, and the globe took to their computer screens to connect with others and try their hand at a previously unknown activity. Developing a new skill when you try something new, is the best-case scenario. Even if you don’t discover your life’s purpose, you’re still improving your mood, exercising your brain and honing a new skill.
2. The Thrill of the Unknown
Do you remember the first time you sat behind the wheel of a car before your first day of driving? Of course, there’s a level of fear, it’s a brand new situation with which you have no experience. But wasn’t there also a slight rush of adrenaline and the feeling of being poised to do something scary but exciting?
Think of your first kiss, or the first time you jumped off a high dive into a pool. There’s a rush that comes with trying something new. When you branch out in 2021, you can have that feeling back. The excitement, the mild trepidation, the certainty that this is something you’ve never tried before. Your brain rewards you for trying and the boost of endorphins you feel is guaranteed to make you glad you gave it a shot.
3. Brain Growth
The benefits that accompany stepping into the unknown have been scientifically proven. Your brain thrives when it’s given new challenges to think its way through or new experiences to process. This is called brain plasticity and it’s extremely advantageous to your overall health and wellness as you age and throughout your entire life. At a certain point your brain stops making new connections and simple tasks that used to come easily, become a struggle.
You can combat the inevitability of aging by trying something new here and there. The more your brain is forced to contend with things it’s never before encountered, the more your neural connections flourish. Do yourself a favor, and try that new workout class, or embark on a new adventure, your brain will thank you in the long run. Plus, you’ll be more prepared to tackle learning the skills to snag the big promotion at work or develop communication skills that will strengthen your personal relationships.
4. Sense of Fulfillment
When you try a new skill, there are typically some nerves involved. Think back to the first time you hiked up a mountain or tried a different cooking technique. The skill doesn’t come as easily at first but isn’t the sense of pride worth it? One of the main secrets to self-fulfillment, and leading a happier life in general, is taking pride in yourself and your accomplishments. Arguably this can be achieved through a sense of pride in the mastery of a favorite skill or pastime.
Challenge yourself to think about the sense of fulfillment you felt from trying something completely outside of your comfort zone however. When you know that you pushed through the nerves to do it, isn’t your self satisfaction greater? Sure, maybe it wasn’t the most comfortable experience, but the value is in the journey and part of that journey is taking the first step.
5. Exposure to New Ways of Thinking
Earth is a big place. On this planet we have a myriad of different cultures, ideologies and passions. Limiting yourself to a small sector of these isn’t a crime, but it also isn’t very accurate to the entire spectrum that is humanity. When you travel or meet someone new, you’re exposing yourself to new ways to interact with this world. Diversity is a constant in this world, and by exposing yourself to new ways of thinking, you begin to understand a fraction of the diversity that surrounds you. Diversity is also linked to more creative ways of thinking, which happens to be linked to a more secure sense of self.
If you never get outside of your bubble, your understanding of the world and your place in it is colored by your unique niche. Who knows what you’ll find when you venture into the unknown, maybe a new way of thinking or a new outlook on life. Evil is born of intolerance, one sure way to avoid evil is to experience as much as possible and make judgments only after you’ve made an effort to understand.
You won’t like everything you try, but you also won’t know what you’ll like unless you try it first. 2020 was a doozy of a year for everyone. So many choices were removed, now that the options are back, don’t squander them. You don’t have to take up skydiving or extreme body modification, but by expanding your horizons you will only enhance your life. Your brain will thank you, your mood will improve and you’ll snag some great Instagram pictures along the way. Life is too short to never venture beyond what you know. So go out and try something new, take that risk, you won’t regret it.