If you’re like most people, your life is pretty routine. You probably do the same things day after day and stay within your comfort zone. There’s nothing wrong with this. In fact, it’s normal. It is nature’s way of keeping you safe. Your instinct is to do what you’re comfortable with and plan your days around those activities. So why is it important to try new things in midlife and beyond?
According to an article in NPR….
“At every stage of life, you should be a rookie at something. This insight comes from Chris Dionigi, a Ph.D. in “weed science” and the deputy director of the National Invasive Species Council (that kind of weed). He believes trying new things and failing keeps you robust. He took comedy improv classes and now spends many nights and weekends riding his bicycle as an auxiliary police officer for Arlington County, Va.”
“Always have something new and challenging in your life, he says, “and if that something is of service to people and things you care about, you can lead an extraordinary life.”
As women, we spend much of our lives taking care of other people. As soon as we’re old enough to do so, we begin to care for others, often putting our own needs aside. It’s wonderful to nurture but you also need to care for yourself. Once your kids have grown it’s time to begin to prioritize yourself and create an enjoyable, active, and happy life. A great way to accomplish this is to try new things regularly.
Why don’t we try new things?
Because it’s scary.
There are many reasons why we hesitate to try new experiences. Maybe you’ll look silly or stupid. Perhaps people will think your desire to try something new is strange. You could be afraid that you’ll get hurt or that you’ll fail. All of these reasons can stop you from expanding your horizons.
Sometimes people sabotage themselves. When my husband wants to do something, he just does it. I, on the other hand, never seem to get to it or can’t find the time. I have so many other things that I have to do. For example, I have to clean the house, go to the market, cook dinner or a dozen other excuses. But do I really have to do these things or do I simply choose to do them instead of prioritizing other options?
Let me be clear, I am not mad at my husband for doing what he enjoys. I am envious. I wonder why it is that he seems to always find for fun yet I don’t. The more I considered this the clearer it became that the only reason I don’t spend more time doing what I want to do is because I don’t prioritize it.
But, trying new things is good for you. There are psychological benefits to trying new things. As we age, it becomes more important than ever to keep the mind and body active and engaged.
Increase your creativity
Trying new things increases your creativity. By embarking on new adventures, you expand your world. You gain new perspectives that help you to see experiences through a different lens. The more experiences you have, the richer your life.
Trying new things decreases boredom
Routine can become boring and boredom can lead to self-destructive activities such as overeating, watching too much T.V. or drinking too much. Clearly none of these activities is awful in moderation, but they can each become problematic when used to pass time. Instead of settling into unhealthy options, why not try something new, something fun?
Get to know yourself
You are an interesting person!
will never know how much more is inside you if you don’t step out of the mold you’ve created for yourself. Think about the experiences that you love in your life. Chances are that these activities were at some point new but now you can’t imagine your life without them. A great example for me is boating. I never imagined myself as a boater until my husband convinced me that it would be a great way to spend our summers. I was indifferent but eventually agreed because it was so important to him. Over the years I have grown to love boating and can’t imagine my life without it.
It’s hard to meet new people. This is increasingly true as we become more distant from one another due to technology. Children have many natural opportunities for friendship. But those opportunities disappear as you age. Human beings are gregarious by nature and need the companionship of others. Many activities have a built-in social group of like-minded people. It’s a great way to make friends!
Keep your mind and body active. Be healthy.
Like it or not, you’re aging. But that doesn’t mean you have to get old. An active mind stays alert. An active body stays strong. If you’ve never exercised in your life, now is the time to start. If you exercise regularly, great! Now’s the time to change up your routine. Many activities are fun ways to get moving and have fun with the extra benefit of improving your health.
I’ve made a commitment to myself to try at least one new activity every season. I want you to do the same.
How to get started trying new things
There is no right way to get started. Find what works for you. If you’re unsure, then start with simple changes. You don’t have to do something crazy in order to do something new. Although stretching yourself into something extremely different isn’t a bad idea. For most people though, it’s easier to start small. Think about your interests and make baby steps. Consider the season and consider what you enjoyed as a child. For more ideas, read 7 New Things to Try This Spring and 7 New Things to Try This Summer. To learn more about trying things with social distance read Connect with Friends and Family with Social Distance.