When your emotions are intense, you may find yourself playing it safe in life. You don’t want to take risks for fear that you would be rejected, fail, or not be able to handle new experiences. Really, what if you lose it completely and break out in tears in front of total strangers? Maybe you don’t trust yourself to take reasonable risks. Maybe in the past when you’ve broken out of your routine you’ve gone to an extreme and the consequences weren’t pleasant. Selling all your belongings and moving to Mexico is not the type of change that I’m talking about.
Maybe you’re afraid of change though you don’t really know why. The idea of not waking up in the same place and seeing the same people and following your routine is most unpleasant.
So you get up at about the same time every day and behave in much the same way. You eat the same foods and you go to the same movie theater. You have the same friends and perhaps even see them at the same time each week. In many ways routine or structure is helpful in managing emotions. Predictability is part of the way you cope. Yet too much of it can squash the joy out of life.
Exploring new experiences is one of the ways to increase your happiness. The new experiences don’t need to be huge changes. Maybe you could explore part of your city that you don’t know well, try new foods, cook a new dish, read magazines about hobbies you are not familiar with or go to activities that you’ve never experienced. You could walk through a grocery store that focuses on Asian foods or attend a play in the park. New experiences can create interest and involvement and replace the sense that you’ve done it all. Your sense of aliveness and happiness can be stimulated by being a little out of your comfort zone. You’ve seen children who look at the world with curiosity and fascination. It’s all so new to them. You can keep some of that wonder when you seek out new experiences.
When you think about doing something new and different, there’s often a sense of inertia that sets in. You give yourself all sorts of excuses to stay put in your house and do exactly what you did yesterday and the day before and the day before that. You tell yourself it’s too much trouble to find something new to do or that you probably won’t like going to the roller derby anyway so why bother staying up late and missing your bedtime? The negative self-talk can be very convincing, arguing that you’re too old to ride a camel and if you’ve been in one museum you’ve been in them all.
Engaging in new activities is a behavior that you can learn. Commit to creating new exepriences for yourself. If you have a friend who would join you, that can be helpful. Start with what you are just a little uncomfortable with and go from there. Get comfortable with that level and then move on. Make a list of activities you would be willing to do and commit to trying one a week for four months. Some you won’t like. That’s normal. Be sure to keep going. Creating interest and a feeling of being alive is worth the work.
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From Psych Central's World of Psychology:
Best of Our Blogs: July 23, 2013 | World of Psychology (July 23, 2013)
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Last reviewed: 22 Jul 2013