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The Power of Trying New Things: Boost Happiness and Productivity

Updated: Jul 3, 2023



For today's challenge, try something new!


Why try something new?

“Studies suggest that people who engage in a variety of new experiences are more likely to retain positive emotions and minimize negative ones,”

Juan Pablo Zapata, clinical psychology resident in the Department of Psychiatry & Behavioral Sciences at UW School of Medicine


Why does trying new things make us happier?

  • It makes new neural pathways in the brain.

  • It releases dopamine in our brains which is the hormone connected with extreme pleasure. (Listen to this podcast from minute 9 to learn more about this connection and how to find the right mix of new things)

  • It opens up growth which leads to fulfillment and may expose you to something you enjoy doing that you didn't know about before.

  • It keeps you from being bored.

  • It helps you connect with others.

  • It lowers your cortisol levels.


How will this help you at work?

You can take on new responsibilities at work or even a new tool for doing an old task. However, even by developing a hobby outside of work, you will reduce your cortisol levels and be able to manage your work stress better. Additionally, it will simply make you a more interesting person to be around.


How can you do it?

  • Take a class in anything that strikes your fancy. You can try cooking, art, horseback riding, dancing, fencing, etc. You can also try an online course from a place like SkillShare, Udemy or Coursera.

  • Pick up a new hobby. (Pickelball!)

  • Try new foods.

  • Take a trip to someplace new.

It really doesn't matter what you try, but consider what has brought you joy in the past, and find something related. For example, do you feel more joy if do something physical, creative, or social, etc. Then find opportunities you can work into your schedule, and write it into your schedule. Classes are a good way for starting out because you will have an automatic commitment of both time and money. It's even better if you do it with someone for accountability since it can be a struggle to start something new. Commit to doing it for a certain amount of time. I think 6 months is reasonable to get over the struggle and decide if you are enjoying it. Less than that, you are still struggling to learn and may not see much improvement.


What new thing will you try today?

Download my free guide for ideas of ways to boost your activity and learn something new at the same time. Click on the image below to download.


Resources
  • “Trying New Things.” Psychology Today, 2019, www.psychologytoday.com/us/blog/happiness-in-world/201004/trying-new-things. Accessed 31 Aug. 2022.

  • Utah State University. “How Hobbies Improve Mental Health.” Usu.edu, 2021, extension.usu.edu/mentalhealth/articles/how-hobbies-improve-mental-health. Accessed 31 Aug. 2022.

  • Rodericks, Alison. “The Mental Health Benefits of Learning a New Skill.” Upskilled.edu.au, Upskilled, 2017, www.upskilled.edu.au/skillstalk/mental-health-benefits-learning-new-skill. Accessed 31 Aug. 2022.

  • “Try Something New in 2022.” Right as Rain by UW Medicine, RightAsRain, 4 Jan. 2022, rightasrain.uwmedicine.org/well/health/try-something-new. Accessed 31 Aug. 2022.


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