Why You Should Try New Things

So much happens just outside of your comfort zone. Go there.

SUP yoga is just one activity you can try at a Wanderlust Festival. Try something new and join us this summer!

When was the last time you tried something new?

Trying new things can be undoubtedly daunting. The unfamiliar makes us nervous in a way that’s hard to describe. The act of leaving our comfort zone puts us in a vulnerable position, and leaves us with an onslaught of questions running through our heads. We ask ourselves: “Should I be doing this? Can I do this? Do I look stupid? What am I doing!?” While it may not feel like it, this is normal—and it’s good.

All too often we let the fear of the unknown stop us. But pushing ourselves out of our comfort zones is actually good for us. Trying new things not only helps us to vanquish those fears, but it also allows us to expand our minds and learn—both about said new thing, and about ourselves.

And then there’s the rush. There’s nothing quite like—or as memorable as—the thrill of a new experience. In fact, as reported by TIME in speaking with psychologist Rich Walker, who looked at countless event memories: “People who engage in a variety of experiences are more likely to retain positive emotions and minimize negative ones than people who have fewer experiences.”

Now, we’re not saying you have to jump out of a plane or try your hand at a flying trapeze just to have a new experience (though we wouldn’t discourage it). Of course, getting out of your comfort zone doesn’t mean you have to reach heights thousands of feet off the ground. Though, to be honest, trying something that’s foreign to you might just make you feel like you’re high in the sky anyway.

You could always start with some “flying” a bit closer to Earth with an activity like AcroYoga. Or learning something new that you’ve always wanted to try—like how to play the ukulele or doing an inversion—could be a great (and not as scary) place to start. On top of being memorable and giving us a thrill filled with often positive emotions, there are also some real health benefits that can come from trying new things in an effort to live our lives to the fullest.

In an article for CNN, cognitive psychologist Gary Marcus writes about the benefits of learning and trying new things, and the positive impact it has on our personal growth as well as our health. According to Marcus:

As Aristotle realized, there is a difference between the pleasures of the moment (hedonia), and the satisfaction that comes from constantly developing and living one’s life to the fullest (eudaimonia). In recent years, scientists have finally begun to study eudaimonia. Research suggests that the greater sense of purpose and personal growth associated with eudaimonia correlates with lower cortisol levels, better immune function, and more efficient sleep.

Enhancing experiences that already make you happy by putting a new spin on them is another way to try something “new” in a less intimidating form. Switching things up can help to keep you inspired and motivated. Because, let’s be honest, it can be quite dull and uneventful following the same monotonous routine day in and day out.

Take your exercise routine for example… When was the last time you got off the sedentary bike and hit the pavement? Dr. Jordan Metzl, a sports medicine physician at New York’s Hospital for Special Surgery, told Wall Street Journal: “Trying something new that shakes up your routine can really give you a fresh perspective and get you excited.”

With the summer weather rolling in, put that gym membership aside and opt outside to give your workout routine the refresher that it needs. Take to the water and give SUP yoga a try. If you’re a lover of yoga and you’ve been looking to expand your yogi community, join the masses at an outdoor meetup in nature or head to a festival.

The possibilities are absolutely endless when it comes to trying something new, and whether it’s a big or small leap outside your comfort zone you’ll still reap the benefits. So join a group, go on a solo adventure, meet new people, learn a new skill, broaden your horizons, and give your soul a boost.

Maggie Peikon bio2Maggie Peikon is a New York native, writer, and sufferer of insatiable wanderlust. An avid endorphin seeker she has a constant need to be moving, seeking adventure in all she does. She is a lover of travel, daydreaming, fitness, thunderstorms, and her dog, Finley. Despite the fact that she has to take medication daily due to a thyroidectomy, Maggie still believes that laughter will always be the best medicine. Follow her musings on Instagram and Twitter.