How to Try New Things (And Actually Enjoy Them)

We all know the story: your mom or dad put some gross looking thing on your dinner plate, and before they can put it down and say “Try it”, the words “Yuck! There’s no way I’m eating that!” have already escaped your mouth.  So some parents will give in after a few prods and make you something else.  Other parents (like mine) say that it’s all we have for dinner; it’s eat it or nothing. So of course I’d always give in, making grimacing faces with every bite. Once it’s all gone your parents ask if you liked it, and of course you respond “Blech! I knew it would be horrible.” Your parents shake their heads,  look at each other,  and say “oh well.”

The story is a classic one.  We,  as human beings,  hate change.  It’s scary,  it’s difficult,  and sometimes it means admitting you are wrong– and how could we possibly admit that? Try that new restaurant?  No way.  Want to go to this show? I hate that kind of music. want to go to this exhibit?  Boring!

Do we really hate all those things? Or are we really just saying no because we’re afraid to be wrong,  admit someone else was right,  or most likely, because we’ve stopped being curious about the world around us. We’ve stopped actively experiencing our world and resign ourselves to other people’s views and opinions without testing it out ourselves. Your religion is wrong because this book said so. I can’t watch that movie because it got bad reviews.  I’m definitely not going to like it, none of my friends do (or are afraid to admit that they do).

We’ve stopped seeing through this thing a friend of mine referred to as “the lens of opportunity.” We’ve closed our minds to endless possibility. We accept things as they are and refuse to see them any other way. Luckily, a select few in this world refuse to accept the status quo. They’ll travel the world,  devote their lives to research,  they’ll eat that pig’s eye because why the heck not?

The truth is, we have 3 options along a continuum of mindsets:

1. Resign yourself to close mindedness
2. Give it the benefit of the doubt
3. Actively explore the world

Be close minded

It’s the easiest,  but the least rewarding.  You can take no risks and do things the way you’ve always done (which may end up being the biggest risk of all). What’s the definition of insanity again– doing the thing you’ve always done and expecting different results? You don’t like it, you’ll never like it, and you’ll never try it.

Be a benefit-of-the-doubter

Now most lists won’t include this one, but I have to, because everyone knows that’s who I am. I don’t always lead the charge to something new, but I always respond to negative comments of “it’s going to be terrible” with “Yeah, but it also might be great!” We try to keep an open mind, but aren’t quite willing to try anything.

The explorers

These are my favorite people to associate with.  They emit positivity and opportunity wherever they go, and are willing to try anything once (or multiple times) to see if they’ll like it. Every child status out trying to experience everything they possibly can. They’ll keep eating that lemon no matter how sour it tastes- they’ll figure it out somehow. This is my brother,  whose face lit up the first time he tried horseradish straight – and he loved it. Now he’s the most adventurous eater I know.  These are the people who travel the world,  who talk to strangers,  and are the first people try something new.

Now we’re probably thinking,  what’s wrong with those people?  Why do they keep trying new things?  Do they really like everything they try? Do they have such a high success rate with liking the things they try that they just keep doing it? Do I really have that low a success rate that I hate the idea of something new? The truth is we’re not all that different.  The only thing keeping us apart is controllable.  How will you choose to see the world?  Will you close your mind to anything new, or will you go into each challenge thinking “This will be awesome?” Because whether or not you actually like it,  you’ll love the experience of trying it.

So try something new today.  Even if you hate doing it, try to love it. Try to take every bit of the experience and cherish it. Because who knows,  you might learn to love it. Or if you don’t love this thing,  you might love the next one. And that will be the greatest reward.