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Varying Experiences

 

Techniques Happiness > Varying Experiences

Description | Discussion | See also

 

Description

Do different things. Try experiences you have not tried before. Go ballooning. Learn ballroom dancing. Read a type of book you have not read before. Travel. Meet new people.

When you experience new things, sometimes it will be worrying at first and sometimes you will not want to continue. So decide whether it is worth another go or two, then either try again or switch again.

A good sign of when to move on is when you get bored or tense. When you try a new sport and it starts getting competitive and you get cross when you lose, then bail out and find something that is fun again.

Of course you should be careful with the risks. Jumping off a bridge may be fun on the way down, but water gets terribly hard at terminal velocities.

Discussion

When you do new things, you may be surprised by what you find and challenged to make the best of the situation as you seek to learn and understand.

Experiencing includes learning, which is something the brain rewards well. It also gives the buzz of excitement and maybe some fear as it revels in the stimulation of uncertainty. Even if an experience is negative, talking later about it in a more accepting and positive way can dull the negativity and help us learn and make it more positive.

Experiences provide arousal, extend our sense of identity, give us a wider sense of control and otherwise contribute to a wide range of needs. Shared experiences help us connect with others and so get closer to them and build better friendships. They are also good for nostalgic reminiscences in later years ('Do you remember when...').

Trying new experiences also lets you find the things you like and do not like so much. As a result, you can have a part of your life doing things you have found you like doing often and another part to find even more interesting and enjoyable things. Particularly when experiences are unique (as many are), the numbing effects of adaptation are less significant.

Experiences are also better for happiness when we compare ourselves with other people and feel happier when we are superior in some way. Comparing material things is relatively easy, but as experiences are so personal, it is more difficult to compare negatively with others (and so harder to feel less happy because others have 'more' than us).

See also

Sensory hedonism,

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