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We’ve all been there – on the brink of trying something new and not sure what to do.  Do we dive in? Do we worry about looking silly?  Do we turn away in fear?  It’s not just big things like hiking a mountain or flying or bungee jumping that can cause this panic.  It can be as seemingly simple as taking a new class or going to a new restaurant that causes this kind of panic. But we need to take that step and jump in. Here’s why trying new things is important.

Gives You Confidence

Building up confidence is important.  You try something new and you’re successful and that gives you the confidence to try something else.  By starting small and getting positive results, it encourages you to keep going and try more new things. Starting small can be as simple as trying a new recipe at home, which then leads to trying a new dish at your favorite restaurant, which leads to eating out at a new restaurant and maybe that leads you to a vacation where you can try authentic food in the country it was first created.  Each step builds upon the next step.  It’s possible that you might have failed at the first step of trying a new recipe at home, but you’re much more likely to keep trying that step than you would if you started with trying a new restaurant and you had a horrible experience.

In my 40’s, my girlfriend dragged me out hiking with her.  I wanted to go, but I was a smoker at the time and horrible at hiking because of it.  I might have stopped right then, but I wanted to do it and even though it was hard and even though my friends were doing harder trails and then doubling back to meet me, I kept at it.  Eventually, I stopped smoking and started hiking faster, went backpacking and also did several hut hikes in the White Mountains in New Hampshire.  I started small, made small victories, which built my confidence (and my fitness) and kept moving forward to the bigger challenges.  If I started by trying to hike up Mt. Washington first, I would have failed miserably and never gone back.

Your Brain Works Better

Learning new things changes your brain and it changes different parts of your brain…in good ways.  For instance, did you know that in the brains of someone who is bilingual, a different part of the brain, the left inferior parietal cortex, is larger than in those who only speak one language?  This makes sense because the left inferior parietal cortex is the part of the brain involved with language and mathematical computations.  The brain’s ability to change at any age is referred to as brain plasticity.  Pretty cool.  As long as your learning, the different parts of the brain associated with what your studying continue to grow.

Trying New Things Increases Your Happiness

You might not have realized it when you were in school, but we actually enjoy learning new things, especially if it’s something that we want to learn.  If you want to learn guitar and start taking lessons, then your desire to learn will help take you past the struggles of learning something new, past the feelings of “what am I doing?”  Then you’ll feel satisfaction in learning the new skill and you’ll also feel good when you think back on your ability to learn the guitar.

So what’s stopping you from getting out there and trying something new?

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