How to Open Your Mind to New Experiences*

How to Open Your Mind to New Experiences*

Getting older does not mean we have to take fewer adventures or live life in a repetitive cycle. In fact, opening your mind to new experiences will help you lead a meaningful and fulfilling life filled with exciting new thoughts, ideas, and events.

It is important to understand why we tend to stay within our comfort zones as we grow older. From childhood to early adulthood, the only constant we depend on is the change that occurs year to year – we move up from each grade, change schools, and change cities as we search for ourselves. However, as we settle into adulthood, we often find ourselves creating routines and habits where we find comfort.

These routines and habits can be as small as taking the same drive to work everyday, going to the same restaurant each week, or repeating a vacation destination each year. As we settle more deeply into these habits and routines, each piece becomes a part of the puzzle that creates our comfort zone. Remember - there is nothing inherently wrong with our comfort zones, and it is healthy to have safe spaces in our lives. However, it is important to keep in mind that growth will never take place within this comfort zone.

Here are some tips for keeping yourself open to new experiences, thoughts, and ideas:

Focus on building positive habits instead of working to remove negative ones. Neurologist Donald Hebb stated, “Neurons that fire together, wire together” to describe how pathways in the brain are formed and reinforced by repetition. Instead of scolding yourself for negative behavior or thoughts, try focusing on the positive habits you want to implement. The more positive thoughts you nurture, the more likely you are to create positive habits! Thoughts that fire together, wire together!

Avoid closing yourself off to unfamiliar situations. Exposing yourself to new experiences allows you to meet people and go to places that can expand your thoughts and opinions. Instead of closing yourself to things that seem uncomfortable, try to push yourself to view new encounters as a learning experience to discover something new about yourself.

Don’t be afraid to ask questions. Sometimes the only way to learn more about a situation and keep an open mind is to ask plenty of questions to gain a better understanding. If someone is willing to share information, try showing an active willingness to listen. If you aren't sure how to ask questions, check out this article by the Harvard Business Review.

Don’t restrict yourself. Do you find yourself thinking you can’t do something? Are you looking at things you are interested in, but tell yourself “That isn’t me”? Each of these thoughts limit your opportunities! Open the door for yourself and your world by breaking down barriers of what you believe you can do, create, experience, feel, or learn.

It is never too late to take on new adventures and discover new aspects of yourself. If you have anxieties about new situations, you should still take these steps to grow. These changes are meant to be made slowly to give yourself an opportunity to settle into each change before implementing the next.

Challenge yourself to grow, and your mind will thank you!

Kellie O'Keefe
Kellie O'Keefe

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