Is it possible to live a more interesting life? How much can we really change our storyline? Is there any way to will the proverbial wheel out of the rut?
These are old questions, universal questions. We each ask ourselves versions of these questions all the time.
These days, the self-help gurus are churning out flavor-of-the-month answers by the minute, but their answers--let's be honest--never seem to silence the questions. They just keep coming . . . and coming.
So maybe it's time to approach these questions differently. Maybe the answer is closer at hand than we think.
Consider this: They say that time flies when you’re having fun. To a certain extent, this is true. In the moment, an enjoyable day off does seem to “fly by” whereas a day sitting in traffic seems to drag.
But what happens when we think back on those experiences?
Does the boring memory of the traffic jam still feel as if it happened slowly? Does the enjoyable day off still feel as if it passed by at light speed? The answer is mostly dependent on one crucial detail—novelty.
Neurologists now know that our brain processes and then remembers novel experience differently from run-of-the-mill experiences.
Novel experiences, like car crashes and first kisses, return to us with granular detail, and—crucially—are stored in our memories as slow-mo, high-def vignettes. A routine traffic jam, on the other hand, forms a memory with no detail; we recall it as a compressed, bland snippet.
Why is this important? Our memories, to a large degree, define our identity. Collectively, our memories get molded into the story that we tell others and ourselves. This is a fundamental part of being human.
If our identity is largely the sum-total of our memories, then we should do everything in our power to live an adventurous life that invites rich slow-mo, high-def memories. In other words, if you want your life’s story to feel vibrant and meaningful (and who doesn’t?) the trick isn’t fame or money or status. The trick is far simpler: New foods. New ideas. New challenges. New people. New experiences. In short, never stop introducing yourself to novelty.
"We should do everything in our power to live an adventurous life that invites rich slow-mo, high-def memories."
The better you understand the power of novelty and how it effects your sense of self, the more you’re empowered to create yourself intentionally.