Experience the New - 40 Things I've Learnt in 40 Years

Experience the New - 40 Things I've Learnt in 40 Years

I've heard people say you should try something new everyday. I've never been good at keeping track of that, or, more importantly, making that happen. I do, however, try to have a totally new experience every month. This month, I want to learn scuba diving - thank goodness for options like Groupon and LivingSocial. Last month, I went parasailing. Again. I'd love to go swimming with sharks.

Ever wondered why as you grow older, time seems to go faster and faster? A very interesting correlation has been found between having new experiences - or the lack thereof - and one's perception of the passage of time. When you surround yourself with the familiar and remain within your comfort zone, the brain doesn't need to do much work. It quickly processes the information and moves on. When new information is received, it has to process the new information, which slows it down - and slows down your perception of time. A quote from David Eagleman, a neuroscientist who studies the effects of the brain's perception of time summarizes it well:

"The more familiar the world becomes, the less information your brain writes down, and the more quickly time seems to pass. "Time is this rubbery thing...it stretches out when you really turn your brain resources on, and when you say, ‘Oh, I got this, everything is as expected,' it shrinks up."

(I recommend Adam Dachis' post: Why New Experiences Are Important and How They Positively Affect Your Perception of Time for a short read, but if you have time you will find The Possibilian, a profile of David Eagleman extremely fascinating.)

A new experience doesn't have to be some dramatic new event that shakes your world in ways you never thought possible. It could be driving down a road in a direction you've never explored before; trying a cuisine that you haven't thought to try before; attending a class to learn something new, trying a crossword puzzle, or walking on the treadmill backwards! Actually, a simple action like walking backwards can help improve your memory skills...go figure.

So go on and try something new and get grip on the reins of time. And while you're at it, remember to enjoy the experience. Go ahead!