Some people say that the biggest enemy of happiness is the hedonic treadmill. This term explains how we humans are quick to adapt to any changes in our lives, and that a similar subsequent change has a diminishing impact.
For example, if I take a hot bath today, I'll probably enjoy it a lot. But when I take the same hot bath tomorrow, I will like it a lot less.
In this article, I'll show you over 15 actionable new things you can try, that have made other people's lives happier. Trying new things is the best way to counter the feeling of diminishing happiness. I've collected tips and examples from a lot of people I've met over the years, so there's bound to be something you can try yourself in order to be happier tomorrow!
And hey, just to be clear: the point of this article is to inspire you. Go out there and try something new. You'll thank yourself later, when you find out that this new thing you tried one day is now one of your dearest hobbies!
- Why you need to try new things on a regular basis
- List of new things to try when you want to be happier
- Treat yourself to a massage!
- Go skydiving
- Sign up for a running race
- Go Marie Kondo on your closet
- Compliment a stranger out of the blue
- Delete your social media from your smartphone
- Join an oil-painting workshop
- Visit a music festival (alone!)
- Join a boxing class
- Go vegetarian (or vegan) for a week
- Go on a long walk through the woods
- Learn how to solve a Rubik's cube
- Visit the biggest tourist attraction in your area
- Try seeing a therapist
- Pick up something you used to love as a kid
- Start a diary
- Teach yourself how to knit
- Volunteer in your community
- Try 50 new things before turning 51!
- Spend an afternoon picking up litter
- Cook a great meal for your friends or family
- Track your happiness for a day
- Closing words
Why you need to try new things on a regular basis
Because you can be happier.
That might be a bold assumption, but it makes sense to me as you are currently reading the biggest guide about how to be happy.
A big piece of advice that a lot of people are not willing to take seriously is to try something you've never done before. I find this mind-boggling. How can you expect a change in your happiness by not changing any of the things that you do?
Think about it: whatever you've been doing until now has not resulted in you becoming any happier. You thought you were happy, yet here you are, reading an article after searching Google for new things to try.
Well, then doesn't it sound pretty logical that you need to do something that you've never done before? Something that would make others say: "uuuuuuh, what now?" Think outside the box here. What is something that you would like to do but never tried?
I want you to forget about the reasons why you shouldn't do these new things. There are always reasons to not do something. You have to push through this mental obstacle.
List of new things to try when you want to be happier
Without further ado, let's dive into the list of new things you can try today. This list is a combination of things I've tried myself over the years, but also the things that others came up with after asking them about it. This way, you'll not just get a list of new things to try that only I would like. Instead, this is a diverse and complete list of ideas that covers all ages, interests, and capacities!
Oh, and by the way, this list is unordered and unsorted!
Here we go!
Treat yourself to a massage!
A year ago, my girlfriend forced me to go to a spa for a full day. Part of this spa day would be a massage. It would be great, she said! I wondered whether or not I would even enjoy it.
She was right (as always).
I loved the massage, and now get one whenever I feel stressed out and need a moment for myself.
Getting a professional massage is a great way to treat or reward yourself, which will also boost your mood. Additionally, massages can increase serotonin, another mood-boosting neurotransmitter, and lower stress hormone levels. Depending on where you live and what kind of massage you are going for, it can be an extravagance and may cost a little. However, the benefits are undeniable and it’s definitely a simple and easy way to add some positivity to your life.
This one is a no-brainer, to be honest. I think this is one of the most obvious new things to try when you want to spice up your life.
Skydiving is such an insane experience. I mean, jumping out of a freaking plane and falling down the earth at terminal speed is not something you do every day.
I went skydiving once when I was traveling the South Island of New Zealand, and it was truly a bizarre experience. I could write an entire article about just this experience alone, but let's leave that for now.
If you're looking to try something new and want to do something extreme, you might want to consider jumping out of a freaking plane. That'll surely trigger something and make you happy. 😉
Sign up for a running race
This one comes from Emily Morisson, who told me she discovered her "Zena-road-warrior princess" after she last tried something new! This statement needs some explaining, so I'll let her do the talking!
Let me explain. As a working mom to two small children, I felt frumpy and lumpy and nothing like I did before I had kids. I had no time or money for a gym membership and a growing hatred of all the mannequins in the mall. Who were these size-zero plastic perky boob people, and why did retailers put them in all their stores?
One day I asked my husband, do I still look attractive to you? and he told me, Yeah! You're cute for a mom. You see it, right? For a mom...
I bought a pair of sneakers and started running five slow laps in a our tenth-of-a-mile driveway the next day. I could do one mile in fourteen minutes. Every day for a solid year I kept adding one more lap on to my run. Now I was doing two miles, three miles, four miles. Then I took my show on the road.
Before my second year running was up, I'd signed up for my first half-marathon. It went well. Another child came along and when the doctor okayed me for exercise, I went right back to the driveway and started all over again.
Today, I've run four full-marathons and eight half-marathons. When I started out on this quest for fitness and fabulousness, I thought I was doing it for my husband, for my kids, for all of these other people in my life to be proud of me. Now, looking back on my journey and the thousands of miles I've logged on the road, I realize it was never about making others proud of me -- it was always about making me proud of me.
And I'm so proud.
Go Marie Kondo on your closet
Mindfulness has lots of positive correlations to happiness, as discussed in this article. And what better way to embrace mindfulness and minimalism is there than to clear out your closet of all your mess?
I did this recently and felt extremely satisfied afterward. I threw away stuff that I didn't even know I had and my closet was neat and tidy again. As a result, my mind was clear and I was feeling satisfied and happy for the rest of the day!
A boring afternoon is a perfect time to sort out your closets and cupboards and let go of the things you don’t need anymore. You can use the KonMari method or develop your own, as long as you’re letting go of your old stuff.
Compliment a stranger out of the blue
This one is actually a funny story.
I once went for a run on a Sunday, which is something I typically do on my weekends. Then suddenly, out of nowhere, an old man passes me on his bicycle and shouts at me:
You have a great running form! Keep it going, keep it going!!!
I'm absolutely flabbergasted at this point. I mean, do I even know this guy?
A split second later, I decide that I don't, and I thank him for his words of encouragement. He actually slows down a bit, and allows me to catch up with him, and gives me tips on my breathing:
Quickly inhale through the nose, and slowly exhale through your mouth. Keep it up, you're looking good!
After 10 seconds, he takes a turn and shouts goodbye. I complete the rest of my run with a gigantic smile on my face.
Why did this guy strike up a conversation with me? Why did he spend his energy and time complimenting me? What was in it for him?
I still don't know, but I do know that the world needs more people like this! Happiness is contagious, and if more people would be like this, the world would be a happier place!
Want to try something new? Strike up a conversation with a stranger. Or give a compliment to someone out of the blue. Or be an old man on a bicycle and compliment joggers whenever you pass them! 🙂
Yes. It's been discussed a lot recently how social media detoxing can have a positive influence on your life. This can actually be a great way to try something new for yourself.
I mean, don't you feel lazy when you finished scrolling through your Facebook or Instagram feed, only to find out that another meaningless hour of your life went by? After experiencing this feeling once too many, I decided to delete Facebook from my phone.
Nothing happened... In a good way! I can still check my Facebook profile whenever I need to on my laptop, but I'm never tempted again to just mindlessly scroll through the endless feed without feeling any better because of it.
Join an oil-painting workshop
This one comes from Jacqueline Lewis, author of the book Life Begins at the End of Your Comfort Zone. She shared her experience of painting her first canvas with me:
Last year I picked up oil painting for the first time and painted a portrait of John Tillar. It was accepted into The Souls Shot exhibit which pairs fine artists with families who lost someone to gun violence. The painting commemorates the beautiful lives lived while illustrating the cumulative losses. (John was murdered at age 25).
The painting process took me outside of my comfort zone. The pressure of painting an actual beloved person was especially daunting. I was frustrated by my limited talent and skills. Working through that frustration -and the joy and flow of the creative process itself - was invigorating. It made me lighter and more confident. It made me want to try other new things.
Funnily enough, I actually gave this a shot myself as well! On a sunny day, in April 2016, I joined a Bob Ross painting workshop without ever having painted on a canvas before.
As a kid, I used to watch Bob Ross painting on the television, and I absolutely loved the shows. At the end of the last month, I found out that the official channel of Bob Ross was uploading every single episode of the show to YouTube. Fantastic!
I watched a ton of these episodes. I mean, I absolutely devoured them. Not only was Bob Ross a fantastic person to listen to, but he also made painting look extremely easy. So I wanted to give it a try as well!
So I joined a painting class near Rotterdam and attempted to create a typical Bob Ross painting of a picturesque landscape. You can see how I did in the animation below. ?
Visit a music festival (alone!)
This next new thing to try comes from Michelle Montoro, who was quick to give me her answer! I asked her "when did you last try something new?" and her answer is really simple and inspirational in my opinion.
Michelle is a writer and blogs at Shelbee On The Edge. This is her answer:
I am 45 years old and have been trying so many new things this summer as part of my own mission to living a fuller, happier life before it’s too late. A few weeks ago, there was a music festival that I really wanted to attend a few hours from my home. After asking multiple friends and acquaintances to join me and having no takers, I decided I should go by myself. I was utterly terrified. And excited. And so empowered by doing such a thing.
I have gone to events alone before like the movies or out to a restaurant. But this time I was traveling hours away from home and spending the night camping in my car at a festival with a bunch of strangers.
I was met with so much kindness by the festival coordinators as well as the other attendees. I got up and danced at the front of the stage by myself (also a first...I have never before danced in public!). And I left in the morning with a whole new group of festival friends!
This influenced my life in the most positive way as I no longer allow fear to keep me from doing the things I want to do. If I sit around and wait for others to join me in the fun, I will miss all the fun. So I have been traveling all around this summer and having the time of my life.
Trying new things has become a way of life for me going forward. We can’t experience our best lives without stepping outside of our comfort zones.
Join a boxing class
This idea actually came from my girlfriend. While writing this article, I asked her about something new that she tried last year that had a great influence on her life. Her answer: joining a boxing class.
Was she nervous about being in a gym full of experienced people twice her size? Hell yeah, but she went for it anyway.
The result? She now goes twice a week and loves it. That's how trying something new - even if it seems really strange at first - can have a huge positive influence on your life!
Go vegetarian (or vegan) for a week
If you're already vegetarian or vegan, then you can probably attest to this tip.
Trying new things in your life doesn't mean that the new thing has to be a single activity. It can also be a challenge. In this case, I want to share a personal example of a challenge.
My girlfriend is vegetarian, and once challenged me to join her for a week. That meant no meat of any kind for a full week.
- I tried a lots of new food that I had not considered before!
- We cooked amazing meals together.
- After the week was over, I didn't even notice how easy it was to be vegetarian.
In this case, trying something new resulted in me embracing a more sustainable lifestyle since I'm now also a vegetarian! A simple 1-week-challenge like this had a profound and positive influence on my life. 🙂
Go on a long walk through the woods
When was the last time you walked somewhere without actually needing to get there quickly?
Can you even remember the last time?
This is another fun example of how trying something new one day has consistently resulted in happiness in my life. You see, on a sunny day, right after we moved into our new apartment together, my girlfriend and I decided to "just go for a walk". The destination? Nowhere in particular, we just wanted to be outside and enjoy the weather.
It not only turns out that my girlfriend and I LOVE walking, we also love:
- The sense of freedom it provides.
- It allows you to empty your mind, and to get rid of the stress that's accumulated over the day.
- You get to have real conversations with each other, without any distractions.
- It's freaking healthy, both physically and mentally!
So if you can't remember the last time you just went out for a walk, do yourself a favor and try it out sometimes! 🙂
Learn how to solve a Rubik's cube
This might sound somewhat geeky - after all, I'm pretty sure that I'm considered a geek - but learning how to solve a Rubik's cube was a LOT of fun.
I don't know when exactly I decided to buy a Rubik's cube from Amazon, but a couple of years ago, I was just fascinated by this puzzle. This weird-looking cube seemed impossible to solve. Well, challenge accepted!
I spent hoouuuuurs watching YouTube tutorials on how to solve this stupid cube, but when I memorized it, it was a preeetty good feeling. In fact, I remember that I was really proud of myself that day!
That's really what this entire article comes down to. When trying something new, you don't necessarily have to limit yourself in thinking only about "big stuff". Learning how to solve a Rubik's cube can be just as life-changing as going skydiving! You never know how much you end up liking something, especially if you've never tried it!
Visit the biggest tourist attraction in your area
Here's a fun new thing to do:
- Open up Google Maps.
- Zoom out of your current location, until you're looking at a location that you can travel to within a day.
- Click the "Explore" button. On smartphones, this is right at the bottom left of your screen. On desktops, this is a small button at the far right bottom of your screen.
- Filter for "Attractions".
- Visit the biggest attraction within your area that you've not been to before!
What is the result? Are you excited to try something new and visit this attraction?
My personal result using this exact method is quite embarrassing:
I'm from the Netherlands, and I've never actually visited the world-famous Tullip Fields once in my life! How pathetic.
Next time, when I'm looking for something new to try (and the sun is out), I should probably pay a visit to one of the biggest tourist attractions in my home country! 🙂
What does this method result in for you? I'd love to hear what new things you've found that you can try today to be happier tomorrow!
Try seeing a therapist
Now, this one might seem out of place. But don't be fooled. Seeing a therapist might be just what you need if you're looking to become happier.
I got this answer from Emily, and her answer makes much more sense after reading the full story:
A year ago, I realized that I had depression and anxiety. I had dealt with this for a long time but always worried that I was overthinking my symptoms. This was exacerbated by the ending of a six-year-long relationship, starting a very difficult new job, and moving 16 hours from my friends and family.
I realized I had to do something when my physical health began being affected and my current relationship became threatened by my lack of coping mechanisms.
I took a day off from work when I emotionally could not go in and decided to make an online therapy appointment. I waited on the skype call for a sweaty, slow, nerve-wracking twenty minutes. I almost hung up multiple times but tried to think of future me and those I care about. The therapist ended up canceling due to some unmentioned reason and I wept for minutes, feeling completely deflated. Here I was, trying to change my life in such a difficult (albeit seemingly simple way) and I had been rejected by the one person who was supposed to help me. I sat at my desk, unshowered, in a fuzzy robe and cried. But then, I stopped, looked up and realized that nothing would change if I did not take a risk. I called an in-person clinic nearby and made an appointment. I nearly left while waiting for that one too, but the therapist came out and got me and it was
incredible. I cried during the entire consultation but left feeling more relieved than I had in almost two years. Just hearing someone say, you have depression, or, that's your anxiety talking, was more relief and validation than I could have ever imagined.
A few weeks later my family underwent a tragedy. I happened to have a therapy appointment the day I was set to go home and it got me through. Without the help of a mental health professional, I am not sure how I would have handled that entire week.
This experience has been beyond life-changing.
Pick up something you used to love as a kid
If you're like me, you had a hobby during your childhood that you eventually lost interest in. This could be anything, like:
- Playing the flute
- Climbing trees
- Making forts in your living room
- Writing stories
For me personally, that hobby was skateboarding.
I skated from age 7 to 13 but eventually lost interest. Well, just a couple of months ago, I finally decided to try it out again. In fact, I went to a local skatepark in July and spent the entire day trying to land kickflips.
Was it slightly embarrassing, as a 26-year-old (an "adult"), being amongst a handful of scooter kids that were barely 11-years old? You betcha.
But man, I had so much fun. In fact, ever since that first time at a skatepark, I quickly learned again how much I loved it in the first place. As I'm writing this, I'm still going back to that skatepark at least once a week, and it makes me extremely happy.
My point is not that you should go to a skatepark and start doing flips. No, but you should try to do something that you used to love but somehow lost interest in. You never know how much you'll love it without trying it again someday!
Here I am, trying to land my first 360 flip ever in my local skatepark.
Start a diary
Starting a diary is perhaps not the most exciting new thing to try. I mean, what could possibly happen when you start writing down words on a piece of paper?
I understand your concerns.
But I also want you to know that starting a diary might be the most influential tip on this entire list. It's certainly had an incredible influence on my life like you wouldn't believe!
How did I start writing a diary? I just decided someday that I wanted to try it, I bought a cheap empty journal and just wrote a page filled with my thoughts before going to bed that night.
And then the next day. And the next day. And the day after.
I cannot explain to you how much this simple habit has changed my life. It has allowed me to develop as a person, to learn exactly what I want, who I am, and who I want to be. It's also why I started this very website! You can learn about why I started journaling in this post.
Teach yourself how to knit
Teaching yourself any new skill can have a big influence on your life. For instance, Paige told me how she took a knitting class one day, and how it's had a big influence on her life. I've featured Paige, the founder of Mavens & Moguls before on the Happy Blog, and I really liked this answer of her as well:
I learned to knit 4 years ago when a group of girlfriends went to a spa for a getaway for our 50th birthdays and I took a class. I had so much fun that I took another class when I got home and have joined a regular group that meets every week. I¹ve knitted several things now and have met some great people. It has been a fun new hobby and has added a lot to my life.
I never had any interest in knitting before but I guess turning 50 made me curious about picking up a new skill and meeting new people. I highly recommend it.
Volunteer in your community
Most people see volunteering as a good and noble endeavor, but many are reluctant to actually volunteer. Our lives are busy as they are, so why should you spend your time and energy on something that doesn’t pay?
While volunteering may not pay in money, it does have other benefits that you don’t want to miss out on. Besides looking good on your resumé, volunteering can support both your physical and mental health, lower your stress levels and help you find new friends. And you don’t even have to devote your whole life to volunteering to reap those benefits, just a little of your time will do.
So next time you want to try something new, maybe go online and search for local volunteering communities that you can join!
Try 50 new things before turning 51!
I received this special answer from Linda Tapp. Instead of trying a single new thing once, she set out to try 50 new things before she turning 50 years old! Some of the things she tried were:
- Visiting a Buddhist temple
- Eating crickets
- Blowing glass
- Visiting the opera
- Taking a knife skills class
Here's her full answer to my question:
I love to try new things because I love change and I love learning. For my 50th birthday a few years ago, I made it my goal to try 50 new things before I turned 51. I was successful!
Now I am 54 and still hunting down new experiences, especially those that take me out of my comfort zone.
The last thing I tried new was paper flower making at a class offered through CraftJam in Soho (NYC). I am also about to try my first kickboxing class with my daughters. I have been wanting to ty kickboxing for a long time but because I heard how hard it is, and because I didn't want to go alone, I have been putting it off.
After trying something new, I do feel more confident and better about myself overall and I do think that every time I try something new, I am encouraged to try more new things (which I am always on the hunt for).
Spend an afternoon picking up litter
Here's a new term that you might not have heard before: detrashing.
What's detrashing? It's the act of voluntarily picking up trash. You might not know it, but there are thousands of people around the globe that spend days just picking up trash whenever they see it. Reddit has a community called Detrashed that currently counts over 80,000 members!
Why should you do this?
- It helps the planet.
- You WILL feel better about yourself, knowing that your actions have a positive influence on the world.
You may think "what does it matter if I pick up a piece of plastic here and there?" What I want you to consider is what if all people thought like that? If the entire population didn't care, then this world would most definitely turn into a giant shithole. However, if everybody embraced a mindset similar to that of the detrashing community, the world would be a much healthier, cleaner, and eco-friendly place to live in.
Don't know what to do during your day off? Bring an empty garbage bag and clean an area around your neighborhood! I promise you'll feel better when you're done.
Cook a great meal for your friends or family
If you’re like me, then some of your happiest moments were probably with friends or family. Why not combine this kind of social happiness with trying out something new?
Home-cooking a big meal is a great thing to try if you've never done it before. Home-cooked meals make us feel cared for and loved — two things that are known to have a big impact on our happiness. And healthy, quality food has been linked to happiness as well.
So get together your friends or loved ones, cook them something that will nourish the body and soul, and you’ll all reap the benefits.
Track your happiness for a day
I want to mention here that I've been tracking my happiness for almost 6 years now. What does this mean? It means I spend 2 minutes every day reflecting on my day:
- How happy was I on a scale from 1 to 10?
- What factors had a significant effect on my rating?
- I clear my head by jotting down all my thoughts in my happiness journal.
This allows me to constantly learn from my evolving life. It's how I purposefully steer my life in the best direction possible. And I believe you can do the same.
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That's it for now. I am aware that this list is nowhere near complete. But I hope the variety of this list has resulted in at least one new thing that you can try today in order to be happier tomorrow!
Either way, I'd love to hear your own stories! Tell me something new you've tried recently and share it in the comments below!