I chose the number seven because to be frank, it’s my favorite and “lucky” number. It feels familiar and comfortable, which I like. Engaging in things that are familiar and comfortable is great practice for our mental health, but so is trying something new…
1. IT CAUSES "STRESS"
Stress is anything that takes our body out of homeostasis, or complete balance. The systems within our body are always moving, and our external environment is continuously affecting us. So, fluctuation in and out of complete balance is normal, and healthy. Trying something new can elicit an array of emotions and physical sensations, sometimes several at once. If we’re able to experience this new thing in a supported way, hopefully both internally and externally, then the “stress” that comes with it can be very positive. Picture this; you’re about to hold a puppy for the first time. You feel a bit hesitant because the puppy is small and seems fragile, you don’t want to hurt it! But, you’re on a mission to step out of your comfort zone and try something new, so you take a deep breath and pick up the puppy, instinctively holding it close to your body so it feels secure. The puppy licks your face and you laugh. You feel amazing. Your sympathetic nervous system was activated for a minute, and happy chemicals were released into your body. That’s stress! And, now you own a puppy…
2. IT'S GOOD FOR YOUR BRAIN
Our brains have something called Plasticity, which means they have the ability to change over time, and to learn new things. The more we do something in the same way, the more that pattern becomes hard-wired in our brains. So, if we’re stuck in a certain pattern, or want to change how we feel, we have to try something new. It will take more than just one time if we really want to change that hard-wired pattern, but it can be done! The more we try the new thing, the more those new neurons fire, and make that new thing easier to do!
3. IT FEELS GOOD TO MAKE A CHOICE
Whether we’re scared or not to try the thing we’ve been thinking about trying, doesn’t it feel good to make that choice to do it? Either way, you chose to do something new, and you reap the benefits of that. Let’s say you’ve always thought about taking a dance class because it looks like fun, and in your head you can do all of the moves. But, you’ve never tried it for fear that your body won’t actually do what’s in your mind. A few things could happen; you could go and be able to keep up and have fun, you could go and not be able to keep up and laugh at yourself and have fun, you could go and not enjoy it and realize that it’s not for you, or you could choose to never try it and never know. I guess the argument is that whether it turns out to be what you expected or not, you chose to do something that a part of you needed to try. And maybe for you, the new thing you’re trying is to be ok with not doing something, and to be ok with not knowing…
4. IT GIVES YOU A NEW PERSPECTIVE
No matter how much experience and education one has, there’s always room to learn, grow, and understand a new perspective. It is such a mentally healthy practice to make an effort to step back and think, “how is this person’s experience different from mine?” Or, “what is my judgment about trying this new thing, and where does that come from?”
5. SOMETIMES THERE'S JOY ON THE OTHER SIDE
Joy just isn’t talked about enough. We receive countless messages of the worst-case scenario, and reasons to not do things. Too expensive, too much work, not enough time. But, would it be worth it if there were joy on the other side? This can be as easy as a shift in attitude, and voila, joy. And, it can feel like the hardest thing in the world, but you know it’s the right path, and then one day it’s not as hard, and that’s joy. Being able to experience a range of emotions is normal and healthy, and joy should be one of them. There’s probably some amount of joy that can be found in most experiences if we are open ourselves to it.
6. OTHERS ARE WATCHING
Whatever we put our energy towards grows, and affects those around us whether it is our intention or not. When we make a habit of using our energy for things that we find joy in; that challenge us, teach us, and keep us well, it helps others do the same. Our kids, parents, friends, even strangers, are watching.
7. IT MIGHT WORK
If something’s not working, especially with regard to our health, why do we keep doing it? Because even though we are in pain, or notice a change in our health, it’s more comfortable to do what we’ve always done, or to take care of others first and leave no time or resources for our ourselves. Or, we might be afraid to admit that something isn’t right. It might be something that we’re embarrassed to tell our family or healthcare provider about. What if we endured the discomfort long enough to allow someone to help us? What if the new thing we try actually works, and we feel better?