Novelty equals longevity (or, try new things)

Novelty equals longevity (or, try new things)

About a year back, I had an interesting conversation with a friend who told me about this idea of how if you fill your life with new experiences (novelty) – things you’ve never done before, places you’ve never been – time will seem to go more slowly (longevity). It’s something to do with how the brain processes new information, and it’s why our childhood feels so full at the time, and why adulthood seems to rush by in a routine of sameness.

This concept really inspired me, as I’ve been facing the odd existential crisis now and then, since turning 40. Can we really make our lives feel longer by experiencing new things? Does novelty equal longevity? I think it does, and I want to give you an example from my own life.

Some background: up until this revelation, I’d seen the years zip by, and I’d listened to my parents bemoan how fast the time goes as you get older. I’d felt like there was no time in the day and that life was already spinning towards its inevitable end. But, after having this conversation with my friend, I set out to see if I could change that.

Last year, with the idea of novelty equalling longevity forefront in my mind, I did a LOT. I saw concerts and shows, went aurora chasing, learned some new languages (well enough to get by anyway), went on an action-packed holiday in Croatia and Greece, started this blog, caught up with old friends and made new ones, went ice skating, started point hacking, did a couple of timed book editing challenges, made lots of sauces and preserves, dyed my hair crazy colours a bunch of times, played D&D and board games, saw a heap of movies at the cinema (including rescreenings of old ones), danced in a flash mob, gave blood for the first time, turned 40 and had a unicorn party, undertook my annual PAX sojourn, and embarked on a program to reduce my plastic usage. And then there were all the games I played and TV shows I watched, and just general having a good time with friends and family. I really tried to pursue adventures even if I couldn’t be bothered, or was a bit tired, or it was a work night. I stuffed a lot in to the year, and what a great year it was!

Guess what happened. For once, I found myself looking back and NOT thinking “where did all that time go” because I can absolutely see where it went – in adventures and activities and living life. All those new experiences really did make the year seem longer and more full!

My 2018 is looking good for new experiences too. So far, I’ve met my new niece, started a new job, went up the coast with friends I’d never travelled with before, ticked off a bucket list bushwalk, started an Instagram for my cats (don’t judge me haha), donated blood again, went on a lunar eclipse photo expedition, visited my Dad’s property, got a new camera lens to try out, and experienced the Qantas lounge for the first time. I also have lots of adventures still on the horizon to look forward to: a trip to Adelaide and Kangaroo Island (never been before), Celine Dion in concert, another book editing challenge (or two), PAX (now combined with EB Expo!), and a fancy business class trip to Japan to see some regions I’ve not seen (courtesy of last year’s point hacking efforts). There will be plenty of other activities to slot in on weekends too as I want to get back into bushwalking and photographing waterfalls. Some of these are things I have experienced before but they are not my usual day-to-day activities, so I can consider them novel.

And so, if you feel life rushing by and you don’t want that to keep happening, I put this challenge to you: fill your days with new and novel things and see how that makes you feel. Try something you’ve not done before – even something small, like a new craft project, or making bread for the first time, or learning a swear word in another language. Now, go somewhere new – a new walk in the wilderness, a shop you haven’t visited, a holiday to a different state or country. Make plans for new things and enjoy the feeling of a full and long year. I’ll be sure to check back in with you come January.

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