As some of my regular readers may recall, I spent some time a year or two ago challenging myself to attack things outside my comfort zone, and for the most part, I found that I felt a great sense of accomplishment after doing so. I found that some things were actually fun after I passed the fear threshold (making the video for my class reunion) and others were still a bit too scary for me (riding the Seadoo alone). I discovered that I could push myself a bit at the gym or in Pilates, but some injuries resulted, and I’m reconciled to never being a hard body.(As if I have ever been since ninth grade!)
I struggle on a daily basis with Walker III who NEVER wants anything to change to such an extent that for years he never wanted to watch a movie or TV show he had never seen before. This summer we dragged him, not exactly kicking and screaming, but reluctant, to see The Way, Way Back with us and had a great afternoon and evening out. He found enough familiar about it that he relaxed and enjoyed it after a few minutes and even opened up and talked about it during dinner. Just getting up the courage to try is always the hard part for all of us.
As we age it’s really easy to settle into our favorite chair with our favorite comfy clothes and watch channels on television that we agree with and read books and newspapers that reflect what we already believe. That, my friends, is a recipe for sinking quickly into the quicksand of being really, really old. Instead of watching re-runs of favorite shows, why not tune in something totally new and different for at least thirty minutes a day. Yes, you may be shocked at the language, but you also may also get a belly laugh or two. (Try The Big Bang Theory for a start or Two Broke Girls or Modern Family.) Read an article from the New York Times or The Washington Post or listen to the news from PBS instead of the network you usually do.
Go to shopping center or a park or a museum or art gallery in a neighborhood you never visit, and just browse. Get someone to show you how to use a new machine at the gym, or just get on the big swings at the park and play like a kid again.
I’m about to spend a week at the beach with my daughters who are all enthusiastic about a Paleo (caveman) diet. It doesn’t particularly appeal to me, and I’ve been almost as balky as Walker about getting with the program, but it won’t hurt me to taste some new and different things…some of them I’ve tried have been good, others not so much. (Spoiler alert….I will probably stash some treats for the kids and me!)
It’s helpful if you have friends who explore new frontiers, or children that drag you kicking and screaming into them, but anyone can make a conscious decision to try something new at least once a month. All those things make those little synapses in your brain fire in a more excited fashion and form new and different connections and that keeps them ALIVE!!!! That’s the point.