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A Key to Happiness: Why You Should Always Keep Growing Your Mind

Pushing yourself to try new things, big or small, can offer a lifetime of growth and happiness

Writer Emeri Callahan is on a quest to continue learning

There is a Darius Rucker song (remember him from Hootie & the Blowfish?) playing on country radio in recent weeks with the lyric “when was the last time you did something for the first time?”

While this may not be a groundbreaking question, it sure struck a chord inside me. I asked myself, when was the last time I really tried something completely new and different? I didn’t like the answer.

We tend to get so wrapped up in our day-to-day lives that by the time we unplug from work or finish our daily routines, our bodies and minds are on autopilot. I have personally been guilty of getting home on a weekday, putting a meal prep dinner in the microwave, turning on the TV, mindlessly scrolling through Instagram, and falling asleep, over and over again.

At what point does a comfortable routine turn into thoughtless complacency? I believe we too often mistake comfort with happiness. Happiness can also stem from growth, achievement, emotional connection, affection, culture, altruism, gratitude and success. None of those things will happen by watching television five nights a week with a microwavable meal on your lap.

Sail away in Marina Del Rey

After listening to that Darius Rucker song, I signed up for a week of beginner sailing lessons with the intention of simply learning a new skill … and I am so happy that I went through with it!

I had never even steered a sailboat before, but after a few days I was certified to captain a 22-foot sailboat and felt confident doing so. I realized that I missed the feeling of being challenged and frustrated at first by learning something completely new, and I missed the feeling of conquering it even more.

Get cooking

Right after completing the sailing course, I signed up for bartending and cooking lessons just to continue to learn new skills and grow. Why NOT dive into a subject that interests you, learn to speak on interesting topics in conversation with others, and build new neural connections in your brain?

There’s always a class to enroll in, podcast to listen to, book to read, or free webinar to take that will expand and engage your mind. If you need inspiration, see if any of the below pique your interest …

Try fun new things

  • Volunteer with a local organization or animal shelter
  • Go see a play, ballet or opera
  • Sign up for bartending classes
  • Learn to play guitar
  • Try your hand at an art class
  • Take a dance lesson
  • Learn the basics of a new language
  • Sign up for cooking classes
  • Read a book on a topic that interests you
  • Sign up for sailing lessons
  • Learn basic first aid skills
  • Listen to a podcast –  if you’re new to podcasts, I recommend The Tim Ferriss Show by the bestselling author of The 4-Hour Workweek.

Another idea to push yourself out of your comfort zone is to travel solo here are my top 5 reasons why every woman should travel on her own at least once in her lifetime.

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Written by Emeri Callahan

Emeri Callahan is a freelance travel, wellness and lifestyle writer who divides her time between San Diego, CA and San Juan, Puerto Rico. You can most likely find her planning her next trip or on the hunt for a veggie burrito.