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How to Change Your Life: Utilizing the Brain's Love of Novelty

Life is busy and hectic at times, isn't it!? We can feel like we're on a nonstop treadmill rather than truly living. Most people I coach initially feel like they don't have time to change their life, let alone make it through their to-do list. It can seem daunting, requiring time, effort, and energy they just don't have. Ever feel like that?

What if I told you that the key to change and revitalizing your life is as simple as making tiny, micros-changes?

Estimated reading: 4 minutes

A young woman hiking in a state park to commune with nature.Yep, just taking small, targeted actions can spark new excitement and positivity into your day, profoundly affecting your overall well-being and perspective on life.

The Magic (and Practicality) of Micro-Novelties

What does micro mean? As the word implies, it is shortened from microscopic; it's virtually invisible to the human eye except through a microscope.

Now that's tiny!

So, a micro-novelty is small enough to fit into your schedule no matter how full your days are.

Micro-novelties are small yet out of the ordinary, which awakens the brain, specifically the frontal cortex. It's a simple way to accelerate change while breaking up boredom, a feeling of monotony or the weariness of routine—same ole, same ole.

Learning to add novelties to your life is a fantastic addition for even the busiest people. You don't have to make grand gestures or overhaul your life, which can disrupt it unnecessarily. The power lies in incremental, intentional changes.

Let's take an analogy that might drive my point home.

Have you ever had a tiny rock in your shoe?

No matter how small, it's annoying, isn't it? Comfort is achieved by the simple act of removing the rock. This is the power of small—small is big, and each small habit either works for us or against us! 

When done consistently, these positive micro-changes gradually transform how you feel and engage with the world around you.

Related reading: "A Simple Way to Enhance Joy and Inner Peace: The Science of Gratitude."

Why Our Brains Love Novelty: The Science Behind Micro-Novelty

The human brain is wired to respond positively to new experiences. When we try something new, our brains release dopamine, often called the "feel-good" neurotransmitter.

This release of feel-good chemicals not only boosts our mood but also enhances our creativity, problem-solving skills, and overall engagement with life. With that increased energy, you can focus on meaningful change.

According to neuroscience research, exposure to novelty also increases the brain's plasticity, which means it literally helps the brain grow by forming new connections and pathways. And that's exactly what we need to change more easily: a pliable brain!

These scientific insights underscore the transformative power of integrating novelties into your routines.

So what exactly is a novelty?

A novelty is something new and unique.

It could be something as simple as trying a new restaurant instead of your favorite one, taking a different route to work, or stepping outside for a break midday to breathe deeply.

These tiny changes can awaken your senses and bring a renewed desire for a renewed life and move you closer to your big life milestones.

It's so simple, too often people dismiss this fantastic key to our brains that readies them for change.

Simple and Easy Ways to Introduce Novelty into Your Day

#1 Way to utilize novelty for change.Simple Swaps to Refresh Your Routine and  Create a Fresh Start

The beauty of micro-novelties lies in their simplicity and accessibility, yet their transformative power.

You don't have to plan a grand adventure to experience the benefits. Small tweaks to your daily routine can be impactful.

For example, swapping the hand you use to brush your teeth in the morning. Or if you have small children, introduce brushing teeth together at night; put on music for the length of time you need to brush. This little ritual adds fun and greater connection while encouraging healthy hygiene.

A family brushing their teeth together as a new micro-novelty ritual..

Perhaps surprise your taste buds with a new spice in your food—my husband's favorite! New flavors prepares you for adapting to healthier habits and changes in your lifestyle.

Or add a dash of anticipation to your morning by attending a pottery, weaving, or Tai Chi class!

Similarly, taking a different walking or driving route will expose you to new sights, scents, and sounds, which can positively stimulate your brain.

Related reading: "5 Ways Brain Fitness and Behavioral Health Are Optimized by Healthy Habits."

#2 Way to utilize novelty for change.Rearrange and Change Your Living Space

Your physical environment plays a significant role in your mental and emotional well-being.

Before brain science revealed the importance of our environment, Maria Montessori taught the high value of a prepared and enriched environment for children. I followed suit by rearranging my kids' bedrooms weekly, putting out new lessons, displaying varying family pictures, rotating floor texture coverings, or adding a bouquet of fresh flowers. Little did I know back then that I was stimulating my children's brain neural circuitry.

Something as easy as rearranging your living area in your home (or workspace) can significantly affect your mood, productivity and drive.

Add a beautiful piece of artwork or photographs from adventures that uplift you. You can even add an inspiring poster to help you remember to exercise or change out ice cream for a healthy fruit salad for dessert. Whatever brings you joy or reminds you of what's important, you'll subtly download the ideas into the unconscious while also supporting your goals consciously.

Recently, I framed two dozen family pictures (big and small) and displayed them in two separate groupings, one in the hallway and one in my home office. They bring joy to me every time I see them. And they keep one of my primary motivators right in front of me. 

A new setup refreshes your space and can powerfully invoke a new perspective, invigorate routine tasks, and set you up for success in any endeavor you decide to pursue.

Related reading: "How Interior Design Can Improve Your Mental Wellness."

#3 Way to utilize novelty for change.How Different Books and Music Can Transform You

Expanding your cultural and intellectual pursuits by exploring new genres of books and music can be a fun form of novelty.

If you read novels, try reading a "how-to" book on an interest you've had on the back burner. If you gravitate toward knowledge-based books, read a novel simply for enjoyment. If you love music but repeatedly listen to the same genre, try making a playlist of songs you wouldn't normally listen to.

Each new book or varied music stimulates your brain in unique ways. This exposure can awaken new pathways and fire neural connections, enhancing your mental health.

Consider trying out a brain app to enhance your brain fitness.

And who knows?

This tiny shifts might just lead to a newfound hobby and the fulfillment of your dreams!

Micro-Novelty: Try a lunchtime adventure to add freshness to your life.

#4 Way to utilize novelty for change.The Joy of Lunchtime Adventures

Even your lunch break offers an opportunity for micro-novelty.

Instead of eating at your desk or in the same spot every day, try having lunch in a different location weekly. Whether it's a park you've never visited or a café you've been meaning to try, explore different places. You could also connect with an acquaintance you've been wanting to get to know better or a get-together with a friend that you've been postponing.

Reaching out to life in fresh ways creates new opportunities and enhances positivity.

Craft Your Personal Micro-Novelty Plan: Ideas to Get Started

To begin mapping new micro-novelties into your life, start by brainstorming activities that excite or intrigue you. The new activities could be anything from trying a new hobby to visiting a new place or experimenting with a different clothing style or a mindfulness practice.

The key is to choose activities that align with your interests and values, making the experience meaningful and enjoyable. Remember, the goal is to introduce small changes that collectively contribute to a greater sense of vitality and engagement with life.

To ensure a steady stream of micro-novelties, consider jotting down ideas as they arise in a journal on a dedicated page. Write down different novelty ideas and then pick one each week (or daily) to try out.

This simple yet effective strategy inspires and builds anticipation making each week feel like a mini-adventure.

Closing Thoughts

Experimenting with micro-novelties is a gentle yet powerful way to break free of bad habits or simply from the monotony of daily routines. Spark personal transformation and press the reset button for a more interesting life.

So, choose one micro-novelty this week and see where it takes you.

For customized coaching support, contact Heartmanity! Sign up for our newsletter for more tips on creating more joy in your life.

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Jennifer A. Williams / Emotional Intelligence CoachJennifer A. Williams / Emotional Intelligence Coach
Jennifer is the Heartmanity founder and an emotional intelligence expert. She has two decades of EQ experience and is the author of emotional intelligence training and courses. As an emotional fitness coach, Jennifer teaches EQ skills, brain science hacks, and a comprehensive approach that gets results. She is happily married and the mother of three incredible grown children.

Posted in Brain Fitness, Mindfulness and Perspective, Emotional Intelligence & Fitness

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