The Power Of Novelty

September 17,2012

As humans, one of our greatest strengths, and one of our greatest weaknesses, is our ability to adapt. We are able to form patterns and habits quickly, which is great when it comes to things like exercise and organization, but not so great when it comes to awareness. Getting used to the same routine can cause us to zone out and go on autopilot mode. Try to envision the house on the corner of your street. Can you remember what color it is? How many stories is it? Can you recall any other identifying details, like the presence of a gate, the landscaping, or the front door? You’ve passed this house so many times that you should be able to draw it perfectly from memory, but chances are that you probably can’t even remember the simplest of details. You’re so accustomed to walking or driving by it that your brain no longer takes the time to register or remember it.

That’s why purposefully trying to break your habits with new behaviors can be so powerful. Doing something novel forces your brain to pay more attention than usual, and also makes it easier to become more aware of what you were doing before. Have you ever started a new, healthier diet? You may have quickly realized how much better your body felt being fed nutritious foods. You may also have recognized how tired and lethargic you had unwittingly been feeling eating all of that junk food. Novelty can also bring a sense of liveliness and curiosity to your life.

The good news is that you can notice changes in your awareness by trying something new just once. Trying something once is a lot less daunting than trying to convince yourself to make a major life change. As an experiment, try to spend a week doing one new thing every day. You can start with something simple and not particularly meaningful, like taking a new route to work or school in the morning. Over the week, you can build up to more substantial changes, like attempting not to smoke for an entire day or taking a few minutes to meditate in the morning. As you try each new thing, try to pay attention to what it feels like. What do you notice about the change? How does it compare with the way you used to do things? Do you feel more aware of your body or your emotions?

Interested in bringing more novelty into your life? Want to turn your small changes into more lasting ones? Call (415) 658-5738 or visit my Appointments page to schedule a consultation.


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I'm Vanessa Marin, a sex therapist and writer specializing in helping you have more fun in the bedroom.

I have bachelor’s degrees in human sexuality and sociology from Brown University, and a master’s degree in counseling psychology from the California Institute of Integral Studies. I’m also a licensed psychotherapist. I’ve been working in the sex therapy field since 2002 and have been featured by The New York Times, O: The Oprah Magazine, Real Simple, and many more.

If you’re interested in improving your sex life, you can work with me via my online courses or personal coaching sessions. I look forward to supporting you in creating the sex life you’ve always wanted!