We can all be drawn to the unknown, want to learn and discover new things. But really, how many times do we put aside our routines or our safe zone to take on new ways of doing things? Do we stay tied to the known or do we dare to launch ourselves into adversity?
At the University of St. Andrews, Victoria Horner conducted an experiment in which she taught a group of children how they could get a reward through a box by performing three different actions : with a cane, open the latch of the box, another It was to introduce the cane through the hole that existed in the box and hit several times or finally, access the hatch that existed in the box and get the prize.
As the box was opaque, none of the children could see which action would be correct to get the prize, just by trial and error. What happened next? The researchers changed the box and in this case the participants could see what it was like inside, if it had a latch, a hatch or had to knock.
This work was carried out first with children and later with chimpanzees. In the second part of the test, the children continued to perform the same actions even knowing they were illogical, but they had previously learned all three and only repeated. In the case of chimpanzees, when they had the opportunity to observe what the box was like, they managed to get the reward the first time.
The security of continuing to do the same
Our behavior patterns are guided by what is already known, in new situations our brain is predetermined to generate solution options from what we already know how to do or what we have been doing in the past, especially if the consequences were good.
When we come across new information, the brain asks: where have I seen this before? And it relies on past experiences to store the new data. These executions of our system make us faster, both when making decisions and storing content in our memory. But what happens if we are tied to the known? How can we get out of this circle?
We find security in everything that we repeat and in what we feel comfortable doing because we already know how it works, but there is much more behind it. A whole world of possibilities lies behind and it is in our hands to get rid of the already known patterns and start experimenting with new ways of proceeding.
Something simple that takes us very far
What can be a good first step to get out of this circle and free ourselves from the ropes that keep us tied to the known? Trying to do new things is very easy, here are some strategies to achieve it:
- Try new routes to get to work or home.
- Talk to unfamiliar people, for example the baker, the bus driver, someone waiting in line, or a neighbor you meet in the elevator.
- Try to do things differently, for example, use your non-dominant hand for simple activities like brushing your teeth.
- Try activities that take you out of your comfort zone such as dancing, singing, alternative sports, recipes from other countries.
All of this helps us to reconcile ourselves to the new. It gives us the opportunity to know different points of view and discover ourselves without being tied to the known, free and, why not also insecure at first. There is a world of possibilities behind the trust zone and expanding it brings with it challenges and possibilities for growth.
We are more than what we know about ourselves, we are more than repeating what we already know how to do, we are beings wanting to grow and improve and we can achieve it every day. Challenge yourself to do any of the activities and once fear is overcome, welcome to the world of the new.