Take Time For You To Do Something New
Maybe you’ve already worked your way through organizing your closets, reading a few more books, and even putting together a puzzle or two. But you still feel oppressed by the never-ending stalemate we’re in of sheltering in place. To give your brain a refresh, maximize this time to try doing something completely new (or something shelved so long ago that it feels like new).
I’ve been attempting to learn to draw cartoons AND come up with the comic quips that merit them. Every day, in the back of my mind (and while doing other things) I’m looking at cartoons I encounter and considering what things I think are funny. And, for the first time, I’m taking art lessons from David (an artist and teacher) who gives me tips on how to put these quips on paper.
So far, it has been a daily drip of me missing the mark. I come up with ideas which I think might be funny and run them by my daughter Alexandra as well as David, who patiently listen and then offer comments, primarily, “I don’t get it.”
Mostly, I’m reminded what I’ve known all along. When it comes to humor, I only seem to tap into it unintentionally. In fact, when I’m perceived to be funny, it’s usually because of something I’ve said without much thought. Wait a minute! Is there a joke in there?
FEEL THE BRAIN STRETCH
So, I’m not funny. And I’m certainly not an artist. But each day I’m trying, and mostly flopping. And the deal is: I don’t care. It’s actually fun. In the experience alone, I’m passing the time and realizing benefits. Here, you will find a list of perks you can experience by throwing caution to the wind and trying something new.
- You learn to invest in learning, not the outcome. Accessing new information outside your wheelhouse might feel messy, and indeed you should be ready to slip on the banana peel and enjoy it. Good results are great, but not the emphasis. This is not about what you produce so much as what you gain in trying.
- New information reroutes your thinking. You probably have particular ways you process information. You learn best via those paths. But learning through less-used channels, you can expand your strategic thinking and open up fresh possibilities in all your thinking.
For example, I’m a verbal and audio learner, so thinking visually is quite different for me. I can almost feel other parts of my brain at work as I attempt to “see” my way to funny.
- Personal discoveries await you. It’s uplifting and diverting to solve little problems that don’t impact your life on the grander scale. For a time, you step outside of your daily life to reach a solution within reach, even if its impact is small potatoes.
In the process of working to resolve a small puzzle, you learn more about how you process information. You might find that in something you felt “wasn’t your strength,” you have gems of insight to apply elsewhere. Plus, you give your brain a rest from dealing with the other issues.
- The biology of learning: You’re ampped up! It turns out that the same dopamine system activated during activities such as exercise and eating also comes into play while learning new things.
And when you realize an enrichment of assimilating new information into your overall sense of self, the benefit is boosted, increasing the sense of living life to the fullest. Over at CNN in the article, “Learning Something New—Your Brain Will Thank you by cognitive psychologist Gary Marcus sites a study which suggests, there is a correlation biologically which may lower cortisol levels, improve immune function and help you sleep better.
LEARNING NEW THINGS IS YOUR GIFT TO YOU
Pick something new to try and give yourself the gift of the time to leap. The trick is keeping the goals really tiny, and then being consistent in the smallest increment of effort.
You can always go longer, but the simple act of picking up the proverbial pen and writing is a start. Sitting quietly and thinking is a beginning, too. You can consider this notion of small steps over here in this post about mini habits to see how it works.
And, as you practice your new thing, why not write thoughts to yourself about how it feels in your journal on what you discover?
Just for fun here are a couple of my early efforts.
The first is my very first effort at cartoon drawing and coming up with a humor bit.
This is an ode to artist Christoph Niemann.
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Sherry and Alexandra