A really great way to get to know yourself, get out of a rut, or increase low self esteem is to practice expanding experiences. Expanding experiences is just what it sounds like. It’s about trying new things mindfully to see what you like and what you don’t like. It’s to test your limits and then go beyond them. It’s a way to grow. Here’s how it helps.

Let’s say that your way of expanding experiences is to do one new thing each month that is way outside of your comfort zone. So in the next six months you do an escape room with strangers, go to a rave, attend a church service in a religion that you know nothing about, read a novel in a genre that you haven’t explored yet, have dinner in a five star restaurant, and take a class in origami. Maybe you actually enjoy two of the six things, but after this, one thing is for sure. You aren’t boring! You can now speak with personal experience about far more topics than you could before.

Or let’s say that that your way of expanding experiences is with food. You either cook one new recipe per week or go out to a different restaurant and try a different dish. At the end of six months, if you do this mindfully, you will have an amazing command of food! You will know what you like and what you don’t. You may have a grasp for what wines go with what foods or what herbs blend most harmoniously with each other. This could lead to cooking classes, gardening, learning about nutrition, finding new ethnic stores that were previously undiscovered, a healthier lifestyle, or a whole new way of relating to life.

Another suggestion is to learn the language of your ancestors. To strengthen your skills, you commit to engaging in activities where you have to actually practice speaking that language with others. So, you join a practice group. You hire a tutor. You plan a trip to a place where that language is spoken. When you buy books, you try some that are written in the new language. In the course of learning new words, you begin to see the world through the eyes of another culture – your ancestral culture! You’re learning about you!

These are just a few ways that you can practice expanding experiences. How you do it is up to you, but I would have a plan. Having a plan creates a commitment and will probably lead to more follow through. Choosing something that interests you also helps. We want to do what lights us up, so don’t choose something you will dread. Keep in mind though that sometimes, the most meaningful experiences of life are the hardest or darkest.

Now let’s imagine that you’ve committed to expanding experiences and have followed through. It’s now six months later and we are looking back at what has happened. Here are some of the benefits that you might notice.

  • “I don’t know” is rarely a part of your vocabulary. You can speak with authority about things you know and don’t know, what you like and don’t like. You can confidently speak about a lot more topics and are far more interested in the world around you.
  • You have a wider social circle.
  • Your social circle includes people who like what you like.
  • Thoughts like “I’m so stupid” and “Who would want me?” are no longer a part of your self-talk. You’re a bad ass, and you know it!
  • If someone criticizes you, it’s not a big deal. You’ve faced lots of challenges and have grown beyond them. A little negative feedback can either be dismissed without a second thought as someone’s opinion or used to make you better.
  • You are adventurous. Instead of saying “no” and staying on the couch with your conviction that you already know the outcome of something before it happens, you give people and things a chance.
  • You are living your life rather than surviving or coping through it. Life is something that you look forward to and enjoy.