I want to Try More Things. What should I try?
September 3, 2015 4:32 AM   Subscribe

I think trying new things is crucial to keeping life interesting, but by definition my imagination is constrained by the things I usually do. I need some ideas!

I'm following Malcolm Ocean's excellent advice in Try Things, where he draws on a survey of attendees of a rationality course which suggests that "the more new techniques you try, the more successful techniques you’ll learn".

I'm tracking this is a goal on Beeminder with the hopes of routinely forcing myself to get out of my comfort zone, try new and interesting things, learn new skills and generally have fun. For example, I tried bouldering recently and loved it and will probably do it again, but only on the encouragement of a friend who boulders most days. I don't think I ever would have thought of it otherwise.

So what are your suggestions of things to try?
posted by henryaj to Sports, Hobbies, & Recreation (44 answers total) 110 users marked this as a favorite
Learn to knit and to use an arduino microcontroller to make blinky lights go.
posted by moonmilk at 4:38 AM on September 3, 2015 [2 favorites]

Archery! I run a club, so I'm bound to say that.
posted by pipeski at 4:45 AM on September 3, 2015 [1 favorite]

Hey, that's great! I'm trying winemaking this weekend for the first time. I wasn't quite ready to jump in (still reading up on it), but the grapes are ready when the grapes are ready. And they're ready today: yikes! Feet first.
posted by notyou at 4:45 AM on September 3, 2015

Also, seconding the arduino thing. You can do a lot of fun/silly things with them, and the tutorial information available is first rate.
posted by pipeski at 4:46 AM on September 3, 2015

Best answer: Keep a pocket sized sketch book and pen with you. Pull it out and draw what you see around you at odd times instead of looking at your phone. Don't worry about how the finished product looks. You'll be amazed at all the cool things you'll start to notice in your everyday life.
posted by MelissaSimon at 4:49 AM on September 3, 2015 [10 favorites]

Best answer: What are you afraid of (that won't kill you)? Try those things.
posted by Halo in reverse at 5:02 AM on September 3, 2015 [3 favorites]

Get a ukulele and head over to YouTube! Knitting is a good one, or if you have access to a machine (or money to spend on one) sewing! It's amazing how many free, really good videos there are on YouTube for stuff like this.
posted by usonian at 5:06 AM on September 3, 2015 [3 favorites]

Learn to ride a unicycle.
posted by emilyw at 5:10 AM on September 3, 2015

Join your local hacker/makerspace and join in in whatever it is that people do there.
posted by Too-Ticky at 5:14 AM on September 3, 2015 [1 favorite]

Best answer: Download Duolingo and learn a language. Pick up a new physical activity (running, swimming, volleyball, yoga). Pick an area of study (math, history, humanities) that you never really liked in school and try to improve.

Code Academy
Join a choir
Furniture building

Good luck!
posted by bunderful at 5:18 AM on September 3, 2015 [3 favorites]

Best answer: not sure this helps, but... i've made it a policy in life to "take opportunities". so, for example, i've changed jobs when someone has contacted me with an interesting offer, and i've changed countries when someone has wanted to move. i've done these things even though i was scared, worried, or not particularly convinced they were a good idea. and i think it's given me a lot more "new stuff", at quite a deep level - living in another country / culture particularly - than i could have sought out myself. so, in a sense, just "rolling with it" can actually be a way to find new experiences (one that doesn't rely on a finite imagination), although perhaps not in the way you are thinking of.
posted by andrewcooke at 5:26 AM on September 3, 2015 [11 favorites]

YES to winemaking - it is such a lovely skill to have and so simple to master. You don't even need grapes, you can use almost any fruit you can think of. Recommend using one of these kits to get started, their instructions are outstandingly accessible and friendly.

Also, try playing any musical instrument you can get your hands on. Keep a lookout for old ones at flea markets (i got a perfectly functional violin for £20 once) so you can have a go on the cheap.

Also try volunteering of all kinds. You learn skills, meet awesome people, and gain an awful lot more out of it than you ever expect to.
posted by greenish at 5:31 AM on September 3, 2015

Best answer: I would do something similar like you did with the bouldering - what's something that a friend of yours really likes but you've never done? That way if you end up liking the thing you have a thing partner for when you want to do thing again.
posted by poffin boffin at 5:46 AM on September 3, 2015 [2 favorites]

Hula hooping and Ultimate Frisbee!
posted by futureisunwritten at 5:50 AM on September 3, 2015

Sleep out in a tent in the winter. Best if you've hiked to a beautiful wilderness/mountain location but you can also do it in your backyard just to say you've done it. Assuming it snows where you live. Take it a step further and sleep in a snow shelter. Read up a bit on how to do this safely, of course.

Rebuild a bike from scratch. Buy a beater on Craigslist, strip it down to the frame and rebuild, replacing components if you need to. I did this and while I didn't exactly save money in the end I wound up with a fun mountain bike that fills me with pride every time I ride it.

And yes, do what scares you.
posted by bondcliff at 5:57 AM on September 3, 2015 [2 favorites]

I've always wanted to try stand up paddle boarding (SUP) - when I run by the lake, I see so many people doing it and it looks fun.

Another thing I like to do sometimes is trail running. I usually run on the roads because it's more convenient for me, but running on trails feels so good on the joints, and the time in nature feel refreshing.
posted by barnoley at 6:03 AM on September 3, 2015 [2 favorites]

Check out meetup.com in your area and go to whatever is on that you can get to
posted by the agents of KAOS at 7:01 AM on September 3, 2015 [1 favorite]

I took up oil painting last spring. My first results have been... uh, interesting... But whenever a colour, a line or a detail turns out great - often by accident or whim - I get such a kick.

Trying it myself also made me curious about various painting techniques and traditions, and I have been following online tutorials and courses on art history. And the more you know about painting, the more amazing your next visit to the museum will be. It has really enriched my life a lot in a very short time span.
posted by sively at 7:02 AM on September 3, 2015 [2 favorites]

Since you already like being outdoors and are fit, how about orienteering?

+1 for the suggestion of learning a musical instrument. If it's a band or orchestra instrument, you've got about 30-50 friends encouraging you. In a community band/orchestra, you don't have to be good, just non-terrible and open to outsider's corrections/instructions/directions. Nobody in those groups was a music major in college, not even a minor in it. If there's a tough phrase in the music, just listen to the others playing it, pretend and then jump back in the music when it returns to easy enough. There isn't any commitment either, in that it's not like a college class where you must attend for the entire semester. There's plenty of used instruments for sale on Craigslist or e-Bay or pawn shop. If you don't like the group, you can quit after a few months. You'd probably have enough music reading skills after about 1-3 months of private lessons to join a band/orchestra. Private lessons don't have to come exclusively from the music shop, there's plenty of hungry music majors at the college, either 4-year or community. Just post a note on the college's school of music bulletin board or call/e-mail your instrument's professor. Your instrument's professor should be able to recommend one of his students for lessons.
posted by dlwr300 at 7:02 AM on September 3, 2015

Learn to ride a motorcycle! I had a great weekend taking a motorcycle license training course.
posted by ghostbikes at 7:13 AM on September 3, 2015

Spend one day (week, month) saying yes to everything, no ifs ands or buts.
posted by waving at 7:20 AM on September 3, 2015 [1 favorite]

Buy a Magnetic Poetry set for your refrigerator or try it out online.
ice skating
posted by Redstart at 7:21 AM on September 3, 2015

Glassblowing! Totally fun to try.
posted by mskyle at 7:23 AM on September 3, 2015

Learning a language or musical instrument. Dancing - I like International Folk Dance for the great music, lively dances, usually no partner needed, and really nice people. Learn about where you live - go to the historical markers, parks, tourist attractions. Geocaching. Build some stuff - bookshelves or other woodworking.

Adult education's UK equivalent in your area will have a lot of resources. Volunteer.
posted by theora55 at 7:38 AM on September 3, 2015

Kayaking. Awesome fun. Join a club, meet new people, visit some amazing places.
posted by fatfrank at 7:53 AM on September 3, 2015

Best answer: I guess the question is what is your comfort zone? What kind of things do you want?

But my suggestions:

Learn how to DJ. Or just make mixtapes.

Creative writing. Perhaps participating in National Novel Writing Month (nanowrimo).

Buy some fabric paint. Make your own t-shirts.

Fill your house with your own art. Literally just do whatever you feel like. Could be very abstract.

Have coffee with all your Facebook friends.

Do a long distance walk for a week or more solo.

Play a nordic larp
posted by Erberus at 7:57 AM on September 3, 2015

From my recent tried and made my life better list:

Dance! Salsa, Bachata, Kizomba, etc. (I think I have a London recommendation - MeMail if interested)
Go to Karaoke. Participate!
Pull together a bar trivia team. Or find one through Meet-up
Hiking and a Beer type Meet-ups. Stick around and socialize.
Ride a bike to get to daily needs (including work).
Rock climbing (since you pretty much already mentioned).
Join a choir/singing group.

Some of my older hobbies that I strongly recommend:
Tabletop games
Get out on a boat (big or small, by hook or crook)
Take a first session for flight training (warning: fun, but expensive)
Soccer or other team sports, see if you can find a casual pick-up group

Inspired to try but haven't really yet:
Learn to play the bass
Through hike trails for at least 3 nights in a trip
posted by meinvt at 8:07 AM on September 3, 2015 [1 favorite]

Zip lining! It feels a little dangerous but is safe, and so fun.
posted by Lay Off The Books at 8:38 AM on September 3, 2015 [1 favorite]

I tried table tennis because there's a regular open session that's absurdly close to my home and convenient for me, and it is SO MUCH FUN. Even though I am completely terrible and probably will be for a long time.

I would particularly recommend looking for things that are so cheap and easy for you to get to that it's practically more trouble not to go than to go -- makes it easier to develop a habit and thereby develop your skills.

Also, crochet is the best thing ever and can't be done with a machine and you can bring it with you wherever you go! Portable activities are also good for encouraging you to stick with a new thing.
posted by asperity at 8:48 AM on September 3, 2015 [1 favorite]

Volunteer tour guide, you have to learn a new subject, then mast presenting it to people in an interesting manner. It's a little like acting and teaching in one, and you meet a lot of nice new people. I've parachuted, ultra lighted & abseiled and nothing scared me as much as taking out my first group of people.
posted by wwax at 8:52 AM on September 3, 2015

I took a beginner's mandolin class at my local community college. I'm still terrible but I love playing. Pick an instrument that appeals to you and keep in mind that you're more likely to play out or join a jam if it's portable... so mandolin or ukulele is better than double bass or sousaphone.
posted by workerant at 9:45 AM on September 3, 2015

Carve spoons from wood with a knife & hatchet.

Honestly, it's very cool!
posted by wenestvedt at 10:46 AM on September 3, 2015 [1 favorite]

I think stores like EMS and REI offer free introductory classes in different things, depending on the season, which would be a great way to try something new without too much commitment.
posted by wenestvedt at 10:48 AM on September 3, 2015

Thanks to knee replacement surgery, I am able to be active for the first time in over 20 years. I'm taking a beginning weight training class at my community college. It's wonderful!
posted by harrietthespy at 11:05 AM on September 3, 2015 [2 favorites]

Walk through a neighborhood you aren't familiar with.

If you don't walk in your own neighborhood that counts too.

Go to the international grocery store and buy something you've never tried.
posted by yohko at 11:15 AM on September 3, 2015 [3 favorites]

Learn the basics of Arabic. My local 'open university' type of institution offers starter classes in mastering the alphabet, with follow-up courses in standard Arabic (focussed on reading and writing) and Egyptian Arabic (more focussed on speaking and understanding speech). I took a trial class in mastering the alphabet and enjoyed it a great deal, and have since signed up for the starter class.
posted by rjs at 11:46 AM on September 3, 2015

Consider your physical environment. Are there any modifications you'd like to make to it (that don't involve tearing down walls or similar)? YouTube is your friend for learning how to build things or otherwise alter your home environment without paying a contractor - just choose a small project first so you don't get overwhelmed.
posted by deludingmyself at 12:37 PM on September 3, 2015 [1 favorite]

Wear things you usually wouldn't wear, and see how it feels. Volunteer in a community you've never seen.
posted by soakimbo at 7:22 PM on September 3, 2015

Best answer: Read poems or short stories until you find one you really like.
Make a sculpture using things in your home.
Start a neighborhood something. Like a garage sale, or a children's play area, or a little free library.
Think about a small thing that needs fixing in your community. Find other people who agree with you. Fix that thing.
Meet and talk to someone who is different from you in an interesting way. Different cultural background, different political orientation, different life goals, different?
Find someone much older than you and really listen to them.
Find someone much younger and do the same.
When the sign on the wall tells you to do something, consider not doing it.
Count the number of times you think about the good things in life during the day.
Make sounds, music and noise using only parts of your body.
Exercise compassion.
Go through a day without the use of one of your senses.
Write your own obituary.
Go to the airport and get on a random plane. Repeat three times.
Make a short film featuring all the members of your family doing a simple thing (making coffee, eating breakfast, tidying up).
100 pushups.
Aurora Borealis.
Tokyo subway.
Bake no-knead bread.
Memorize that poem you really liked.
Ulysses by James Joyce
Good night moon by Margaret Wise Brown
First Aid
Ride in a patrol car.
Learn how to do a hockey stop on ice skates.
Climb a glacier.
Make something out of wood.
Sculpt something out of paper.
Make yourself a hiding place, a really good one.
Get together with friends at an unusual spot and an unusual time.
Teach some kids a couple of good magic tricks.
Godel's theorem.
Get a copy of a musical score and follow a recording of it.
Mentor someone.
Work on a campaign.
Sponsor a refugee.
Make as many different kinds of omelettes you can think of.
Build a catapult.
Pick a technology and go behind the scenes.
Keep a journal.
Take a different way to and from home every day.
Go inside the store you wouldn't be caught dead in.
Change your tools.
Dig up some fossils.
Learn a prayer in a foreign religion.
Get a typewriter and use it.
Sunset, sunrise. Be there.
Get into some water.
Go to a random bookshelf in your library and take a book out.
Two part harmony.
Grow something you can eat.
Throw an axe.
Lie down.
posted by storybored at 9:19 PM on September 3, 2015 [3 favorites]

Voice/singing lessons have been more fun than I ever could have imagined.
posted by Alexandra Michelle at 10:21 PM on September 3, 2015 [1 favorite]

I recently signed up for classpass, which allows you to go to unlimited gyms as long as you don't go to the same one more than 3 times. I've had a blast trying new things - in my city there's everything from Bollywood dancing to rock climbing to aerial yoga. Plus, everything comes with an instructor so you're not on it alone.
posted by fermezporte at 9:46 AM on September 5, 2015

Response by poster: Thank you all so much for your answers! I'm looking forward to trying out as many of these as I can.
posted by henryaj at 4:19 PM on September 5, 2015

Best answer: Barre class! Host a crafternoon! (a crafting afternoon - everyone brings their own project and some nibbles to share). Learn to sew and make yourself a costume to wear to a convention. Read a new author or a genre you're unfamiliar with. Learn beautiful hand stitching or calligraphy. Bake an elaborate cake. There are so many options - sign yourself up for Dabbler subscription and look at each month's item in depth.
posted by eloeth-starr at 3:07 AM on September 6, 2015


Soapstone carving (easy, it turns out)
posted by bluesky78987 at 8:30 AM on September 6, 2015

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