There is growing evidence that deliberately allowing the mind to wander can increase creativity. “These days, though, we tend to keep our brain occupied by engaging with outside material,” says Art Markman, Ph.D, psychology professor at The University of Texas at Austin and author of Bring Your Brain to Work. Think: impulsively checking your phone when you’re waiting in a line or listening to music or an audio book on a walk. Instead, Markman suggests giving yourself a chance to let your internal thoughts guide your focus or simply pondering interesting questions in those moments of quiet.
When people eat popcorn with chopsticks or drink water from martini glasses, they’re more immersed in the experience and find it more enjoyable, according to research published in Personality and Social Psychology Bulletin.
The brain has evolved to automate predictable experiences, says study co-author Rob Smith, Ph.D., assistant professor of marketing at The Ohio State University in Columbus. If you expect to eat the same dinner of chicken and sweet potatoes with a knife and fork off of a white plate every day, the meal will start to feel monotonous.
People pay more attention to first-time experiences. Eating from a mug instead of a plate, using unconventional cutlery, or drinking your latte from a bowl can make your meals feel novel and exciting again. So, if your usual dinner or midday snack starts to feel stale, switching up your utensils or tableware can bring it back to life, Smith says.
“One of the biggest things that differentiates the most from the least sexually satisfied couples is how many new and different things they’re doing in bed,” says Dr. Justin Lehmiller, Kinsey Institute researcher, host of the Sex and Psychology Podcast, and Scientific Advisor to Lovehoney. Research in The Journal of Sex Research backs this up. “We need to feed our need for novelty and self-expansion in our relationships by continually trying new things with our partners.”
And don’t just limit it to sexual experimentation—separate research shows there are benefits to simply trying new shared activities in daily life, too. This could involve taking a different workout class together, making new recipes, or vacationing in a unique or far flung location. In addition to meeting that need for novelty, mixing things up also creates distraction, which can help you to forget about stress, Lehmiller notes. “In that way, it can help you to focus more on each other, and potentially open the door to more desire.”
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