How to Have Fun and Feel More Fulfilled
If you’re anything like me, it’s easy to feel “stuck” in your daily routine. While having a routine is healthy and good for getting things done, it can also bring us down after a while. I got a message the other day from someone whose routine was becoming more of a rut. Here’s what they had to say:
“I feel like I do the same thing every day. I know I can’t get out of doing what I have to do, but there’s more to me than my job and my classes. Yet I’m at a loss for what else to do. I’ve been going to work, coming home, and doing it all again the next day for so long, I’m starting to wonder how I’ll ever stop feeling ‘blah’.”
If you’re feeling stuck, or bogged down, by the daily grind, let me assure you, everyone who has to take on the responsibilities of adulthood has felt this way at one point or another. As much as we may be tempted to, we can’t just ignore our school work, our job responsibilities, or our other responsibilities, and expect ourselves to feel better.
Making new friends and trying new activities may just be the ticket to feeling more energized, more motivated, and more optimistic about the future. That’s because new friendships and new pursuits give us something to feel excited about, and something to look forward to. Here are some tips for how to branch out, make new friends, and try new things.
How to Make New Friends and Try New Things
1. Think About What Brings You Joy
Figuring out what new things to try is often easier when we think back to what else we’ve enjoyed. Take a moment to think back through your life to your favorite memories, or to the last time in recent months you felt happy and energized.
When are you happiest? What were you doing at the times when you were the most joyful? You don’t have to do the exact same things to feel happy again (especially since you’re already looking for something new to do). But you can use those memories as a guide. By thinking through what made you happy in the past, you can plan to try new activities that use the same skills or bring up the same feelings. For example:
- If you were happiest when you were being creative, think of a new art or photography style you could try, or brainstorm some new ways to express your creativity.
- If you’ve been happiest in nature, make a plan to have a picnic in a park, take a hike in a nature reserve, or try stargazing on a clear night.
- If you love trying new food, find some recipes from your favorite style of cuisine you can try at home, or pick a new restaurant to order take-out from.
The good news is, you don’t have to totally transform or undo your current routine to feel better, or to try something new. You can start small. What small changes can you start making to encourage creativity and relaxation in your daily life? Try one of those changes for a week and see how it makes you feel.
2. Ask Yourself: What Would I Like to Learn?
Is there anything you’ve always wanted to learn to do? There’s no time like the present to start doing them. If you’re on a budget, you can always check for scholarships for paid courses you want to take, since they often offer stipends or other financial assistance. Or, there are plenty of high-quality, free instructional videos floating around online.
Make a list of things you’d like to learn to do, or skills you’d like to get better at. What does your list look like? Perhaps it includes:
- Learning a new craft or art form
- Learning to play an instrument
- Picking up a foreign language
- Learning to bake or cook your favorite meal
- Trying a new exercise routine or learning a new sport
Whatever you can dream up, there are lots of free and low-cost ways to learn it, and many ways you can learn from home in a way that works for your own schedule. You can search for how-to videos, Zoom classes, podcasts, and more where experts teach you how to develop your hobbies, sharpen your skills, and uncover new things in your areas of interest.
3. Find Groups or Meetups That Match Your Goals and Interests
Meeting new people can go hand-in-hand with trying new things, because there are always lots of people who want to learn something new. You can ask around at your school or workplace to see if anyone else has been wanting to explore the same interests you are. Or you can find an online group or forum where people dig deep into your favorite topics and hobbies. There are also on-line Bible studies or book clubs that can be really fun to participate in as well.
There are also online “meet up” groups that plan virtual and in-person meetings around shared interests. And there are many online classes, available via Zoom, YouTube, and other popular sites, where people can connect, learn together, and get to know one another.
You can try outdoor activities, too. There are many running, hiking, and climbing groups that seek time in nature as a way to be inspired and get to know new people.
4. Put Yourself Out There
Making new friends and trying new things have something in common: both require us to put ourselves out there, to share parts of ourselves and our lives with others. I know that feels intimidating, but it can be very rewarding, and you can start small.
Whether it’s in a face-to-face conversation, on a video chat, on your blog, or in an online discussion, you can find safe and simple ways to share about yourself:
- What You Want to Learn: Asking questions, or sharing what you’re looking to learn opens the door for others who share your interests to chime in.
- What You Enjoy or Find Interesting: Maybe you share a review of a favorite book or movie, or maybe you talk about a new recipe you just tried. Whatever way you feel comfortable, sharing what you’re interested in and enjoy with others opens the door for connections with new friends.
- What You Have to Offer: In some groups and conversations you’re in, people may ask for help and guidance. If you have a suggestion, offer it. If you’re passionate about helping others, you can volunteer to be a mentor or a group leader to offer guidance to new, younger members. It’s a great way to encourage others, and it may open the door to growing friendships over time, especially if you meet other mentors and volunteers who share similar interests.
Being yourself sounds like a great idea, and it is! But it can be hard to feel confident being yourself and putting yourself out there if you’re wondering what you have to offer. A lot of that difficulty stems from what we believe about ourselves, and why we’re here. In those moments in my life, it’s helpful to remember that my opinion of myself and what I have to offer is tied to my spiritual beliefs.
When I remember that I was created with unique strengths and gifts, that helps me feel more confident sharing my interests and talents with others. I believe God created me with a purpose and using the gifts and talents He has given me are ways that I can help others. If you are open to thinking about God, it may be helpful to think about how he created you with totally unique gifts, and to know that sharing them with others is a great way to feel a stronger sense of friendship and connection.
5. Set Some Goals
Goals can be a good motivator, especially when we share them with people we trust to spur us on and encourage us along the way. Try setting goals within a given time frame. You can stretch yourself a little, but be sure your goals are something you believe you can achieve. For example:
- “I want to read 2 new books (or listen to 2 new audiobooks a month.”
- “I want to spend 20 minutes a day stretching or exercising: 10 in the morning, and 10 at night”.
- “I want to take one online cooking class this summer, and try at least one new recipe from it.”
The online or in-person communities you’ve joined to try new things can be a great place to share and refine your goals. Since you’re all learning together, people will likely give helpful advice on how to set goals, and how to set yourself up to achieve them more readily.
6. Get Support If You Need It
Trying new things and making new friends is exciting. But it can be intimidating, especially if it’s been a while since you’ve tried something new, or if you feel uncomfortable socializing.
Sometimes you need help knowing how to build confidence or move forward in a new friendship or with a new pursuit you’re interested in. Mentoring is a great way to think about where you are, and where you want to be, and mentors are trained to give you practical advice for how to grow, learn and progress.
Talk to a HopeCoach at TheHopeLine today if you’re struggling to make new friends, or not sure where to start when trying new things. We’re here for you, and we’re ready to offer support.
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Photo by Coen van de Broek