The human brain craves novelty. It’s how we are wired. It is the reason we can notice changes in our environment and why we get a rush buying something new. Ever changed your hair color? Novelty. Felt a surge of excitement visiting a new city? Novelty.
During the summer of 2017, my husband and I traveled to Italy to check the #1 item off my bucket list- Venice. The moment I stepped out of the train station and onto the Grand Canal, I was in total awe. Nothing could have smacked the smile off my face. Me. In Venice. On the Grand Canal. It was an amazing moment.
Four days later, I’m living that moment in reverse. Four days of getting lost in windy alleys and seeing countless canals. Four days of watching copious amounts of people taking even more copious amounts of selfies. The magic was not as strong as it was. Venice had lost a bit of its novelty.
The human brain & novelty
Our brains have a region in the midbrain called the substantia nigra/ventral segmental area (SN/VTA). It’s the part of the brain that responds to novel or new stimuli. Research conducted with animals has found that when the brain interprets something that is novel, it releases dopamine (dopamine is a neurotransmitter that is the “feel good” hormone associated with bliss, enjoyment, and concentration).
The researchers discovered that the release of dopamine as an effect of seeing something novel motivated the brain to want to discover more novel things. In other words, seeing or experiencing something new excites our brains and motivates us to seek out more new things. Novelty can help us learn new material and keep us interested in hobbies we have just begun.
Novelty ignites our senses and piques our interest. It excites our brains.
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Novelty is natural
Spend 5 minutes with a toddler and you will see that novelty is a high priority. They are into everything! They are curious about the world around them and thus, constantly seek out new information.
Kids crave novelty. How do I know? Because if you spend too many days in a row at home, they become mischievous! They begin getting into things they shouldn’t and climbing on things they aren’t supposed to be scaling.
No, your kiddos haven’t morphed into terrible children. They are simply creating their own novelty. He is seeking new things to spark excitement in his brain. She is looking to engage in something interesting.
Introduce some novelty to your day
As mamas, we can use this knowledge to our advantage. When your kiddos are into everything, take a break from the norm and introduce some novelty. It doesn’t have to cost money or take a lot of time. You don’t need a lot of supplies on hand or a lengthy Pinterest tutorial. There are many easy ways you can deviate from the norm of your daily routine.
- Go on a walk outside for a change of scenery
- Visit a friend for a playdate.
- Go grocery shopping
- Visit a new park and play on the playground
- Bake some cookies from scratch
- Create a new game or dig out an old favorite
- Teach your kids a new skill or hobby
- Take a bike ride around the neighborhood
- Swap out some toys. They will be more interested if it’s been a while since they have seen them
- Turn on some music and dance
- Switch up the location you do something usual (i.e. read a book outside instead of in the living room)
- Make a new recipe for lunch
- Visit a local nature center or go for a hike in the woods
- Check out some new books at the library or enjoy one of their free programs
- Find a free workshop and build something cool at your local hardware store
Use novelty to boost your mood & improve your day
You get bored doing the same thing day in and day out. So do your kids. Try one some of the suggestions above and introduce a little novelty into your day today. I guarantee it will make both of and your kiddos a little more energetic.
What do you think? How have you used novelty to your advantage?