Humans live a long time. And during that life we can expect our tastes to change. Learning to go with those changes is an art.
One cause of both anxiety and depression is inauthenticity. When we are forced to be something we are not, we begin to resent it with our bodies. Either our body experiences a sense of threat (which is anxiety), or a sense of defeat (which is depression). Sometimes we hop between threat and defeat in an exhausting psychological dance.
Rediscovering what we like is one route to renewed authenticity, and therefore to an alleviation of anxiety and depression.
What are the barriers to finding out what we genuinely like? Here are a few:
- People-pleasing – we try so hard to please other people, that we mask our own true preferences. This leads to short term gain (social peace), but long term misery for us.
- Habit formation – we get so used to our existing habits, we forget to use trial and error to find out what our future habits should be. Unless we try our new sights, sounds, tastes, smells and textures, how will we know what our senses like? Unless we try new people, how will we know ourselves socially?
- Fear – humans have an ambiguous relationship with novelty. We are attracted to it, but we also have reactions against it. Our fear of the new can prevent us from leading new lives which might suit us.
Take some time to find out what you enjoy. Not what you used to enjoy, but what you actually enjoy these days.
Be a little bit random in your explorations. Here are some ideas for ways to prompt yourself to get outside your comfort zone, and into your authentic zone:
- Get a friend to take you to an activity they like, but that you haven’t done before. See if you like it.
- Book a short course in something a bit random – don’t spend too much money, but get enough exposure to see if it’s for you.
- Order something unfamiliar from a menu, and take your chances. It’s the only way to find out what you’re missing.
- Take an ‘exploration day’ once in a while to visit some local places that you would never usually go to. Try them out.
While you are discovering new activities, you may find that your anxiety subsides (because you are too busy investigating), and/or that your depression lessens (because when you are exercising your curiosity, the concept of defeat isn’t very relevant).