Wednesday, 21 December 2016

How can we maintain novelty in things we really like?

Radio kills music.
When hearing a new popular song that comes out on the radio, the radio station plays that song every hour, every day of every week. Two months later, if you can last listening to it that long, you begin to wonder why you ever liked it, to begin with.
This doesn’t just happen with music this happens with everything you do, unless you are obsessive compulsive (I feel I am at times with certain things, like locking the door and checking it 5 times to see if it is locked) then you might find that the novelty seldom wears off, or you just don’t pay attention to it as much.
For the rest of humanity; when you do something repetitively you will eventually find that it loses its novelty.
So, what’s wrong with this? Why does Novelty matter?
Jonah Berger in Invisible Influence suggests that novel things require additional processing and attention. We tend to get a bit anxious because novelty can be a scary thing.
Familiarity breeds comfort.
So, what do we want? Things to be familiar or things to be novel?
We want the right balance of both.
The irony is that repetition is not what makes things popular it’s novelty.
There is nothing wrong with becoming attached to things that are new. It’s how we move forward with those things that will predict if they will last as our favorites or dwindle down to something that becomes mundane.
Why does novelty shape our experience?
I guess the question shouldn’t be why, but rather how.
When we taste something new for the first time we seem to either really like it or hate it, let’s take a mango spiral chocolate strawberry sorbet as an example. When we like it we want to get more of it. The thought of it makes us salivate.
If we have it every day, but the third week it is just a regular old sorbet that’s filling us up on empty calories. It isn’t new, it isn’t exciting anymore.
I remember a time when I used to love ketchup so much that I would refuse to eat any meal without it.
It was something new and exciting, this excitement lasted throughout my whole youth.
There have been rumors going around that I ate ketchup with soup and other bizarre things. Which for the record isn’t true. However, I can tell you a true story.
When I was about 11 years old I went to my friends birthday party at McDonald’s. For kids, mind you 20 years ago before the whole healthy food/vegan craze, this was the place to be. I ordered so many burgers that my friend’s parents asked me if I was getting fed at home. I said to them “NO” not sarcastically.
The reason why I said this was because my parents thought ketchup was bad for me. Well at least at the rate I was eating it at, virtually on everything. So, they cut me off. I rebelled and went on a food strike.
Looking back now I don’t think I did anything wrong, I know my parents had my best intentions in mind, and guess what? The novelty wore off.
It’s almost as if that needed to happen to stop from continuing my ketchup spree.
Going back to the original question; how can we maintain novelty in things we really like?
It will be subjective.
The general assumption is to maintain a distant relationship with things that you enjoy.
There is a paradox here, keeping a distance will be counter-intuitive and you will not like the song, food or material possessions as much as you would if you had a closer relationship with them.
There is no right answer or one way to do things. There is, however, mindfulness. Knowing what you like, and that attending to it occasionally will keep it refreshing and exciting.
You need to know yourself. Don’t let your impulses dictate your actions.
Realize you have these impulses and divert your concentration onto something else.
The catch 22 is that trying not to think about the things that are novel will only make you think about them more.
In business, I find that I get distracted by shiny new ideas, I want to implement those ideas and get results right away. What I found works best, rather than implementing new ideas that I think will benefit the business, is to let the dust settle.
Give about a week or two, come back to the idea, see how other businesses enrolled that same idea. And if I can do a beta-test on that idea (small scale testing) to run a trial.
Never get romantic about ideas, or novelty.
This was not meant to confuse you. This was meant to inspire you to keep things fresh and novel.
Thank you for reading this post, I have covered similar topics on this subject you can find them here
To be continued….

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Originally published at on December 22, 2016.

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