Having just moved to a new country, I’m currently surrounded by novel sights, sounds and experiences. It’s an overload of new for my brain. However, after only being here a week, I’m surprised how ordinary my house and my street seem. After walking the same route to the train station three or four times, it quickly became boring.
How quickly novelty can disappear as we become familiar with the things around us, and yet how completely stimulated we become when we find yet another brand new experience to have or sight to see.
It turns out, this isn’t just because I’m part of a generation of compulsive email checkers or internet addicts, or because I don’t appreciate life enough. It’s actually hardwired into my brain—and yours—to appreciate and seek out novelty.
How we find novelty
Anything that’s new, different or unusual is bound to catch our eye. A new phone, a new working environment, a new friend. Changing our hair color, wearing new clothes, visiting a new place. In fact, we can even be drawn to novelty without being conscious of it.
Of course, this makes a lot of sense—we wouldn’t get much done if ordinary things captivated us constantly.
The cool thing about this is how intricately novelty seems to be associated with learning, which means we can use this knowledge to our advantage for learning new things and improving our memory.