The Importance of New Experiences

The overwhelming intensity of first love. The book that stayed with you forever. The movie or song that you were obsessed with. The emotions of new experiences are unforgettable. Moreover, it's never too late to feel them again.
The Importance of New Experiences
Valeria Sabater

Written and verified by the psychologist Valeria Sabater.

Last update: 05 April, 2023

You’re a debutant on the journey of life. This is even more apparent in your youth when, with a mixture of fear and desire, you enter into so many unknown experiences. As a rule, love is one of the most unforgettable. Over time, you improve your skills in this area, thanks to both your disappointments and great discoveries.

Generally, you rarely forget new experiences. Moreover, the neurological mechanism that orchestrates your approach to unexplored life scenarios is mediated by complex neurotransmitters. This explains why, frequently, when you cross the threshold of the safe into the unknown, you experience a curious mixture of fear, insecurity, and attraction.

It’s normal to miss the tingling feeling you experience when you embrace something new for the first time. Indeed, wouldn’t it be great to forget that you’ve read a certain book or seen a particular movie or series, so you could relive those same sensations? In effect, nostalgia is always there. It’s the feeling of approaching for the first time something that’ll mark your life forever, in one way or another.

New experiences make you an explorer in search of emotions, experiences, and learning.

couple experiencing the emotion of the first times
Although your first loves may not have ended well, they’re experiences that you don’t regret.

The thrill of new experiences: the motivated brain

How long ago did you do something for the first time? When did you last learn a new language? Make new friends? Or, even travel to a place you didn’t know? New experiences are the most gratifying kinds. That’s because they outline a series of experiences that we, as humans, should never give up, no matter how old we might be.

Even if you’re in the autumn of your life, loving again, traveling, and continuing to learn are always worthwhile. What’s more, the emotions you feel from new experiences act like vitamins for your brain. They’re like arteries through which your motivation and even your psychological well-being flow.

Although many of your first experiences might’ve left you feeling a little traumatized (like loves that went wrong or wrong decisions you took), if you never crossed those boundaries, you’d have been stuck forever in the waiting room of non-experience. Sometimes, you just need to overcome those barriers and challenge yourself.

Although new experiences are often dominated by some hint of fear or insecurity, dopamine facilitates the impulse and advance toward a new situation.

Novelty, dopamine, and reward systems

The Rotman Research Institute in Canada conducted a study regarding how the brain processes novel stimuli and experiences. These situations ‘illuminate’, so to speak, the brain. It’s activated from the limbic system, hippocampus, cortical areas, anterior and inferior cingulate cortex, putamen, and medial prefrontal cortex, etc.

However, the emotion of first experiences is dominated by a specific neurotransmitter: dopamine. In fact, any new sensation is orchestrated by this neurochemical that modulates multiple experiences. Your mood improves and you feel more motivated and oriented toward new goals.

Furthermore, your feelings of stress are reduced and your mind becomes more creative. This is an undeniable fact. In fact, entering a new scenario is like being tickled irresistibly. Everything becomes possible and, although you may be restless, your positive emotions outweigh the negative ones.

New experiences should never stop

Occasionally, you might feel really nostalgic. It’s a tricky kind of emotion that can make you believe that certain situations will no longer return. It deceives you by telling you that the beauty of some experiences of yesterday won’t ever be repeated. Therefore, you might believe that some loves are unrepeatable and some books and places simply can’t be compared to any others. This could well be true.

However, assuming that you’ll no longer have any new experiences is dangerous. It’s like someone who locks themselves in their house, closes all the windows, and chooses not to live their life anymore. Yet, whether they believe it or not, there are thousands of people, situations, and scenarios with the power to make them feel the pleasure of novelty again.

Remember the tale of One Thousand and One Nights. Scheherazade told the Sultan a story every night, trying to maintain his interest so as not to be sacrificed. In the end, the Sultan’s feelings of pleasure and curiosity, and the desire to hear a new story every day, made him abandon his cruel ideas and he fell in love with the young woman.

As humans, we’re ‘programmed’ to search for and enjoy the new. Curiosity is in our genes. We’re also emotional beings who yearn to feel, in order to live fully.

Routine and the ordinary can be enemies of well-being and personal growth. We must open ourselves up to new experiences, to gain quality of life.

woman feeling the emotion of the first times
Openness to experience and novelty is linked to intelligence.

Intelligence and openness to experience

Interestingly, intelligence is a competence that allows us to solve the most diverse problems for promoting our adaptation. Similarly, we know that the smartest people are those who are open to new experiences. This trend allows them to acquire new learning, which contributes to their advancement and development.

Therefore, you mustn’t deny yourself the opportunity to feel the emotion of new experiences. As we mentioned earlier, you’re still a beginner on the journey of existence. You always have new things to learn, try, and discover. That said, the new can be frightening. However, taking the first step will empower you with new knowledge and the most varied of pleasures.

Final note

Did you do anything today that you’ve never done before? We don’t necessarily mean taking a plane and going on an adventure. In fact, it could be one of the most simple and stimulating new experiences. For example, reading a book, listening to some new songs, signing up for a different sport, or meeting interesting people are all great ways of giving yourself a shot of dopamine.

Childhood and youth aren’t the only times you have new experiences. Moreover, the emotion you feel with them is ageless. These experiences are eternal and accessible to anyone. You just need to go out and look for them.

All cited sources were thoroughly reviewed by our team to ensure their quality, reliability, currency, and validity. The bibliography of this article was considered reliable and of academic or scientific accuracy.

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  • Berlyne D. E. (1960). Novelty, uncertainty, conflict, complexity, in McGraw-Hill Series in Psychology. Conflict, Arousal, and Curiosity, ed. Berlyne D. E. (New York, NY: McGraw-Hill), 18–44. 10.1037/11164-002
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This text is provided for informational purposes only and does not replace consultation with a professional. If in doubt, consult your specialist.