25 Increasingly Risky New Things to Try

Feeling stuck in a rut? Explore these new things to try, from eating with your hands to taping your mouth at night, to shake things up and improve your life.


All of the following new things to try changed my life in some way. I like to think they improved it. And most continue to benefit my life today.

I’ve arranged them in order from fun dashes of spice that made my day less bland to enormous changes.

If you find no interest in trying any of them, try this: Get your spouse/friend to pick one for you. Sometimes the actions you least want to take are the ones you end up being the most grateful for having done.

“Quick Experiment” New Things to Try

Spark better conversations.

I introduced conversation starters to my life, and to my then-girlfriend-now-wife Kim, after I read about Art Aron’s 36 Questions to Fall in Love in Chip and Dan Heath’s book, The Power of Moments.

Those questions made for WAY better conversation, made me fall in love with Kim more than ever, and made me fall in love with conversation starters.

One example to get you started:

If you could give everyone in the world one personality trait, what would it be?

Use artificial intelligence for real-life improvements.

This is the newest of the new things to try on this list.

I finally gave into the ChatGPT hype, played around with it, and figured out some practical uses for it:

  • Serving as a diplomate to soften my communication.
  • Defending me from closed-mindedness.
  • Guiding me on tough decisions.

The list of uses keeps growing. Plus, it’s weirdly fun. So if you’ve resisted playing around with AI until now, get off your high horse, get your grandkid to show you where to go, and give it a try.

Eat with your hands cover image of hand beside cutlery
Use the you-tensile on the right.

Eat a messy meal with your hands.

I re-learned the childish delight of finger-feeding myself while traveling in Sri Lanka. There, eating “messy” foods like curry with your hands is customary.

It made each meal literally more sensational, made me more conscious of what I was eating, and seemed to reignite my childhood open-mindedness.

When I later researched the science of taste perception, I learned that eating with your hands can improve the taste of your food. It may even be healthier.

YouTube video
Watch: How to Convince a Man to Sit Down to Pee

Sit down to pee.

I was 30 years old when I was finally manly enough to accept that sitting down to pee is the way to go (…number 1…at home…not in nasty public restrooms or in nature).

It’s less messy (I don’t care how accurate you think you are), more relaxing, and I never have to fight with Kim about whether to leave to toilet seat down.

Chris exhausted on the sand.
Recovering between intervals during a dune sprinting SHIIT workout.

Do SHIIT workouts.

You’ve probably heard of HIIT (high-intensity interval training) before.

SHIIT is the super intense version of that.

Simple example workout:

  • Sprint for a minute as if an ax murderer’s chasing you.
  • Gasp for breath for one minute.
  • Repeat ten times.

Since getting inspired to try SHIIT-ing myself from Martin Gibala’s book, The One-Minute Workout, my cardio has dramatically improved and I feel higher energy all day… except at the end of my workouts, when I’m completely wiped.

Host a “Priya Parker” dinner party.

My experience has been that hosting any sort of dinner party is an improvement over eating at home alone in front of a screen. And I’d argue it beats eating out with friends.

But for a truly memorable get-together that creates a stronger connection with your guests, Kim and I have learned to host Priya Parker-style dinner parties.

This means being intentional about our party’s purpose and planning everything else —who to invite, how to make it happen, where to do it, and what to serve—around that objective. It takes more thinking in advance, but you and your guests will think it’s worth it after.

Kim is so into these dinner parties that she started a blog on the topic, Feed My Friends.

Croissant blind taste test
If you can swallow it, you can blind taste test it. Here, we’re doing croissants.

Organize a blind taste test.

Ever since some friends and I went way overboard with a blind taste test of 36 different beers in college, blind taste tests have been my favorite excuse to get together and get gluttonous.

Kim is on board now, too. It’s our go-to move for making new friends and learning about local foods and drinks in countries we go to (like Colombian aguardiente and cheese).

It’s also the best way to settle an argument when I think Kim’s spending too much money on some hipster, artisanal brand of coffee/chocolate/croissant/sushi.

“Simple Habit” New Things to Try

Intermittent information fasting.

I used to gorge on the bottomless supply of free information in my Twitter and podcast feeds. I dove into non-fiction books deep into the night. And I compulsively snacked on email newsletters throughout the day.

All this information consumption made me mentally and physically jittery. But instead of feeling the urge to cut back, I wanted more and more. I became an information diabetic.

My saving grace?

The birth of my son Zac.

He forced me into an extended information fast.

This break helped me discover a sort of information insulin—a way to filter out nutritious information from the hollow crap that only makes me want more:


Pronounced “wide-body,” it stands for, What will I do differently based on this information?

By applying it, I’ve come to realize that most of the information I was overindulging in wasn’t doing me any good. So I cut back.

Exchange daily gratefuls with your partner.

In November 2015, I started telling Kim a different thing about her that I’m grateful for every day. Thousands of gratefuls later, I’m still going strong.

So is our relationship!

Kim and I agree that our gratitude exchanges have played an important role in keeping it that way.

YouTube video
Watch: The boring way I made my life more memorable

Track your time like an accountant.

Also in 2015, I started keeping a log of everything I do—all day, every day. And, like the daily gratefuls from the previous new thing to try, I’m still at it.

Among many benefits, “lifelogging,” as I call it:

  • Makes me more aware of how I spend my time so I waste it less.
  • Seems to slow time down.
  • Acts as my second brain, preserving valuable memories and information that would have otherwise distorted or disappeared forever.
Kim doing a handstand in Vancouver
Go outside and play—and get fit doing so.

Ditch the gym.

I used to be a biceps-flexing-in-the-mirror gym monkey. And I enjoyed it.

But since I got into working out outside during my pretirement, when I was too cheap to pay for a gym membership, I’ve learned I get a lot more from the fresh air, natural movements (handstands, sprints, jumps, climbs), and absence of creepy guys flexing in the mirror.

Taping my mouth while sleeping

Tape your mouth shut at night.

Taping your mouth looks and feels crazy, but the rewards are worth it, even if you’re already a nose breather.

It was the first of three steps in my self-transformation from fly-swallowing mouth breather to noble nose breather.

Benefits include:

  • Reduced incidence of snoring.
  • Increased nitrous oxide in your blood, which improves circulation.
  • Better temperature regulation.
  • Reduced allergic reactions by filtering the air.
  • Less dehydrating than breathing through your mouth, which causes you to wake up to drink water and pee in the middle of the night.
  • Building the healthy habit of nose breathing throughout the day.
  • Something new to try that motivates you to keep tinkering.
One Chris reading the news, the other relaxing
Try being the guy on the left, not the guy on the right.

Stop following the news so much.

I used to spend a lot of time every day keeping up to date with the news. I believed it was my duty as a concerned citizen. And I thought it made me smarter.

But after reading Stop Reading the News by Rolf Dobelli and going through some thought experiments, I’ve realized it’s in my best interests—and in society’s best interests, too!—to cut my consumption significantly.

“Minimally-Risky Plunge” New Things to Try

YouTube video
Watch: The Unfiltered 3-Day Fast Experience

Eat nothing.

Since I took the plunge with my first-ever three-day fast, I’ve done dozens more. I no longer feel unhealthy food cravings, I get a spiritual and productivity boost every time and, if there’s anything to the hype around the science of fasting, it will rid my body of all diseases and help me live forever.

YouTube video
Watch: Sleeping On The Floor Lessons I Learned The Hard Way

Get off your big comfy bed.

Since I started experimenting with sleeping on the floor, I’ve come to believe, “You are what you sleep on.” And I don’t mean you’ll feel like a million bucks if you spent that much on a mattress.

The opposite.

My body and mind feel harder and more resilient than ever. And my sleep has improved, too (after an adjustment period).

A word from the wise: Don’t go straight to sleeping on unpadded hardwood. Ease the transition. Try a thin mattress on top of a carpet with plenty of padding to start.

YouTube video
Watch: This $100 Plain T-Shirt’s 100% Worth It

Wear merino wool.

I got my first merino shirt a few years ago. Now, all of my shirts are made of the material.

Merino is magically anti-odor, wrinkle-resistant, and insulating. While it’s most popular as a technical fabric for outdoor enthusiasts, it’s becoming increasingly popular in everyday wear.

Here are more pros and cons of merino.

Take on a mini research project.

My first mini research project was on how to change someone’s mind. I’ve since researched topics like changing my own mind, gift-giving, training my sense of taste, and improving my relationship with Kim.

Now, I’m learning how to learn.

There’s no doubt I’m better off for having done these deep dives rather than skimming the surface of a million other topics.

Nature pyramid illustration

Climb “the nature pyramid.”

I’ve never thought of myself as an “outdoorsy” person. But then I read about “the nature pyramid” in Michael Easter’s The Comfort Crisis.

As it happened, I’d discovered the joys of spending time on level one of the pyramid the month before. I’d just finished a 30-day challenge of doing a 20- to 40-minute “empty-pocket walk” every day in the woods or along the beach (another new thing to try, by the way).

Level two of the pyramid is five hours a month hiking, picnicking, biking, or whatever in parks outside of town.

And level three, the peak, is three or more days in the wild. The real wild: no cell phone signal or outhouses.

So when a friend invited me on a 5-day canyon adventure, I was keen to see what the view was like from the top of the nature pyramid.

It was extraordinary. I experienced what neuroscientists call “the 3-day effect” and came away believing that escaping into nature is the most all-inclusive and underrated form of self-help out there.

Urban hike cover of Chris and his dad hitting corner number two.
My dad and I approach the second corner of our urban hike.

Go for an urban hike.

If you live too far from nature, explore the urban jungle at your doorstep.

My friend Dave invited my dad and me to join him for the “Four Corners” challenge: to walk around our square-shaped hometown of Vancouver. It took us over ten hours, almost 57,000 steps, and 50 kilometers (31 miles). We talked a lot but never got bored and gained a fresh perspective on our old stomping grounds, discovering places we didn’t know existed.

Celebrating a successful 30-day challenge

Take on a 30-day challenge.

Yes, 30-day challenges are not a novel idea for a new thing to try. But that doesn’t make them worth considering.

They’re a great way to start developing better habits, work on developing systems instead of goals, and give you positive momentum that will improve your chances of succeeding at larger, longer challenges.

I’ve done tons of 30-day challenges:

And I’ve got dozens more creative, crazy, kinda fun monthly challenge ideas on the docket.

I’m such a fan that I’ve started organizing group monthly challenges with readers.

“No Turning Back” New Things to Try


I pretired when I was 27. By that, I mean I quit working to get a taste of retirement before I had accumulated enough savings to actually retire.

It took a few years and multiple misadventures, but I eventually found my way into a career I don’t ever want to retire from.

Chris and Kim living the high life at a Cape Town winery
Kim and I celebrating having ditched Canada’s cold winters and expensive wine for the opposite in Cape Town.

Move to a new country.

For Kim and I, moving to Medellin, Colombia for six months jumpstarted our life makeover. The stimulation of a different language, climate, and culture and new foods and friends opened us up to trying most of the other new things in this post.

Since then, we’ve moved on to live in Essaouira, Morocco; Valencia, Spain; and Cape Town, South Africa. We’ve fallen in love with the latter and now split our time between there and Vancouver, Canada, “multiliving” as we enjoy perpetual summer.

Have a kid.

Thanks to Zac, I have less money, free time, and sleep, and more worries and responsibilities. He’s made my life objectively worse.

So why do so many new parents say, “Having a kid was the best thing that’s ever happened to me?”

Mostly, I think they’re self-justifying to save themselves from collapsing into an exhausted puddle of diaper lotion.

In my case, my answer is this:

Our goal in life isn’t for it to be as easy and happy as possible. It’s to live a story worth telling. And the ups and downs of having a kid enhance the adventure.

Shotgun Blast of More New Things to Try

  • Ecstatic dancing.
  • An exercise class you’re not used to (acro yoga, spinning, pilates, Tai chi, etc.).
  • Drop into your nearest Toastmasters. (Listen to this podcast episode for inspiration.)
  • Buy some fruit or vegetable you’ve never cooked with before, get a recipe from the internet, and try it.
  • Play a board game with your spouse/roommates rather than watch TV one night.
  • Wake up early and go straight for a sunrise walk.
  • Morning pages: Right when you wake up, unload whatever comes to mind using the pen and paper you’d placed at your bedside the night before.
  • Look up and try camera functionalities you didn’t even know your phone had.
  • Make a bucket list of new things you’d like to try before you die.
  • Plant the seeds of a tree or bush in your backyard.
  • Sit on the floor instead of your couch when watching TV in the evening.
  • Challenge yourself to blow away your record for most steps in a day.
  • Make a “small step” toward an acquaintance you’d like to know better by asking them to do something 1-on-1: a walk, coffee, ice cream, workout, etc.
  • Go for a bike ride meandering around areas of town you never go through.
  • Go on a one-day road trip in a direction you’ve never bothered to go.
  • Head to your local library, ask the librarian for the most interesting book they’ve read, and borrow it.
  • Rather than go to the gym, go to a local park or beach and use your creativity (or this guide) to do an outdoor workout.
  • Challenge a friend to a race.
  • Use these massage tips Kim and I learned on your partner. Better yet, go for massage lessons, like we did.
  • Look up different breathwork or meditation techniques and try the one that makes you the most uncomfortable.
  • Research the backstory and lyrics of your favorite song.
  • Plan a surprise to show your appreciation for someone you might be taking for granted. (Here are some ideas from my “Show-er” challenge.)
  • Join the thousands of people who subscribe to my “☝️ Consider This” newsletter for something new to try or think about every week. Click here to learn more and sign up.

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About the author

👋 I'm Chris. Everything you read on TheZag.com is my fault. This site is like a gym for your comfort zone, full of challenges to make your status quo sexier. Join my 'Consider This' newsletter for a fun new challenge every 10 days. Try it!

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The Zag shares my adventures off of the boring beaten paths of life and ideas for finding your own unfollowable path.