The reason we are so addicted to newness – new clothes, new relationships, new technology, new destinations, new cities – is because when something is new we are forced, or frankly, we choose, to be present as we experience it. We have no prior familiarity, therefore we cannot have expectations, which leads us to come unarmed of any thoughts that can distract us from our experience.
In these moments, while we taste a new cuisine for the first time, or we see a new city, or meet someone new, we are fully there, in the moment. Our senses are hyper aware allowing us to partake in the full experience.
Newness draws our attention to the experience at hand.
But then we eat that cuisine for the third, fourth time and so on, and it doesn’t taste as good. The new city we are living in is not so exciting anymore. The new relationship becomes old, boring, we start seeing flaws.
Then we decide we need to change something, buy something, do something new.
We want that feeling of excitement again.
We want that feeling of full presence.
So maybe we move, maybe we start a new relationship, maybe we change our clothes, our hair, our hobby.
The cycle repeats.
We are addicted to newness, but nothing can remain new forever. New is a very brief occurrence before things become our normal.
We may feel as if we are always chasing after something. And maybe we don’t notice it while we are buying a new shirt, or piece of technology, or whatever the case. But it is a desire to fill a void within us. To bring us a moment of excitement, connection, presence.
And then it fades.
But what if we do not have to continue living in this cycle for the entirety of our lives?
The desire to consume, to buy, to bring new into or lives is not a shared human phenomenon across all cultures. In fact, it may be argued that it is a Westernized phenomenon.
Why is this?
We have been manipulated to think that new is better through marketing approaches to increase profits.
But how can we fill the void within us without repeating the cycle?
Practicing gratitude for what we have is a huge contributor to overall contentment. Some of the poorest places I have been are full of the happiest, and seemingly most fulfilled people. Why? An immense gratitude for the things they have, a willingness to share, and a feeling of presence rather than seeking more.
Perhaps, when we feel a need for something new, or for a change because we are bored, we can take a moment and think of the things we are grateful for. Material objects, sure, but also for the beings in our lives, the relationships, connections, and being alive ourselves.
Perhaps, we can take a moment to notice where we are, what we are doing. We can feel the object in our hands, notice the texture of our food as we chew. Feel the warmth in our bodies when our partner’s eyes light up with laughter.
Perhaps, we can intentionally experience each moment as if it is new. Because, well, each moment is new. And when we invite this way of being into our lives, even if we forget and do so sporadically, this void may begin to dissipate as our presence increases.
Perhaps the more we live with intention to be present, the more we can see that our lives are so very full, and so very beautiful just as they are.