What's Next?

As I noted the other day, the desire to know more, do more, and be more than we have known, done, and been is at the core of what it means to be human. Human beings are time travelers. We navigate time and space seeking destinations of our own choosing and design. We are reconfigurers of the universe, transforming the world around us to better resemble the world that exists first in our imaginations.

It should therefore come as no surprise that a tendency to seek novelty is hard-wired into who and what we are.  
Source: Rough and Rede
“Novelty-seeking is one of the traits that keeps you healthy and happy and fosters personality growth as you age,” says C. Robert Cloninger, the psychiatrist who developed personality tests for measuring this trait. The problems with novelty-seeking showed up in his early research in the 1990s; the advantages have become apparent after he and his colleagues tested and tracked thousands of people in the United States, Israel and Finland.
“It can lead to antisocial behavior,” he says, “but if you combine this adventurousness and curiosity with persistence and a sense that it’s not all about you, then you get the kind of creativity that benefits society as a whole.”
Fans of this trait are calling it “neophilia” and pointing to genetic evidence of its importance as humans migrated throughout the world. In her survey of the recent research,“New: Understanding Our Need for Novelty and Change,”the journalist Winifred Gallagher argues that neophilia has always been the quintessential human survival skill, whether adapting to climate change on the ancestral African savanna or coping with the latest digital toy from Silicon Valley.

Novelty-seeking has to be tempered. If we constantly seek novelty in all areas of our lives we're likely to ruin our careers and personal relationships. And we won't see the benefit of any of the new things we try if we don't stick with them long enough to get to the payout. If we always jump to the next new project before completing the one we're on, we run essentially the same risks of lost opportunity that we encounter if we never try anything new.

On the other hand, there has never been a better time than now to seek novelty, simply because there is so much novelty to seek. Accelerating change means accelerating opportunities for growth and achievement. New technologies, new ideas, and new social structures are the drivers. Each day opens up new possibilities for what we can know, what we can do, and who we can be.  

Like our ancestors, we need to open ourselves up to emerging possibilities. This is more than just a matter of survival; it's a matter of realizing our growing potential and maximizing our capacity for achievement and happiness.


Popular Posts