Do you prefer novelty or familiarity?
Some people love going to the same restaurant and ordering the same meal, because they know exactly what to expect. They’ll re-read a dog-eared copy of a beloved book, and they’ll catch a long-beloved movie any time it’s airing on TV.
Others live for novelty: If the server offers a second round of drinks, they’ll order something new, even if they enjoyed what they had before—simply for the joy of mixing things up. They’re always taking a new class, joining a new club, or trying a new workout.
Neither approach to life is inherently better than the other. And of course, most people don’t adhere 100% to one side or the other in every area of life. We’re all dynamic blends of various tendencies. And yet, research suggests that we each lean heavily toward either novelty or familiarity.
These tendencies aren’t always as obvious as they might seem. You could go to the same restaurant every Friday night for thirty years and still be a novelty seeker because you’re always trying something new. And you could do a new workout every week and still be a familiarity seeker because you always finish it up with a swing through the steam room followed by a double espresso.
Which type do you think you are? And what lifestyle choices do you make to cater to that tendency? Would you ever push yourself to explore the other tendency?
What about the other people in your life? Which side do they lean toward? Novelty seekers can help familiarity seekers push out of their comfort zones and explore new experiences. Familiarity seekers can help ground novelty seekers and give them permission to dive deep into their authentic preferences.
Understanding our tendencies can help us get more out of life and spend more time doing things that bring us joy. And whichever way you lean, that’s what we’re all looking for.