Green Eggs and Ham – How do you know you like something if you don’t try it?

“You will never know how much you can accomplish until you try. Never stop trying. Your miracle will come in undefined moments.”

― Lailah GiftyAkita

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Green Eggs and Ham – How do you know you like something if you don’t try it?

In the classic book Green Eggs and Ham, Sam persistently tries to get the main character to try green eggs and ham even after the main character repeatedly tells Sam he does not like them. He assumes he will not like the food but finds out after tasting green eggs and ham that he loved the colorful breakfast! How do you know if you like or dislike something if you don’t try it? Frankly, living in your comfort zone is comfortable but it’s not a place where you grow and flourish.

The fact is, trying something new is really the only way to know what the experience is truly like. For example, you can learn by watching a documentary about a different culture but until you travel there, you miss the exposure to different languages, smells, colors, sights, sounds and people. Traveling opens your up your perspective of the world and is transformative.

You may argue, I know what I like and what I dislike! For example, are you pretty sure you would NOT enjoy ice diving? Understandable! When you start to explore new experiences, start with things you think you will enjoy before jumping into a perceived unpleasant experience. Getting out of your comfort zone more often can lead to a willingness to try new things. In fact, as you try different things you may find passions that awaken your senses and make you feel more alive than ever.

Activating activity: Grab a pen and paper and write down anything that you have wanted to try but have not gotten around to yet. Need inspiration?Here is a great list to start from: Fun Activities 

Maybe you don’t have someone around you like the character “Sam I am” in Green Eggs and Ham bugging you to get out and try new things. How do you activate that motivation for yourself to begin to change your patterns and try new things? Could you be in a slight depression? If so, behavioral activation is the best place to start working your way out of depression

Ask yourself: 

  • Do I generally find myself doing very little, with little pleasure or meaning in my life? 
  • Are there times when certain activities make me feel better or worse?
  • When negative feelings or thoughts come up, do I feel better when I can get myself moving and doing something? 
  • Am I having difficulty knowing what I enjoy or find meaning in? 

Therefore, if we do the things we love or try new things we may love, we will have more joy in our lives. Things like anxiety and depression often keep us from doing the things that bring enjoyment and meaning to our lives. This “downward spiral” causes us to feel even worse. Furthermore, we turn to things like TV to feel like we are getting life experiences. By choosing to do more real-life activities (rather than watching TV) we can reverse the cycle of feeling depressed or anxious by using actions and choices.

How are TV experiences different from real life experiences? Think again about the children’s book Green Eggs and Ham. If we saw someone on TV eating this meal, we might think “that looks gross,” but we are only getting the visual side of things. What if the food was in front of us?  We could smell it, we could taste it, we could even touch it. In contrast to TV that only uses people’s visual and auditory senses, real life experiences can use all our senses for a rich and fully immersed impression. In addition, we can use our imagination to gage if we might like something but until you actually immerse yourself in the activity it’s really hard to tell what it will be like. 

For example, I went sky diving when I was in my 20’s and I had an idea of what it would be like. I thought it would be like a rollercoaster, belly flops, thrilling, and fast-paced. Boy was I wrong! In my personal experience, I would describe skydiving as peaceful and scenic. Other than letting go to jump out of the airplane, it was not the adrenaline rush that I was expecting. In contrast, the falling felt more like floating and my stomach didn’t turn. It was an oddly peaceful experience. Do I want to do it again? No, but I am glad I had the experience once!

Often, we MUST force ourselves to try new things and be brave. Remember that anxiety and depression come from the parts of our brain that are trying to protect us. Often the anxiety trick us by saying “stay home” or “just watch TV and stay comfortable!” We should challenge the part of our brain that is telling us what to avoid. Ask your brain, “is there any real threat here?” The world is waiting for us to explore it!

Take some advice from “Sam I am” and see what can activate your experiences. Do you like green eggs and ham on a boat? With a goat? Conversely, what this means outside of a Dr. Seuss book, is finding out what you need to push you out of your comfort zone. Do you need a friend to join you in trying new activity? Perhaps, it takes announcing your intentions publicly to those you love in order for you to follow through. Find out what will make you start to move, and you are halfway there!

What if you hate what you try? That’s easy, don’t do it again and move on to the next thing! The point of trying new things is to learn more about yourself so that you can better understand your own passions and motivations. Part of finding what you love is finding what you don’t like! Therefore, if the green eggs and ham don’t taste good… don’t eat that dish again!

The first 4 steps to getting out of your comfort zone:

1. Start with visualization. If you fear something (like talking to new people) spend a few minutes a day visualizing yourself having an easy conversation with an acquaintance.

2. Do some research. If there is something you are curious to try, spend some time finding out information about the activity and what options you have. Are you worried it’s dangerous? Look at the research to see if your fears have any backbone to them.

3. Schedule it! If you have a plan or a support person to help you try new things, then you are more likely to follow through. Therefore, planning for and scheduling new things is key.

4. Recognize yourself for small steps toward getting out of your comfort zone. Did you try something small that was outside of your comfort zone? Tell the people you are closest to what you are doing and take pride in every little step you take.

As we move through life, there are moments when we look into the rearview mirror and examine our choices. Some people may wish they had taken more risk that added meaning and fullness to their lives. Start by seeking activities that engage all of your senses to have positive life experiences so, when you look in the rearview mirror you have more smiles than frowns.

We all like to be comfortable but adding a little pain to our lives can actually lead to bigger pleasures. Getting out of our comfort zone is a bit painful but it is very much worth what you might find on the other end. So, if you don’t think you like something… “Try them, try them and you may! Try them and you may, I say,” says Dr. Seuss. Have fun exploring

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