About This Book

When we try new things, we end up feeling energized and pleased with ourselves. There is tremendous power in saying "yes" to new things, new places, and new experiences. The authors of these 101 stories explain how they did it and how good it made them feel, whether it was something as simple as trying a new food or something as life changing as starting a new career. You'll be ready to shake up your own life after reading about their experiences.

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Five ways to energize your life by trying new things

Inspired by the book Chicken Soup for the Soul: Step Outside Your Comfort Zone by Amy Newmark

Whether it’s the little things, like trying new foods, or the big things, like flying to a faraway country, we feel empowered when we do something that challenges us. The 101 stories in Chicken Soup for the Soul: Step Outside Your Comfort Zone will motivate you to seek new experiences, overcome your fears, and broaden your world. Here are five ways that contributors to the book energized their own lives:

  1. Learn to trust the experts. Amy Newmark was shocked when the instructor told her how to fill the parachute with air during her paragliding experience in Oman. "You must run right off the cliff or it won’t work," he said. She had to summon up her courage and trust the expert. She ran right off that 1,000-foot cliff with the instructor, the parachute did indeed fill with air, and she found herself soaring above the Persian Gulf. She says, "I was terrified, but it changed me. Now I know: If I can run off a cliff in Oman, anything is possible."
  2. Reach out and connect with people. Ruth Lehrer was a little concerned when she and her husband moved into a high-rise apartment building after 48 years of living in a house. But she overcame her shyness and started talking to her neighbors as they rode the elevator together. With practice, it became easier and easier, and eventually Ruth founded a weekly discussion group for residents. She and her husband have enjoyed the neighborly interactions they had feared they would lose when they moved, and their big building has become a much friendlier place. "My husband marvels at how a couple of strangers can engage in the short time each elevator trip occurs," she says.
  3. Don’t be afraid to reinvent yourself. As a first-generation American born to Jamaican immigrants, Randi Nelson thought her dream of becoming a doctor was impractical and unattainable. Instead, she worked hard and started a lucrative career working as an accountant on Wall Street. But then her father died, and a year after that she watched the Twin Towers come down five blocks from her office. These two events were the impetus for her decision to take a risk and start over. She took pre-med classes, went to medical school, did her residency, and now works as a pediatrician. Randi says, "Yes, I made some major sacrifices, but I could not be happier."
  4. Be spontaneous. The Facebook post caught Lindsey Knuth’s eye. The hit TV show Empire was looking for extras, but she would have to go that same day. She decided to be spontaneous — she could take the day off from work, and she already had childcare arranged. So she went for it, and e-mailed the producer. Within minutes she was on the phone with the casting director and then on her way into the city. A few months later, she was at the gym when Empire came on the TV. And there she was on the screen, standing right next to one of the stars of the show, Terrence Howard. "Looking back on the experience, I think about how taking one simple chance completely changed not only my day, but my life," she says.
  5. Overcome your fears and take back your life. Rachel Dunstan Muller had always disliked highway driving but she had kept her phobia under control. Then, one day, as she was driving her daughter’s friends to escape a dangerous situation at their home, the stress broke through and she had a panic attack ten miles from home. Soon, Rachel couldn’t drive on highways at all, and she spent many years taking back roads or asking her husband to drive her to faraway places. Finally, Rachel decided that her life had become so constrained that she had to do something. She says, "Fear is a greedy thief: The more territory we concede, the more it takes." Rachel practiced driving one two-mile loop of highway over and over, and she was proud of herself. From there she expanded her territory and reclaimed her life.
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