Ever noticed how after a while, the things you enjoy can lose some of their appeal? Thankfully, researchers have figured out how to prevent that from happening: do the same things in a slightly different way.

In a new study, Ohio researchers found new enjoyment in popcorn, videos, and even water, when consuming them in an unconventional way.

Like eating popcorn for the first time

The best example is probably popcorn — if you’re like most people, you enjoy it, especially while watching a movie or something that draws your attention. But the enjoyment certainly fades to an extent. After all, you already know the taste and you’re very familiar with the experience. But what if you changed the experience a bit, like for instance, eating popcorn with chopsticks?

“When you eat popcorn with chopsticks, you pay more attention and you are more immersed in the experience,” Smith said. “It’s like eating popcorn for the first time.”

This would explain novelty restaurants (such as pitch-black restaurants) — they change the experience and help us re-learn to enjoy food.

“It may not be anything special about darkness that makes us enjoy food more. It may be the mere fact that dining in the dark is unusual,” Smith said.

Even something as insipid as drinking water can be more enjoyable when done in a creative, unconventional way, the study showed (like for instance drinking water from a martini glass lapping it like a cat). Lastly, researchers also showed that it’s not just about food. Study participants were more likely to enjoy watching videos if they did something unusual such as use their hands as goggles, researchers report.

“They actually thought the video was better because the hand-goggles got them to pay more attention to what they were watching than they would have otherwise,” he said. “They were more immersed in the video.”

It may seem like a pretty prosaic study, but it could make a cheeky difference in our day to day lives. After all, everyone wants to enjoy the daily routine, and there are small things we can do that can accomplish that. For instance, when you’re eating pizza, you could eat the first slice normally, then roll the second one, then eat the third one with a fork and knife.

Don’t like your furniture anymore? Try moving it around in the house rather than throwing it out. You never know how much you’ll like it.

“It may be easier to make it feel new than you might think. It is also a lot less wasteful to find new ways to enjoy the things we have rather than buying new things,” he said.

Personally — I’m drinking water out of a jar for the rest of the day. After all, I have the science to back it up.

Journal Reference: Ed O’Brien, Robert W. Smith. Unconventional Consumption Methods and Enjoying Things Consumed: Recapturing the “First-Time” Experience. Personality and Social Psychology Bulletin, 2018; 014616721877982 DOI: 10.1177/0146167218779823

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