Always having 'the usual'? Here's why you should try something different

MANILA, Philippines – "I'll have the usual."

We would often hear someone say this line in movies. And many of us are dying to say this ourselves as much as we want to tell a cab driver to "follow that car."

You might want to just gun for the car chase, though. Research shows that always having 'the usual' might be the reason why we’re not as happy. 

A study by W. Richard Walker from Winston-Salem State University et al. suggests that people are more likely to feel good about their lives if they have a repository of positive memories. And positive memories usually spring from new experiences.

Yes, we feel happy every time we order the same pepperoni pizza but we would get a different kind of sensation if we would perhaps try shrimp and garlic. 

And if our well-being depends on our memory then we might want to keep it working properly. A study by the University of Edinburgh found that trying new things also boosts memory. The findings say that if an experience grabs your attention, whether it’s a positive one or not, the brain releases memory-boosting chemicals. One of these is dopamine – the chemical behind every motivated person.

“Little surprises happen all the time in subtle ways that reflect our personal lives and interests.  Somehow, the novelty of surprise creates a halo of better memory for all the otherwise trivial events of one’s day that we ordinarily forget,” said Richard Morris, professor at Centre for Cognitive and Neural Systems, University of Edinburgh.

Break the routine

You know that you don’t have to rely on another person for these “little surprises."

You can surprise yourself by wearing neon pink lipstick to work instead of your usual nudes, going to the sci-fi shelf instead of fiction, or booking a flight to Bukit Lawang instead of Bali, Indonesia on your next trip.

And on your next night out, skip the bar across your office. Check Google for a list of underrated bars nearby and schedule a drinking sesh at each one. Or if that’s inconvenient, order drinks other than your usual beer, at least. 

Try the premium beers of San Miguel which have been consistent awardees of the prestigious Belgian competition, Monde Selection. Surprise your taste buds with the crisp and clean taste of San Miguel Super Dry, the full flavor with balanced bitterness of San Miguel Premium All-Malt or the sweet taste of roasted malt (with rich caramel undertones!) of Cerveza Negra.

Whether that night out is supposed to be chill or walwalan, it’s already guaranteed – this is backed by science – to be a night to remember.

Making little tweaks to your routine can turn a dreary day or night out into something worth tweeting about – and probably something to keep your plans with friends from becoming simply just plans that never happen.

So, every time you’re tempted to refuse the menu because you’ll just go for your usual order, remember that life is too short to not sample the many things this world has to offer. —

Marj Casal

Marj Casal heads the content team of BrandRap, Rappler’s sales and marketing arm. She helps create native advertising campaigns for brands like San Miguel Brewery, Shell, GCash, Grab, BDO, and more.