I decided to try something new (a mini adventure) and go to a highbrow theatre show. Epic fail!

What I did:

I was so inspired after the 70 looking back challenge that I immediately launched into challenge 3 – try something new. That same evening I booked tickets for Six Characters in Search of an Author. I didn’t set out to see this particular show. I wanted to try something new and going to the theatre isn’t my usual entertainment. Serendipitously I’d heard a little about this play in the radio the week before. I felt like the stars had aligned. The tickets were booked and off we went.

off to try something new - the theatre
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The evening started well enough. We had a cosy (and delicious) dinner for two at a new restaurant (The Potato Shed, if you are interested). I’d heard about it on a Facebook group I’m on. It was delicious and I was happy for the recommendation. That was the high point of the evening. [You can imagine some vaguely threatening music here, if you want.]

It went downhill

We arrived at the theatre. The first stop was the ticket office to collect our tickets. Call me pernickety (and you really should because it’s a great word) but the ticket agent snapping her gum and wordlessly pointing to the reception office pressed my buttons. Not a lot, but enough to get an encouraging hand squeeze from Shannon. We were after all outside our usual haunts and prepared to accept that maybe theatre goers have different expectations of a ticket office. (Although I’m certain that if its not handing out tickets then they might want to consider a different name?)

There are three of four different theatres and they are sign posted by theatre name not production name – for example the Barney Simon Theatre. There isn’t any information, which tells you WHICH theatre, has your show playing. For the next 35 minutes we trekked to different parts of the complex including, at one point their administration offices (less posh than your expect). The warm glow of dinner was fading and we slumped in a corner outside the theatre which was supposedly ours but was, in fact, blocked by construction tape.

Dejectedly we watched a cleaning lady mopping the floors outside the theatre entrance. I was glad that none of my clients were there when she started cursing  patrons who dared to stand on her clean floors. I was decidedly un-“coach” at that moment.  Shannon was smart enough NOT to remind me that I earn a living helping other people self-soothe in situations like this.

I’d had enough and ‘suggested’ we give it a miss. (In reflection I think my language may have been more colourful) and stomped back to the parking lot. At the door a portly man who I’d assumed was a fellow patron, raced up to us  and told us that antics were all part of the performance and to please come back. They, like me, were attempting to try something new.

The impact:

If you asked me last week I would have said that my first attempt to try something new was a fail. On reflection that isn’t true.  At the least I got a mildly amusing story. I think I got more. Looking back I can see the progression from mild anticipation of going to a part of town I don’t often visit to do something new. My fight or flight (in my case fight) response got slightly triggered by the indifferent ticket office. I was more triggered by being sent all over the place. The rude cleaning lady was a ‘point if no return for me’. Even though I know (and use) a heap of self-soothing practises, in that moment came face to face with the act that they were not working. For anyone who gets triggered easily this is familiar territory. The best we can hope for is to go there less often and stay there less long. I did notice that by using humour to turn it into a funny anecdote I felt less shame and less distress overtime for my own ‘acting out’.

The really interesting thing about my fail is that I feel more inclined to try something new AGAIN. Where I expected to feel less adventurous, I feel more adventurous. We are off to a different theatre tomorrow! I admit its to see  musical not something serious!


Sunny with a small chance of cloud.

Why you should try something new to increase your happiness:

The idea behind my ‘try something new’ activity comes from two different pieces of research. The first is that by trying something new we are having an experience. Research from San Francisco State University shows that we derive more happiness from experiences than from material goods. The second idea comes from studies that show that having perceived variety in our activities increases our happiness BUT not for very short term activities (like an hour).

How you can use this tool:

  • Take time to plan an activity that you wouldn’t normally do. Planning and event can increase our happiness as much as the event itself.
  • Plan in advance and savour the activity of organising it.
  •  Make sure that activity isn’t too short.
  • Focus on experiences rather than the accumulation of material goods.
  • Keeping a journal or record of the activity to help you savour the moment.