By Kate Silver - This article originally published on Get Old.
We've heard a lot about “bubbles” lately.
It's true that many of us live in our own little worlds—sometimes called “echo chambers” or “silos”—surrounded by friends who share similar opinions and outlooks and even neighbors who may think or even look like us. On social media, we tend to follow likeminded people and can easily unfollow those who aren't of similar opinions.
By getting out of your comfort zone, you can expand your horizons, meet new and interesting people and gain a deeper understanding and even empathy for the experiences that others have. Along the way, you might even learn something. Here are seven ideas to help you burst out of your bubble.
Get out there and talk to people. Go to a restaurant by yourself and be open to having a conversation with a stranger. Take a walk in the park and smile at the people you pass. Visit a business you've never been to. Attend a meetup. Be curious and openminded and invite new people and new experiences into your life.
Try a new language. By learning a new language, you can gain insights into different cultures and people. Down the line, this could make it easier to travel or even talk with people in your own community. Here's a hint: start small. Sometimes, a few friendly words can go a long way!
Take a trip. French author Gustave Flaubert once said, “Travel makes one modest. You see what a tiny place you occupy in the world.” Whether you fly across the world or drive to a town you've never visited (or even part of your own town), travel can help move you out of your bubble. When traveling, you can learn about history, people, food, culture and more. Traveling can be a great way to expand your perspective.
Read a newspaper or magazine you wouldn't normally read. Trade the New York Times for the Wall Street Journal. Exchange the Weekly Standard for The Atlantic. Put down Woman's Day and pick up Ebony. Between the op-eds and the articles, you may discover a subject or way of thinking that appeals to you.
Visit a place of worship different from your own. Many places of worship are open to non-members. Call ahead to a local temple, church or mosque and find out if you can attend services or if there are upcoming talks open to the public.
Switch up your routine. It's easy to fall into daily patterns, which is often what keeps us inside of our bubbles. Make a point to do something different in your daily routine. Maybe that means taking a different route to work, shopping at a new store, trying new recipes or even watching a different news channel. Even the tiniest changes can make a difference in introducing new ideas into your life.
Attend a reading or lecture. Sign up to receive newsletters from your local library, bookstore, museum, community center and colleges so you can stay on top of upcoming events. And don't just attend the ones that appeal to your interests—be sure and check out the ones that seem far removed from your reality. That's bubble bursting 101.
When it comes to gaining a broader perspective, the underlying theme is this: Be curious. Ask questions. Initiate conversations. Seek knowledge. Talk to people who have different opinions than you do. Leaving your comfort zone and entering new territory takes initiative and intent. After all, our bubbles are built on years of experience. They're not going to burst in just one day.