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Eating Popcorn With Chopsticks: How Adding Whimsy to Your Routine Can Improve Your Life


If you’re wondering how to find joy again in things you used to love, the trick might be to experience them in new ways. Though that might sound challenging, new research suggests that it’s a lot easier to do than you think. And if it makes you smile, it’s definitely worth your time.

For instance, imagine eating popcorn with chopsticks. We know that it might seem odd to eat “finger food” with wooden utensils, but that’s exactly what participants did in a June 2018 study published in Personality and Social Psychology Bulletin.

Of 68 participants, half of the people ate popcorn one at a time with their hands, and the other half of the group ate the crunchy kernels with chopsticks. Afterward, the folks who ate it in the unconventional fashion reported enjoying it much more than the traditional way.

“When you eat popcorn with chopsticks, you pay more attention and you are more immersed in the experience,” study co-author Robert Smith, PhD, said in a press release. “It’s like eating popcorn for the first time.”

While you probably don’t need to be convinced to enjoy popcorn (especially since it can be equally delicious and nutritious), this method can be easily applied to many other different situations.

Perhaps there’s an old hobby or activity you used to do all the time, but you consider it more work than play now, such as writing. Maybe instead of using a pen or pencil, you could try using paint or another illustrative tool to get your words flowing on the page again.

Or maybe there’s a table you used to love in your kitchen, but it’s just not fitting with the rest of your new decor. Instead of selling the piece of furniture or giving it away, why not try simply moving it to another room? It may find a new home in your living room or even your bedroom.

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

As the ancient proverb goes, don’t knock it til you’ve tried it!

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