What does it mean to be “well-rounded,” anyway? It always sounds like something your teachers and grandparents tell you you should be. Turns out, they’re not wrong. But it’s not something boring that requires you to do nothing but watch CNN and read the latest non-fiction. There’s a better way to broaden your horizons and become a better person. You have the chance every day, and the best part is you’ll actually enjoy yourself. Here are some suggestions.
- Play Pinterest roulette. I love Pinterest, and it has nothing to do with wedding planning. Search for any interest and suddenly you’re face to face with hundreds and even thousands of tutorials and ideas. Not sure what you want to try or learn next? Find something randomly on Pinterest and go with it, whether it’s cooking a fancy recipe, trying a DIY project, or even crafting.
- Travel and interact with locals. Usually when you travel, you’re with friends or family. How often do you actually talk to your tour guides, hotel employees, or just random locals you see while you’re out? You’d be surprised how much you learn about another culture just by interacting with those you’ve lived in the area all their lives. Try traveling solo sometime and give yourself a chance to delve into the local culture. This is perhaps the most popular way to broaden your horizons and gain some new perspectives. That’s because it’s one of the most effective!
- Get involved in your friends’ interests. Stepping out of your comfort zone is part of what it means to be well-rounded. Let your friends help you. Ask if you can try out some of their interests with them. You get to do it with your friends while experiencing something new.
- Go to random festivals. I doubt there’s a single day without some type of festival going on. Whether it’s food, music, history, art or something else entirely, find area festivals and go to them. The idea is to simply expose yourself to something new. If you’re traveling, make your plans around well-known festivals.
- Put your skills to use and volunteer. Are you great with animals? Do you love to cook? Part of being well-rounded means interacting with new groups of people and offering your skills to others. Meet new people and help at the same time by volunteering. Besides, it’s just a nice thing to do.
- Learn a new language and use it in that country. How many of us actually remember any of our high school Spanish or French? Yeah, me either. Spend the next year learning a new language and then plan a trip to that country to try out your new skills.
- Join local groups that share your interests. I know I said step outside your comfort zone, but you can still be well-rounded just by learning more about your own interests. Maybe you’re into rock climbing or writing fan fiction. Whatever it is, there’s likely a group nearby or even online for you to join. You’d be surprised just how much you learn by talking to others who share your interests.
- Try a hobby you’ve always been afraid to try. Have you always wanted to dance, but you tend to trip over your own feet while standing still? What do you have to lose? Join a beginner’s dance class. It’s about the experience. Who cares if you’re not a professional ballerina in the end? At least you tried and learned something along the way.
- Embrace the bookworm. Okay, so reading is a super easy way to expand your horizons. Pick up books on things you’re interested in or have always been curious about. Besides, reading is sexy. Trust me, the only thing reading is going to do is make you smarter.
- Do a restaurant tour. Grab your friends and plan a restaurant tour. Skip all your usual haunts and try something new at least once a week. If possible, take a week’s vacation and plan to eat somewhere new every day. The new flavors will make you appreciate a wide variety of cuisines from all over the world.
- Take a museum road trip. Reading a history book might put you to sleep. Visiting museums or historic landmarks is a lot more interesting. Odds are, you have quite a few of both within just a few hours of your home.
- Get app happy. Sometimes all it takes is your phone to become a well-rounded person. No, playing Candy Crush doesn’t cut it. I’m talking about language apps, free online courses via apps, and even international news apps. Spending just a few minutes a day without apps like these is a great start.
- Take classes on any and everything. Check out your local community college or community center. You can take numerous free or low cost classes on nearly anything. You can even check out sites like The Open University or TED Talks for free classes and lectures.
- Start your own business. Really want to experience something new that’ll push you way outside your comfort zone? Start your own business. Suddenly, you’ll have to learn about marketing, finance, customer service, and more. Plus, you get to make money at the same time.
- Help at senior centers. This is an incredible way to broaden your horizons and absorb a bit of true wisdom. Technically, this is volunteering, but working at a senior center gives you a unique opportunity. Many of the older people you’d encounter today have been through the Great Depression, know what the world was like before texting, and have experienced far more than we could ever imagine. Sit down and talk to them. They’ll love it and you’ll leave with more knowledge than any history class could ever teach.
I know the whole “well-rounded” concept sounds boring and difficult, but it’s not. Seriously, we all have at least 5-10 minutes a day to spend on a few of these. Go ahead, try one and see how good it makes you feel.