This may be one of the most powerful shifts in mindset you can make in 2024:

“The real voyage of discovery consists not in seeking new landscapes but in having new eyes.”

I’ve been thinking a lot about this quote from French novelist Marcel Proust over the past weeks as I found myself in familiar places that felt different this time around.

I’d like to suggest it can also be a transformative way of thinking about how you spend your time in 2024 – by prioritizing depth over novelty.

Let me explain.

In many ways, modern capitalist societies encourage us to constantly seek out new experiences, destinations, and products. ‘New’ is better, while ‘familiar’ is seen as boring and unexciting.

Of course, seeking out new places and experiences can enrich our lives. But there’s also a risk that it results in a shallow pursuit of novelty at the expense of depth and meaningful engagement.

Worse yet, our cultural obsession with novelty can leave us chronically unsatisfied, forever on the lookout for something new to fill the void rather than cultivating curiosity for what’s right in front of us.

We end up swiping our lives away, literally and metaphorically, always jumping to the next thing without pausing to appreciate and fully immerse ourselves in our surroundings.

It is here that we can take wisdom from Proust.

Familiar doesn’t need to mean boring. In fact, there’s joy and meaning to be found in deepening our understanding of familiar landscapes.

I was reminded of this timeless wisdom as I explored Hong Kong over the past weeks, spending more time in the city after a brief initial visit in 2016.

During my first trip, I was in a rush to capture all the popular spots with my camera, intoxicated by the newness of it all. It was an exciting but ultimately superficial experience.

This time I took things at a slower pace, revisiting the same places under different conditions and exploring them from different vantage points. I also met with many wonderful people in the local neurodiversity community, adding a deeper layer of connection. It was a much more rewarding experience, even though the novelty had worn off.

When I look back on photos from my first trip to Hong Kong, I see only impressive buildings. Now I see the people living in those buildings. I see their hopes, dreams, and struggles. Same place. New eyes. Different experience.

It reinforced my determination to prioritize depth over novelty in 2024.

There are simple ways you can practice this shift in mindset:

  • Why not rediscover the charm of a destination you enjoyed last year and delve deeper into its local culture?
  • Why not re-read some of your favorite books to unearth new insights you may have missed the first time?
  • Instead of constantly chasing new skills, why not focus on mastering the one you’ve already been working on?

The allure of the new can be tempting. But it’s depth that nourishes the soul. And the real magic is often in the familiar.

This photo, “After sunset”, is available for print in a variety of sizes. To receive more stories like this in your mailbox, please subscribe to my newsletter.