Whenever Barney Stinson says, “I only have one rule,” you know what’s about to follow is most likely crap, not least because he has a million of such “only one” rules. Case in point: “New is always better.”
When his best friend Ted struggles with the decision to tear down a beautiful but run-down hotel in order to erect his first-ever skyscraper, Barney offers this “one rule” as advice. “New is always better, Ted! That’s a rule. Just like bigger is always better!”
Barney being Barney, he of course uses girls as an example. Who’s more attractive than the hottest girl he’s ever slept with? “Her okay-looking friend I haven’t seen naked.” When it comes to sex, the mysterious attraction of novelty can be especially dangerous, and as many a post-cheating divorcee will tell you: New is not always better.
The more Barney claims his ridiculous rule applies to everything, the easier it becomes for Ted to dispel it: What about the new Star Wars movies? What about the new Guns N’ Roses? Would Barney rather have a glass of 30-year-old Glen McKenna or of Jumbo Jim’s Grape Scotch? Regardless of how much he suffers under its law, however, Barney sticks to his rule.
The closer they get to the scheduled demolition of the old building, the more Ted freaks out, and Barney keeps trying to console him with his rule. What if Ted makes all the wrong decisions, and his building will suck as a result? “Not possible,” Barney says. “Your building is new, and I have one rule: New is always better.”
When Ted finally confronts him about his lack of consistency in his “one rules,” Barney seemingly slips up: “Ah, but ‘new is always better’ is my oldest rule, which makes it the best.” Instead of contradicting himself, however, Barney is merely letting on what was his plan all along: To help Ted make a change in his career.
For as much as he is indeed addicted to novelty, particularly in the bedroom, the point of Barney constantly touting this rule was never to imbue his friend with a new life philosophy; it was to get him over the scary threshold of “different.” Most of the time, that’s all “new” is. Different. Not better, not worse, just different. And yet, despite knowing this, we often poop our pants over how exactly things will change. Realizing his friend is paralyzed by fear, Barney wants to make the future look exciting to him. Hence, “new is always better.”
Before he finally presses the button to blow up the old and usher in the new, Ted double-checks one final time: “New is always better, right Barney?” “Always,” Barney confirms, and the bricks fly through the air.
Change is only scary when we desperately wish for the chips to fall in a certain way. You’ll never know exactly where the rubble lands, but if you don’t tear down the old, there won’t be any space for something new, let alone something different or even, dare I say it, better.
Don’t worry so much about how exactly “different” will look. Trust in the potential of new, even if you can’t see it. And if it actually ends up sucking, most of the time, you can go right back to how things were. That’s the other thing about change: It is seldom irreversible — and as long as we have good friends to cheer us on and share it with, it won’t matter if we land right back where we began.