Get out of your comfort zone and try some of the manual settings. I learn best by playing with them... take an object and start taking pictures of it at different apertures to see what happens to the picture at the different settings. Be sure to write down your settings and find one that you really like and note what that setting is especially the aperture. I found that I like to have my aperture set around f/2.8 and f5.6. The change will be more noticeable if the background is a pattern of some sort.
Then I want you to play with the shutter speed and take pictures of water. You'll find that with the faster shutter speed the water is really crisp and frozen in time. With the slower shutter speed the water will almost look like cotton candy.