Everyone has those times in their lives where they feel like they’re “stuck in a rut.” Life chugs along, we’re going through the motions of our daily routines, and one day we wake up and realize that we just aren’t happy right now. Everything is the same, over and over again, and we have no idea what to do about it. Sometimes we’ll try to ascribe some external factor as the reason – the kids are so busy with school and activities you don’t have time to do anything more than what you’re doing, or work is so crazy that it’s all you have in you to keep up. Other times we’ll heap the guilt onto ourselves, for not being enough or doing enough to make ourselves happy.
But the problem here isn’t necessarily what we aren’t doing… it’s what we ARE doing. Which is… the same thing. Over and over again. What’s your favorite food? Would it still be your favorite if you ate it every day, three meals a day, for the rest of your life? Would your favorite movie be your favorite movie if it’s the only thing that ever played on your television? Our routines, our well-worn paths through our lives, are what keeps us feeling stuck. Those routines are our comfort zones – they’re safe, easy, unsurprising, secure. But you know what else they are? Boring. They don’t start that way, but that’s what they become, because they become a mindless practice, rather than a mindful one.
So how do we solve it? We expand, push the boundaries of those comfort zones. It doesn’t have to be all sweeping changes and grand takeovers – though there are certainly times when that could be the most necessary thing. It can be small steps, like going to a different super market, or trying a yoga class that you’ve never been to. You don’t have to take a flying leap out of your comfort zone, a gentle step outside the bubble will do. Try one new thing a week, and see how it goes. Keep what brings you joy, and take what doesn’t as a good lesson.
Eventually, trying new things becomes part of the routine. And you become less afraid to try them. And the magnitude of what you’re willing to try grows. This week might be seeing what happens when you lift both toes off the mat in Crow posture, but next year it could be making the major shift into a passion project instead of your current job. The only way to get there, however, is to try and get used to doing things that are uncomfortable.