The other day my friend told me her family goes on "adventures" not "vacations." "Vacations," she said, "makes it sound like we are vacating our life." The concept struck me powerfully. How often are we vacating our lives? How often do we want to escape, to get away from our every day? It is all too common to believe we have to over a three hundred days of boredom, frustration, stress, and angst in order to have a few days were we vacate the normal and actually live.
What If We Didn't Need to Vacate Our Lives?
What If These Were the Last Five Minutes?
One of the ways I help my clients shift from feeling stuck to actively living their life is to ask them, "If these were the last five minutes of your life, is this what you want to be experiencing?" When we think we have an unlimited abundance of time, it is easy to say, "I'll stick it through this hard part and then it will get better." This attitude creates victimhood and robs us of the joy we can find in each moment. When you find yourself in a tough situation, stop and ask yourself how you can make it just a little bit better. What would it take for you to actively create a better experience in that moment? Sometimes it is something very simple which can switch the gears from monotony and negativity to a little pocket of joy.
Do Something New Every Day
When we are stuck in a routine, we begin to feel like a robot whose life has no meaning. Look for ways to switch things up a bit. Take a new way to work. Try a new food. Reorganize a room. Change at least one thing in your routine to provide you with a feeling a freedom. In doing so, you will have a new outlook on your day.
Give to Others
When we are down about life, we become obsessed with everything that is wrong. We replay all of the losses and injustices. We are constantly telling ourselves the story of our horrible life. If you are stuck in this cycle, call a friend and ask them how they are doing. More times than not, those we love are going through challenging times as well. Support them. Give them advice or just a compassionate ear. Reach out to those in real need; those in shelters, senior homes, or local children without enough food. I believe it was Mahatma Gandhi who said that serving was selfish; we receive back much more than we give. By noticing, acknowledging and giving to others, we are released from our broken record of a story and can begin to appreciate life again.
Look to the Little Things
When we are down, it is easy to count all the things we don't have, the things we have lost, or missed opportunities. Instead, spend a few minutes every day to write down all you do have. These can be material things or relationships. Write about the things you take for granted every day like the ability to see, hear, walk, and talk. Again, when we are not living our lives, we create stories about how bad we have it. By making a list of how good we really have it, we can stop the stories and begin living our life.
Look to life, every day of your life, as a grand adventure. Stop looking to escape from it. Stop putting up with less than amazing. Your time on this earth is brief and precious. Don't let it go to waste.