Humans are designed to survive, it’s true; but we are also designed to try and make things as comfortable for ourselves as possible. That means that if we achieve some measure of normality in our lives, our mind can quite often be tempted to stay put.
This tendency means that we often miss out on greater happiness and a more interesting life, because our old evolutionary brain is saying – we’re safe and pretty happy here – don’t rock the boat if you’re in it.
And, to a certain extent, if you are happy there’s no major reason why you should have to fight for more. It’s rarely that simple though – even if your life is more than adequate, it’s easy to start feeling like we are a stagnant pond.
When you think about it, if you are happy and life is going OK, we shouldn’t have to strive for more. As animals, that’s all we really need – safety, warmth and food. It’s important to keep that in mind. At the same time, because of the way culture has progressed, we also know there is a wealth of achievable things in the world. It would be a waste of life not to shoot for something better than OK.
So, although unsticking yourself isn’t necessarily an essential thing to do, it can be beneficial and life affirming.
Everything Starts With A List
If you’re looking to get out of the rut you’re dwelling in, start simple. Make a list. They’re much more powerful than most people give them credit for. Sometimes, even if you don’t know why you are starting a list, you can find it spilling over 4 sides of A4 in a matter of minutes.
So get a pad and a pen, sit in a quiet room, and let your brain splurge. See what your unconscious wants from life. And don’t try and be realistic; really let your brain have free reign.
You might find that nothing particularly ground-breaking comes from the list, but I guarantee there will be at least one discovery. Your subconscious rarely gives you the whole story unless you allow it to run wild.
Rediscover Your Passions
It is rare in life that anyone follows their passion and makes a career of it. No matter what Simon Cowell says, even if you are a kick-ass singer, you are incredibly unlikely to make any money out of it.
It’s a sad fact that the arts rarely pay their way, but hey ho, that’s life.
Because of this, loads of people completely give up on their passions – this is wrong. However you have forged your career, you should always find time for your passion and creative urges.
Try to reconnect on a regular basis with things that make you feel alive. Whether it’s running, jumping, guitar, crochet, rock climbing, mathematics or train spotting – just do it.
When life is OK and everything feels fine, we can be happy, but following passions are the cherry on top, they’re the bloopers reel that’s funnier than the rest of the film, they’re the last can of cider at the back of a fridge. If we skip passions because they are not financially viable, our souls will be forever poorer.
We shouldn’t give up our accountancy job to become a guitar hero, but strumming some chords should be a part of our life.
Face Your Fears
Quite often, people who feel stuck in life believe that they are stuck because there is something that scares them. When fear holds us back (especially unjustified fear) it can really make you feel trapped.
Being trapped by fear is frustrating and can damage our mental wellbeing – it makes us feel like we’ve failed.
Being scared of stuff isn’t failing though, it’s just another part of life. Fear is natural, fear is normal, it’s just that sometimes it appears for no good reason and prevents us from enjoying ourselves.
Regardless of what you are scared of, start chipping away at it. Ask yourself why it is that you are so scared of whatever it is, and start working against it.
Each day push yourself a little further until the fear starts to deflate. If you are frightened of meeting new people – join a club. If you are scared of talking in public – talk in public. If you are scared of being alone – join a dating site. If you think that your art/music/fashion/poetry is rubbish – publish some.
It’s only by head-butting our fears into submission that we can defeat and overcome them. Most fears are unnatural and overblown; if we keep that in mind, we can slowly weaken them.
Break That Routine
Really, this point might be all you need. You probably feel stuck in a rut because you are stuck in a routine. Routines can be really comforting – there are no surprises, things move slowly and evenly, and everyone knows what’s going on. However, routines, if they are followed for too long, can also be life sapping and boring.
If you feel that your routine is a major part of why you feel stuck – change it.
You might say “but everything runs like clockwork, why would I change it?” Well, fair enough, but if you’re reading this you obviously want change, and this is a way to achieve that. If you alter you routine and everything goes tits up, you can just change it back. The very fact that you are so concerned about altering your routine means that it is time to change it.
If you are particularly worried, just do something really simple – wake up 10 minutes early. Perhaps have one less coffee before work. Walk into work or cycle rather than getting the bus. Catch an earlier train. Start eating something new for breakfast. Instead of getting in from work and crashing on the sofa, read a book, listen to a band you’ve never heard before, watch a documentary. Take the long way home.
All of these are super simple things that take zero effort but will make you feel like something is changing.
Sometimes you only need a small change to inspire your brain in other ways. Once it has started operating outside of the standard loop, it is off the chain. It can fly anywhere. You have given it carte blanche.
So, even though waking up slightly earlier and reading a book sounds like it will make no difference at all, it can (sometimes) set off a chain reaction; it allows your brain to get busy, and once that guy is spinning freely again, who knows where you will end up!