Know this feeling?
You are in a routine. A rut. You do what you have come to usually do, what became normal and necessary – and you are bored out of your mind. Life is so dull; it’s always the same…
Modern times and media seem to have made that ordinary situation all the worse.
While you live a boring life, the people you see on Instagram or Youtube – not to forget TV – seem to have such interesting and exciting lives.
While you can hardly be bothered to crawl out of bed in the morning, let alone be functional before your first cup of coffee, they seem to jump right into entrepreneurial ventures or a mountain trail run into the sunrise or a similar sort of adventure.
While you are stuck in one familiar place, they are globe-trotting from one exotic location to the next.
While you have the ever-same faces, same-old routine, boring places, they face their fears and sample the best the world has to offer.
Well, that view of other people’s lives tends to be based on the very limited selection of insights we get into these other people’s lives – the “old” Facebook effect – anyways…
That criticism is not where I’m going with that, however. It’s only too common, and it hardly helps.
There is another issue.
We should not only avoid jealousy of what other people seem able to do because of some notion that they are just presenting themselves that way (which might actually be a helpful thing to do).
Maybe we should reconsider trying to emulate them for another reason altogether:
Breaking out of routines and into the excitement of a totally different situation is easy.
Getting attention and praise for being extraordinary – the fastest runner, the ‘biggest loser’ in terms of weight loss, the greatest… pretty much whatever, as long as it is good and enviable… is easy.
But, it doesn’t last.
You go on some training that is supposed to change your life, and it seems life-changing while you are in its novel context – but as soon as you get back into your usual circumstances, nothing has changed.
You go somewhere on a trip, change your situation, become an expat or a lifestyle nomad, and of course things seem different – and then you get used to that new way of living.
You are the greatest one day, but it’s all just normal the next. Or the day after that.
No, what is really hard to do is making a change, shifting things for the better, in your normal life and your daily routines.
What is really hard is not to leave friends or a partner who are holding you back, but sticking with friends and a partner, and making things better anyways.
It is the hardest, after all, that we always remain ourselves no matter how much we may wish to be someone different.
Just consider the way new year’s resolutions always go: They aren’t usually all that great in terms of the change they would require, but they would require sticking to something, as a routine, in everyday life – and they are much too diffuse for that, too boot.
We will not get there easily, not manage in every respect, however – and not by great force of will and the absolutely and totally greatest of feats, in all likelihood.
Rather, what it will take are small steps. They won’t make for the great and immediate change that everyone applauds – but taken in such ways that they become a new normal, they will lead to better.
It is here, actually, that change will have the most positive and most pervasive effect – even if it may feel like the smallest and least world-changing of things: in our daily, normal, average lives. In our routines and everyday responses.
After all, though it may be cliché, even the greatest journey begins with a single step. And it goes on only as long as one step follows another.
Small differences and slight changes, in their cumulative effect over long times, will make for a world of difference, and the really hard – but worthwhile – thing to do will turn out to have been the small change that seemed to be too little to do much, but changed things at their very foundations.