Sometime in my late twenties, I got stuck in a rut. My days and weeks all started to look the same: I would get up, go to work, go to one of three favorite restaurants for lunch, go home, make dinner, watch Netflix, go to bed… and do the exact same thing the next day. And the next. What’s worse—my weekends differed only slightly despite living on the doorstep of New York City.
When I heard that my Washington, D.C.- based sister was planning to move back to our small hometown, I balked.
“What are you doing that’s so great where you are, Kelli?” she asked pointedly. “You can eat at the same restaurants and binge watch Netflix anywhere.”
Sisters can say things to you that other people can’t. And let’s face it, she was right. My life was predictable and boring, which probably accounted for why everything felt lackluster. And, as my sister so perceptively noted, I couldn’t blame this on my location or circumstances, because it was entirely self-inflicted.
It turns out, getting stuck in a rut isn’t that uncommon. As Tania Luna and LeeAnn Renninger note in their massively inspirational title Surprise, we are often lured in by the comfort and structure of routine. Yet, this under-stimulating lifestyle has all kinds of unpleasant side effects, including depression and relationship dissatisfaction. And since we don’t need to live in a big city or be in a traveling profession in order to live a life of excitement, there are a number of things we can do to shake things up a bit and experience the delight of the unexpected. Here are just three (of several!) ways to make life a little less boring:
- Try something different at lunch. I really took this one to heart! And anyone can do it. If you brown bag your lunch, go out once a week. Resist the urge to go to a drive-thru. Order an entrée you’ve never tried, venture into a different part of town, or even invite a different co-worker to try something new with you.
- Don’t Google away delight. Oh, I am so guilty of this one. But if you Yelp everything before you go (whether it’s a meal, a bed and breakfast, or an entertainment venue), you are robbing yourself of the thrill of discovery. Make like it’s 1983, get in your car, and just let yourself try something without reading the reviews first.
- Give just because. There is a lot of joy in surprising someone with an unexpected gift. Don’t wait for an occasion (and don’t go overboard!). Stop by a friend’s office with her favorite cookies or bury an image of a laughing cat at the end of an email to your coworker. Their delight becomes yours, as well.
post by Kelli, nonfiction reader, skeptical spiritual seeker, reluctant Pisces, and blocked artist
These tips were all pulled from Surprise, available from these and many other retailers: