Breaking Out of a Rut

by DavalosMcCormack on October 27, 2008

Many of us are creatures of habit. Take me for example. Left to my own devices I would probably live life doing the same things over and over again. There are a few restaurants I really like and keep going back to, eating the same dishes over and over again. It’s not a  bad thing, but it does really limit you to new experiences. And if that applies to something as easy as restaurants, you can bet it applies to many other aspects of life too.

Shirley is very different. She’s always interested in trying new things, new restaurants, new foods, new experiences. Sometimes it doesn’t turn out so well. She ends up eating a bad meal, seeing a bad movie, listening to a boring lecture. But more often than not she finds something different, fun and fascinating.

And even if it is really bad, then she gets a great story out of it (have you ever noticed how the best stories spring out of the worst experiences!)

I try to learn from her, to open myself up to new ideas and experiences. It turns out it’s not that hard and it can be a lot of fun. The secret is to reject that first, automatic, ‘no’ that pops into your head when someone suggests something new and novel.

Think about it. If the only reason you aren’t interested is because you have never tried it before, then try it.

That applies to everything from a new movie or book to a new exercise routine. Trying new things opens our mind up to new possibilities. Trying a new dish in a new restaurant can expose you to taste sensations you’ve never experienced before – who knew you could do that many things with a pomegranate?

Trying a new exercise routine can open you up to new ways of moving, new ways even of thinking about exercise, not to mention new muscle groups that will hurt the next day. I found that out when I tried Dragon Boat racing.

There are many studies that show that constantly challenging our brains is good for them. Trying to learn a new language or doing crossword puzzles are like mental aerobics that help our brains stay healthy and agile. The same is true for the rest of our body. Trying different things can give you a fresh zest for life.

I know some people who pretty much stopped listening to music in the 1970s. They loved Motown music and decided that there wouldn’t be anything that good ever again, so that’s all they listen to. Now, they’re quite happy with their decision but think of all the great music they’ve missed out on, the songs, the groups, the singers they’ve never even heard of.

It doesn’t take much to open your ears to new music, but first you have to open your mind.

One of my favorite birthday cards shows an elderly woman, dressed very nicely, almost as if she is going to church. She looks as if she wants to cross the road but there’s a big puddle right in front of her and the photo catches her as she’s just about to jump over the puddle. She has the biggest grin on her face and the caption says “Ever notice how ‘what the heck’ is often the best answer”.

So, say ‘what the heck’ more often. I am trying to. You’ll be surprised how much fun it can lead to!

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