Something New—How to Keep Growing in the midst of Routine
I want to be aware of every day I’m alive.
How open are you to new ideas, new experiences, or new people?
Some people are quite happy with their routine and feel like they don’t need anything new in their lives. But we learn and grow only when we face new things that we haven’t before (see Growth). When we go through periods of routine in our daily lives, it can be too easy to stick with our usual experiences or comfort zones. However, even if we feel like we’re happy with our routine, something new can offer us an element of surprise, excitement, or wonder that can enhance our outlook and mood. This might include meeting someone new or being open to different roles, or it might be a drastic departure from what we normally do, whether personally, professionally, or spiritually.
It might also be as simple as increasing our awareness of the details of our current routine—an openness to the nuances that make each day special and new.
One of the best ways to find something new is to go someplace you’ve never been before. I love traveling, and I love going to places that are completely different from where I live, but “travel” might just be going for a walk in a neighborhood you’ve never been to. The city I work in is highly diverse, and the different neighborhoods offer a wealth of sights, sounds, and smells that are new to me. I hear unfamiliar languages that I try to identify. I see people engaged in their work, and I try to be aware of their approaches and their energy. I regularly engage in this kind of “travel” on my lunch break.
The other end of this spectrum is international travel. If you’re really serious about growing as a person, there’s no better way to do it than to immerse yourself in other cultures. Every moment of every day is new, from the bathrooms, to the food, to the rules of the road, and obviously including the way people interact. Even a short international trip can give you a new perspective on life. However, it’s all too easy these days to engage in international travel without experiencing a new culture at all. It seems the travel industry is geared toward getting people to areas where they don’t have to step too far out of their comfort zone—where everyone speaks English and is aware of your culture and how to make you feel comfortable. You almost have to go out of your way to get off the beaten track and really engage with the locals and learn about their culture. But it’s always worth the effort.
New activities or hobbies
Another way to expose yourself to new experiences is by trying to do something you’ve never done before. Keeping an open mind when faced with opportunities to try new things will result in endless possibilities, some of which could result in new passions. These might include creative activities, such as learning a musical instrument or taking a dance class, or you might try intellectual pursuits, like learning a new language or reading about nature or astronomy. You don’t have to commit yourself long-term to anything you try, but you should be open-minded enough to give it a chance—it may help you grow in ways you hadn’t thought possible.
Expanding our social circle
Part of keeping our lives fresh is trying to constantly meet and engage with new people. There’s nothing more likely to introduce us to new ideas or experiences than becoming part of the life of someone who is new to us. We all have our friends—people we’re close to and who we trust (see Friend)—but if we only spend time with our friends, we can easily stagnate. We may miss out on opportunities that would arise if we were open to new people in our lives. This doesn’t mean we have to be friends with everyone we meet, and it doesn’t mean we have to give anyone we come across unlimited time, but pausing periodically to chat with someone you just met might lead to whole new worlds of discovery and experience, and you might meet a new lifelong friend.
Elderly people are another opportunity that people don’t really think about. It’s an unfortunate fact that the elderly tend to become invisible. Younger people, who are busy with their careers and their families, tend to think of interacting with the elderly as some kind of charitable activity, giving them some of their valuable time. But it’s a crazy idea when you think about it. People who have lived into their 80s and 90s will often have a wealth of experiences, insights, and wisdom. If they’re willing to share their lives and experiences, it’s a valuable gift that we should treasure.
Finding the new in our routine
We don’t have to try something totally different to experience something new. If we’re observant and aware, each moment in our lives is unique, each moment is new. To achieve this outlook, we have to be mindful and open-minded. We have to pay attention to the nuances of our environments, our interactions, and ourselves. If you think about the number of elements in our lives and the range of conditions in which those elements exist, it quickly becomes apparent that every moment is unique and can offer something new.
Think about it. You wake up, and you feel energetic or lethargic. Your thinking is clear or muddled. You feel healthy or not quite yourself.
Your environment changes from day to day. It might be a clear, crisp day that lends itself to an upbeat mood. It might be gray and cold, making your world feel devoid of color or feeling. It might have snowed, and your day is given over to scraping, shoveling, and extreme caution on the road.
Your day has started, and you’re interacting with other people. You might run into an old friend and a warm feeling permeates your mood, or you might run into the same old grumps and you’re merely enduring their presence. You might be interacting with people who challenge you and force you to operate at the height of your abilities.
These are just a few of the variable elements in your day. When you combine them and consider their endless combinations, it’s easy to see why each moment is unique and every day is a new experience.
Your body and spirit feed on the new like fuel. Have something new in your life every day.