Have you noticed yourself feeling stuck in a rut? Does each day seem much like any other day?
Here’s a simple step towards happiness you can take that will freshen things up a bit: Do something differently often.
Although there’s a scientific explanation, you don’t need to be a brain scientist to benefit. We’re creatures of habit.
Some habits are positively formed – based on doing more of what works. Who can argue with that? After all, once we’ve found a way from Point A to Point B, why would we want to go another way?
Other habits are formed by avoidance. We avoid pain, fear, and the unknown. These types of “safety” habits don’t actually serve us, because they build up our defenses and end up insulating ourselves from living. We end up focusing more on what we don’t want than what will serve us best. This in turn limits our liveliness and happiness.
The brain scientists tell us that our thoughts follow neuronal pathways, the paths that neurons take through our brains and nervous system. These, too, can form ruts, and reduce the number of new pathways and connections we’re making.
Try this (not while you’re driving!)
Fold your hands in front of you, and then notice if your left thumb and fingers or right thumb and fingers are on top. It doesn’t matter which ones are on top.
Now, unfold your hands and fold them differently, so that your other hand’s thumb and fingers are on top. Notice how difficult or easy that was. Notice how that feels to fold your hands differently than usual.
Other simple steps of happiness
- Drive or commute a different way.
- Hold your toothbrush or hair brush with your other hand.
- Have something different for breakfast.
- Order something new the next time you’re in a restaurant.
- Put your shoes on in a different order. If you typically put your left shoe on first, then try first putting on your right shoe.
What this step of happiness does
These are examples of simple steps, and I encourage you to make up your own. By themselves, they may not change your entire life and get you closer to happiness. You may or may not be fully present during each step, and the times that you are mindful are happy moments. As you start doing more new and different things, you’ll start to notice other things you’re doing out of habit. Also, the act of living less out of habit will bring you closer to awareness and mindfulness. You’ll start to notice little things more often. It may not be comfortable at first, and that’s because growth isn’t necessarily about comfort.
Related ideas, quotes, and resources
My entire list of 108 Steps Of Happiness is in a post on this blog – ViewPacific
A related post: Run From What’s Comfortable
If you’re curious about additional resources to cultivate your happiness, here are two books:
- Sixth Maxim: Pay Attention
- Tenth Maxim: Make Mistakes, Please
- 41. Be Less Careful
- 59. Remember, You Get You Make Mistakes
- 96. Walk Through Fear, Again and Again