It’s so easy to get stuck in a rut. Maybe for a day or two. Or as weeks bleed into months and nothing much happens.
You just trudge along. You go through the motions, life is on autopilot.
It feels OK. But at the same time you have a small voice whispering at the back of your mind.
It says “It’s time to make a change”. Or “When will I start to truly live my life?”.
In this article you’ll find 29 suggestions and reminders that can help you to stop going through the motions. To disconnect the autopilot and to come alive again.
In both bigger and smaller ways.
I hope you’ll find something here that truly resonates with you.
1. Appreciate what you have. When you are stuck in autopilot then it is very easy to forget to be grateful for what you actually have. The basic fundamentals that so many people lack, the people who like or even love you and the amazing wonders of the modern age. Appreciate them now, not with regret when things may have changed later on.
2. Find the optimism. Become more aware of the negative thoughts you have and don’t let them drag you down. Instead, find one thing that is positive or helpful in the long run in the situation you are in. Then build on that. The more you do it, the more this kind of thinking will become a habit and soon your mind will start reacting in a more positive and constructively imaginative way no matter what situation you find yourself in.
3. Have a day of smiling. Instead of just going along in your usual way take a day off from that. And smile towards everyone you meet. The lady in the checkout line at the supermarket, your co-workers and the people closest to you. How does that affect how you feel about yourself and your life? And how does it change your interactions and day?
4. Eat something else. If you usually have the beef for lunch then go for the fish. Or the vegetarian dish. Or try something you have never eaten before and see what happens.
5. Listen to something else. One of the simplest ways to burst of out the same old rut is to find something new to listen to. Like with the food, take one or more steps outside of your comfort zone. Your taste in music may not be as narrow as you believe – that has certainly been the case for me – and this simple thing can really expand your horizons.
6. Slow down. When you slow down you naturally connect better with what is happening inside of you and outside you in this moment. What happens right now becomes more vibrant and not hidden behind thoughts racing in your mind about the past or a possible future. Slow down to enjoy the moment and to not miss life while you are planning for the future or reliving the past.
7. Enjoy the small things. This becomes easier when you slow down. There are so many small things happening all around that you may miss out on if you rush quickly to the next thing. So take the time and use your attention enjoy the small things. A long hug, a walk in the woods, a sunset or the full moon rising among so many stars in the night sky.
8. Be your own best friend. When you stumble, when you fall and when you have a dream then cheer yourself on. Instead of beating yourself up or talking yourself out what YOU deep down want. It makes life so much lighter and happier.
9. Be you. What do you want out of life? What do you want more of in your life? Take some time to think about it and just for a little while forget what your parents, partner or boss might want. Sure, you might have to compromise on some things. But don’t let anyone else run your life and run over your dreams. This is in the end your life to live.
10. Forgive. When you don’t forgive someone then you are stuck in negativity and suffering even if the person who wronged you may have moved on. So you don’t have to forgive to be a good person to someone else. Do it for yourself. To be your own best friend. For your own happiness. And for the rest of your years and decades on this earth.
11. Disconnect. When we are online and sitting in front of a computer or a smart phone during so much of our day then it is easy to miss what else we can do with our time and attention. So disconnect more to connect in real life more fully. Disconnect to find other activities you may want to try. Disconnect to just get a break and to come back on Monday or a few weeks later with renewed enthusiasm and energy.
12. Feel the pain. Not all days will be great or fun. Suffering is a natural part of life too. We lose people in our lives for different reasons. We lose our pets. We lose our jobs or get sick. And sometimes we just have a terrible day. Don’t try to escape it but feel it. It is a part of fully living and the deeper the pain carves for a time the more joy and appreciation of life and what you have you’ll be able to hold later on.
13. Exercise. You are not just a mind. You are a body too. So take care of it. Do some pushups. Go out walking or running for just a bit at first. Play a sport. You’ll come alive more and your mind will become more relaxed and focused too.
14. Find your passion. Painting. Making and performing music. Writing. Playing soccer. Helping people out. Traveling. Being the best parent you can be. Or something entirely else. Explore what you are passionate about and make sure you regularly free up time and space for it in your life.
15. Let go of filler-activities. So how do you find more time for your passions and for finding new ones? By letting go of some filler-activities in your life. Disconnect more often. And watch a few less hours of TV each week. Stop playing that videogame that you aren’t honestly that enthusiastic about. If a book is not good you do not have to finish it. Don’t just go through the motions here either; rethink how you spend your free time and energy.
16. Travel. I love traveling, seeing something new and I highly recommend it. No matter if you go to a country half a across the world. Or discover a town or beautiful small spot in nature much, much closer to home. There are, in my experience, usually more wonderful places nearby than you might think.
17. Take a chance. Ask someone out for a date instead of hesitating or waiting around any longer. Start your own side-business based on your passion. Start writing that book you have in your head and when you are done and if no publisher is interested at the moment then self-publish it on Kindle and other platforms.
18. Let go when you have no other way forward. Sometimes things do not work out in a relationship, at a job or in your side-project or business. You try to fix it, to mend things, perhaps to grow it in a new direction. Sometimes it helps. But not always. It just gets worse and worse. Then you may try one last time. Or you move on because it is time to start over and to create something better.
19. Build and cultivate an environment that will support and lift you up. The people you have close by and a bit further away from you and the information you let into your life will have a huge effect on your outlook and what you focus on and take action on. So choose wisely. And spend more of your time and energy with the people and information that lifts up and makes you come alive.
20. Make someone you love come alive with an unexpected gift. It could be a bouquet of flowers you went out picking in the spring grass. A note with a kind and loving message hidden in your partner’s or child’s lunchbox or book. Or a dinner that is ready as she or he arrives tired from work or school. See him or her come alive with big smile and feel how you come alive too.
21. Take a different route home. If you always take the same route home from school or work then do something different today. Walk, drive or ride your bike on a route where you have never been before. See new things instead of spending your time going home in your head going over the day or your plans.
22. Declutter. Simplify and change your environment to nudge your thoughts in a new and clearer direction too. Pick one small part of your home for example. Then go through each item there and ask yourself: Have I used this item in the past year? If not, give the it away to charity or a friend. Or you can simply throw it out.
23. Have a day of kindness. Take a break from the criticism, sarcasm and irony. Just for a day. And instead be kind, friendly and understanding as best you can to everyone you meet that day, including yourself. And see what happens.
24. Start with a morning ritual for clarity. Wake up slowly. Perhaps reflect on a few things you are grateful for. Sit in silence and calmness for just a minute or two before you start your day. Setting the tone for the rest of your day like this makes it easier to stop, reflect and to enjoy and appreciate what happens as you move through it.
25. Face a fear. You don’t have to leap right into it at full speed. Instead, if that feels too scary, take one small step forward. Then another one. It might be both scary and exciting but not so uncomfortable that you back down.
26. Spend your weekend in a way you usually don’t. If you usually stay at home and don’t do much besides reading and watching a movie or two then fill your next weekend with a few activities you rarely or never do. Like going on a trip. Hiking. Going down to the pub or a restaurant and drinking the finest beers or wines in company of a good friend. If you usually fill your weekends with activities away from home consider just taking it easy with a book on the couch.
28. Run in the rain. Do something that might not feel like something you would do. When everyone else are happy to be inside and watching TV under the blanket as the rain smatters on windows lace up your shoes. And go out running for a few minutes while feeling every drop hitting you.
29. Free up some time for lazying around or having fun. It is easy to get lost in just serious thoughts or in being productive. To not make room in your schedule for much more than that. But you may need something else from time to time and so make room for that too. It could be a tickle-fight. Or simply lying in the grass for a while doing nothing and watching the clouds drift by.
30. Just do something new. I have already mentioned eating, listening etc. to something new. Don’t just stop there. Think outside the frame I set in this article. Do something new, no matter what you are interested in. The important thing is that you take a look at where you are or what you are curious about and then explore or expand upon one thing and see how it makes you feel. How it makes you come alive with a smile again.
“Don’t ask what the world needs. Ask what makes you come alive and go do it. Because what the world needs is people who have come alive.” Howard Thurman
“The proper function of man is to live, not to exist. I shall not waste my days in trying to prolong them. I shall use my time.” Jack London
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