What are you practicing?1
Right now, every single person on planet Earth is practicing living.
If you practice being open and adventurous, you will get better at it.
If you practice staying the same, then you will get better at that.
The more you practice doing what you’re currently doing, and being who you’re currently being, the more you will experience exactly the life you are currently living.
The particulars may change, but the overall flavor and texture of your life will become extremely familiar to you. You will become an expert in it.
That’s fantastic if you’re living a life that is filled with excitement and challenge and variety and possibility.
Unfortunately, many people wake up one morning to find that their life doesn’t taste quite as good as it used to. They feel a loss of energy and enthusiasm for things they used to enjoy, and at the same time don’t feel like doing anything else.
They may begin to think that this is just how it works. That life eventually grinds down into a predictable routine, and that’s that.
Some people become so proficient at living the life they’ve always lived that other alternatives seem unavailable to them.
The option to do things differently, even if it would be far more fulfilling or beneficial, appears completely out of reach.
This isn’t true of course, but it starts to look that way because the range of things they’ve been practicing in their lives has been overly repetitive and narrow.
It’s worn a groove in the mind.
After enough time spent down in this groove, it becomes very difficult to see that there are possibilities outside of it. The longer a person stays there, the more blinded to alternatives and committed to sameness they become until it’s all they can conceive of.
This goes much deeper than just settling into a rut with a job or a relationship or a way of living. It goes right to the core of who we think we are, and what we think we’re capable of.
The more we focus on staying the same, the more tightly defined our image of ourselves becomes. The result is the sensation of having less and less room to move.
When people practice the same types of actions and reactions and thoughts and emotions over and over and over for a long time, they get very, very good at them.
So good that they become automatic.
It starts to feel like “it’s just the way I am.”
Which hardens into a life that is “just the way it is.”
The solution to break out of this is to start practicing something dramatically different.
Something new and electrifying that makes your heart beat faster when you think about it. Something you know you want to do but have been afraid to try. Something you never knew you wanted to do. Something that you thought you could never do at all.
It doesn’t really matter what it is as long as it takes you outside the confines of your life as it currently stands.
The point is to pick something and start doing it. Even if you don’t think you’ll be good at it. Even if you don’t think it will help.
Many people experience instant resistance to the idea of diverging from the comfort of the way things are, even if they’re not all that comfortable.
This hesitation is natural because when you’ve been committed to sameness, you get out of practice at trying new things. You have to accept that it takes effort to gain momentum. It requires a leap of faith in yourself.
Whether you believe it or not, everyone has the potential to change how and what they think, how and what they feel, and how and where they apply their energy. We all have the power to change course at any time.
Doing something that shakes things up enough to put a crack in the stasis, even if you have to force yourself, can put you on a different trajectory.
If you make that leap, you will surprise yourself.
And once you start to see results, the easier it becomes to start practicing another new thing you want to try. And then another.
This is how you create a new life.
The more you get used to doing things that take you beyond your finite conception of who you are and what you are capable of, the more other things change as well. Old limitations lose their grip. It becomes easier to react and respond in new ways. You become more open to new possibilities. And more able to manage situations and interactions.
It’s not instantaneous, or necessarily easy. But if you dive in with commitment, you can transform your life into the one you truly want to live.
It just takes practice.