Life is a delicate balance between routine experiences and new, unusual ones that provide unexpected surprise and “out of the box” change and growth. When traveling, one realizes how much of life is so predictable and mundane. Traveling away from our environment immediately exposes us to new adventures, often with unexpected outcomes. Then, as soon as we return home, we resume the monotony of daily life. After an extended period, there is an urgency to step “outside of the box,” as this is the place where one ultimately experiences true growth.
Some of us vacillate between the comfort of routine and the unsettled sense that nothing new is happening. Both of these life experiences must be honored. Nevertheless, one must realize and expose one’s self to new experiences that may feel slightly uncomfortable, but which ultimately lead to our personal growth and learning.
When you think about it, our lives are built among boxes. We step out of a box-spring mattress after a night’s sleep into our kitchen opening a boxed-shaped refrigerator. The morning ritual proceeds as we place food into a boxy microwave. We turn on a box-shaped T.V. and progress with our day by stepping into a box-shaped car to then sit at a desk and type and gaze into a box called the computer, tablet or phone. These tactile and sensory experiences have the potential to upset our lives emotionally while never allowing for venturing “outside the box.” Doing so doesn’t always have to involve something as life-changing as a career change, ending a relationship or traveling the world (but it could); it simply means that there is a willingness to do, say or act in a way that is new or different, which may render us vulnerable.
When we push past our perceived limits and “go for it,” we always grow and learn. One might need to break free from the ritual of life in small ways by leaving one’s comfort zone occasionally. This may in turn shift one’s day-to-day routine to lead to something new and exciting.
There are a number of new activities to choose from while making a list of the possible experiences to enjoy. Some of these options are: taking art or cooking classes; enrolling in a dance class; joining a writing or book club; volunteering; playing a musical instrument; learning a new language; or stepping into a public-speaking role. The first step is to create a list of what comes to mind and then to get to work on the opportunities. Have compassion and be gentle with yourself in the process.
The goal each and every day is to feel challenged, bold, courageous – and maybe slightly uncomfortable – yet, unencumbered from the boxes that define our lives.
Legendary author Ray Bradbury said, “First you jump off the cliff, and then you build your wings on the way down.”