“Sometimes you just need to get out of town. Get a new perspective, but you can’t always see that you need a new perspective because . . . well . . . you need a new perspective to be able to see that. It’s complicated. Open your eyes . . . what do you see? More possibilities? Does your new view give you more hope? That’s the goal, although it doesn’t always work out that way. Sometimes a shift in perspective just makes you see what you’ve lost.” -Grey’s Anatomy, written by Joan Rater (episode 253)
Routines can be helpful and a resourceful means to conserve energy, reducing unnecessary angst and worry. But as much as routines can be beneficial to creating a simple, stress-free life, they can also prevent us from discovering what is available to transform our lives for the better.
I recently received a letter from a reader who while she had a well-paying, dependable job and a life that she felt uncomfortable complaining about because on the outside it looked as though everything was going well, she wasn’t satisfied. In fact, she wasn’t sleeping well and was unsettled about how to reclaim her joie de vivre. Such questions are hard to answer in specific terms, but what often is needed is a change of perspective.
Even taking a weekend trip out of town to some place you haven’t visited before or haven’t visited in quite some time has an amazingly powerful way of jolting loose inside your mind something that needs to be piqued or sparked.
If you’ve ever taken a vacation so enjoyable that upon returning you vow to either figure out a way to move there or incorporate ways of living into your day to day routine that were inspired by the destination, you know how powerful of an effect travel in large or small forms can have on how we live our lives. Here are a few other ways getting out of town, getting out of your routine, can alter how you continue to move forward in your life:
1. Reintroduces activities, ways of living, that speak to you but had forgotten about
One of the first things I remember appreciating when I traveled abroad was the ease of being without a car. Upon arriving at my destination, I realized while I am not relying on other modes of transportation to get me from point A to point B, the stress of taking care of a car, finding parking spots and paying for maintenance was far from missed, and the constant walking helped me to feel more energized throughout the day even when I was never able to put on my walking attire as I would at home and “workout”.
2. Reminds you of your passions/hobbies/interests
Perhaps you’ve been so focused at work that you have been unable to find time to work on DIY projects, write music or hop on your bike and take a ride. When you do step away from your “have-to” list and open yourself up to more free time, you’ll find yourself gravitating toward what interests you naturally. Listen to these callings. They hold a powerful message.
3. Stretches your understanding of what’s possible
Often we become so confined to our one little fish bowl that we forget there are other people in this world successfully navigating life with a different approach, less money or different values. When you are able to observe and surround yourself with people in their natural element, you quickly realize there is more than one way to achieve the life you seek. And that is very good news.
4. Forces you to consider why you do the things the way you do them – habit or purpose
Driving on the right side of the road, using chopsticks, enjoying a long, decadent lunch and a light dinner, wearing certain clothing, there are so many habits you adhere to without realizing they are habits that you just follow because that is the way it’s done. When you give yourself the opportunity to step into another way of life, even if it’s a city across your state, ask yourself, why do I feel I need to go to the coffee house in the morning to buy coffee? Why do I drink coffee? Only you can answer these things, but your best life will be the life that is lived consciously, not by habit and not mindlessly because “that’s the way it’s done”.
5. Reduces judgment
Upon seeing other people living contentedly going about their business in a different fashion than what you are accustomed to, you begin to realize that there are more ways to live well. How empowering to realize that living in such a way as to avoid judgment is really tossing away the one beautiful opportunity to live on your own terms. Don’t toss this away.
6. Reveals what elements were missing to elevate you to your fullest potential
Just as Cristina Yang in Grey’s Anatomy travels to Zurich to realize what her life was missing, your change of perspective has the potential to do that for you as well. Often we are so engrained in our routine, that we don’t realize part of our authentic self is strangled and needs to be freed. Whether you realize you need to move to a small town so that you can become a part of a close-knit community or move to a city in order to expand your options and opportunity, we often don’t know what we need until we see it or experience it first-hand.
7. Shows you what you can and can’t live without
A most amazing gift of getting a new perspective is that when you realize what you want, you quickly know what you are willing to give up in order to achieve it. Whether it’s a smaller paycheck to live in a thriving educational community or a smaller house in order to live in a city that has a rich arts appreciation. When you are able to give up without hesitation ways of living and/or material means in order to attain what you have just discovered, you have just made the shrewd decision of listening to you life. After all, it does speak to each of us if only we take the time to listen.
Today, if you find yourself stuck, stifled or frustrated and not knowing exactly why or what it is that your life needs to do to improve, find time to go some place that has been calling your name. Go some place that will awaken your mind or challenge it to work off of auto-pilot. When we engage with the world around us and truly observe all that it has to offer, we will find the answer that we seek. But first we must step beyond our self-imposed boundaries.
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