Breaking the Patterns of Life

Why we do what we do repeatedly, expecting different results. And why we should try new things more often.

By Richard Williams ~

Breaking the Patterns of Life 1

We are creatures of habit.

We do the same things over and over again, infinitely. Subconsciously. When we zoom out of our lives, we often see a pattern emerge. It's easier to see the patterns of others than our own. But we do this. Whether we accept it or not. If you are the type of person who changes things up quite often, then that is your pattern, too. Our lives go in mini circles and rotate around the same issues. We often find ourselves attracting similar relationships and jobs. The clothes in our closet are similar in cut and color. And this is something we all do.

Why do we do things over and over?

The answer to this question is simple. Routines help us utilize less energy day-to-day to focus our attention on the bigger picture in our lives. We establish unwritten rules of being who we are based on the predictability of the outcome of our actions. In some ways, we train ourselves to become Pavlov's salivating dog.

We do this subconsciously even when the outcome is not good for us. A known/bad outcome is preferred over an unknown/possibly good outcome. We crave certainty because we know exactly what to expect. We do this to build predictability in our lives by reducing the number of things we change.

Why should we try something new?

There are many reasons to break out of the usual pattern. If our habits are bad, then it's easy to see why. For instance, quitting cigarettes can save our life (and that of our loved ones). Or, when we live in the past, we tend to ruin our present and our future.

But there are more reasons to break patterns. It helps us appreciate the good we have. It lets us take a break from every day and revive ourselves. This is primarily why we travel and take vacations. Not because we totally hate what we have. It's usually because we want to escape the mundane to do something new. And when we get back from that vacation we are often glad to be back home.

Breaking patterns also helps us learn new things about ourselves. We tend to discover a side of us that we never knew existed. Often such experiences change our preferences. If you are in touch with your deepest feelings, there is nothing more gratifying than finding another piece of yourself.

New experiences often bring new people and conversations into our lives. We explore new places and possibly revisit old ones with a new perspective. We also get the opportunity to reevaluate our priorities. We rethink what's working and what's not. It gives us the birds-eye view of our own life. What's more, new experiences make us feel younger. They rewire old and unused circuits in our brains and improve our memory and cognition.

Why don't we try new things more often?

If change is so good for us, why don't we try new things more often? We stick to the familiar and comfortable primarily because we are afraid. Afraid to make mistakes. We are so wired to instant gratification that we still think that a mistake cannot be corrected in some aspects of our lives. We believe that even small changes can impact us for our lifetime and that we will not be able to cope with that change.

Quote by Albert Einstein - Lifeism

While that may be true for some of the mistakes, most of them are almost irrelevant over time and do not affect our lives as much as we think. Making mistakes is a part of being human. And learning from those mistakes is what makes us who we are as individuals. It's a series of life experiences, good and bad, that have shaped us today. If we keep avoiding certain experiences, we will never realize our full potential.

How can we bring new experiences into our lives?

There are several ways to bring new experiences into our lives. We can take a leap of faith and change something big or we can start slow. Whichever approach you choose, go all in without expecting something positive to happen. If you can accept that things may not turn out the way you'd like, you will actually enjoy the experience instead of worrying about the outcome. Here are a few tips to get you started:

  • Make a list of everything you do each day. Identify the patterns that work for you and those that you need to change. Start there.
  • Start with something small like shopping for a color you wouldn't usually try. Build up to larger changes and see how you feel about the changes.
  • Accept that things will go wrong. When you are trying something new, the likelihood of faltering is high. You have no experience doing this and this is outside of your comfort zone. Prepare for it if possible so you don't feel completely stuck.
  • Zoom out of your life. Take a step back and look at your life and yourself as an outsider. What patterns emerge? What would you like to do right away?
  • Ask for help. Be it from friends and family or a professional, getting help to make big changes in life is extremely important. If you are trying to break large and negative patterns, this is absolutely essential.

We all have this one life. And as a result, there is a lot of pressure to live it in the right way. But the truth is, there is no definition of the right way. In fact, it differs from person to person. The biggest regret that people have is not taking risks. Not trying something new. Most people regret not taking the chance and doing something. The fact that we only have one life means we should live the dreams we want to in this lifetime. We should have all the experiences that fulfill us. So go on. Try out that thing that's been on your mind for a while.

Comments

brivoke

I got a very important lesson from this. Exploration of new things is necessary for self-discovery. Meticulously written.

IgnonoPab

Thank you for motivating me to get out of my comfort zone and trying something new.

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