Ever feel like you’re stuck in a rut, a slave to your daily rituals and routines? Doing the same old things and being the same old way, day in and day out?

Well, I actually like my nice little rut. Maybe too much.

Like most people, I am a creature of habit. I have my regular, predictable patterns that I adhere to with an inflexible passion. That’s my comfort zone. My family even makes jokes about me. (The word boring comes up a lot!)

There’s a certain amount of comfort and safety in doing things the same, familiar way. That’s why we get stuck there–-so cozy!

Unfortunately over time, these nice safe habits trap us in a couple of ways:

  • They keep us from growing, developing, and maturing. They start to restrict us and determine what we think we can or can’t do. We slowly lose the desire to even try. Our comfort zone rules us and we’re stuck in a zone of supposed comfort, well below our potential for fun and exhilaration.
  • We numb out. We don’t even think about what we’re doing. By operating on autopilot, we miss out on savoring the precious joy hidden in each moment. We absentmindedly go about our day in a fog. A scary example is driving to work and not remembering how we got there. Gasp!

Maybe it would benefit us all if we tried to stretch ourselves a teensy, weensy bit.

If you’ve polished your routines into well-worn grooves, here are 21 little ideas for loosening your “handcuffs” a bit. Follow the guidelines to pick one or two that will make the biggest difference in your life.

Guideline 1.  Does it s-t-r-e-t-c-h you?
Deciding to eat less meat when you know you don’t like meat anyway isn’t much of a stretch, is it? On the other hand, if you think of potato chips as a vegetable, deciding to eat more vegetables is a great idea!

Guideline 2.  Will it EXHILARATE you?
Will doing this make you feel proud, confident, and hopeful? If just thinking about it makes you feel more awake, alive, and excited about life, go for it!

  1. Get up 15 minutes earlier to meditate.
  2. Be a vegetarian for a day.
  3. Strike up a conversation with a stranger.
  4. Eat less sugar.
  5. Spend quality time with a child.
  6. Eat an extra vegetable.
  7. Write a letter (a lost art!) to someone you care about.
  8. Laugh more.
  9. Walk faster.
  10. Sit in the front row and speak up.
  11. Praise others more.
  12. Start a gratitude journal.
  13. Make your workouts more intense.
  14. Start recycling something.
  15. Go outside and gaze at the stars.
  16. Organize your closets.
  17. Volunteer for a day.
  18. Create something (draw, color, write, knit, whatever . . .)
  19. Take a yoga class.
  20. Rearrange your furniture.
  21. Read instead of watching TV.

Who knows? Something you try may even lead to a permanent, long-lasting change. Something you’ve been secretly wanting to do for a long time.

Do something, anything, differently and see what happens. A minor tweak can provide the wake up call you need to live more deeply in the present and be more conscious as you go about your life.

Part of living An Island Perspective is being open to recognizing when situations or actions are no longer working for us. Then letting them go. We sure don’t want inertia or procrastination to hold us back. We want to embrace opportunities to practice new skills and gain new insights.
While comfort is fine and needed, straying from our well-worn path from time to time can be rejuvenating–a huge boost to our energy and happiness.

Let’s try to stay open, flexible and resilient–-like a palm tree!

We have the power to create the colorful and fulfilling life of our dreams. Let’s live creatively with joy and gusto . . . Energized, passionate, exhilarated!

What other creative “little ideas” can you think of to help loosen your handcuffs?