If you find that your life has become bland, boring, or blah, there are four easy ways to bring joy and vitality back to it.
In his brilliant Guide to Stress-free Living, Dr. Amit Sood of the Mayo Clinic, says that we will all experience an infusion of sparkle and zest in our lives if we awaken to novelty: the appreciation of uniqueness.
He suggests four ways to do this: acceptance, transience, flexibility, and kindness.
“Our brains, designed as fault-find machines, need to be reprogrammed to seek and find joy,” says Soot. The downside of fault-finding is we lose our sense of enjoyment in what we are trying to improve. This holds true for family and friends alike.
When we treat these people in the same way as a fix-up project at home, we are adopting an air of superiority that distances ourselves from them. Instead, notice their most positive attributes, and accept their flaws as you accept your own.
To increase your awareness of these winning traits, write them down. When the person demonstrates the trait, let him or her know how much you appreciate it. Nothing will incentivize the person more than praise.
This is your awareness of the finite. It is “a perception that this moment is precious because it will never repeat,” says Soot. Life changes quickly. Think about this: How many more times will you see your dearest friend? You don’t know. It could be that she must suddenly relocate because she is needed at the Dallas office.
Cherish the time you have with these loved ones and be fully present to the novelty of your life experiences. “Each day spent being partially present,” Soot says, “is a day that’s not fully lived,”
Soot recommends that we stay flexible in accommodating other people’s preferences. It not so much what you do together, it is being together that is important. Notice the novelty of what you are experiencing together in the moment. You will find that others find enjoyment in our preferences if we express our enjoyment of theirs.
“Flexibility will come naturally if you’re genuinely interested in the other person.”
Whether we are aware of it or not, kindness is a trait that we universally seek in other people, particularly those who have the honor to be within our inner circle. People will respond positively to your kindness. By blessing others, you will bless yourself.
“All the world’s spiritual teachings instruct us to be kind,” says Soot.
Notice the difference in how you feel when you negatively judge someone verses when you see them through the eyes of compassion. If in doubt about what to say in a situation with a loved one, ask yourself: Is it true? Is it kind? Is it necessary? A random act of kindness can light up a person’s entire day.
So search for the extraordinary in the ordinary until you can see the divine in all things. Awaken to novelty by paying attention to the details that make people, animals, and nature unique. Challenge yourself to engage in fresh experiences, especially those that push you beyond the boundaries of your comfort zone. And infuse your daily experiences with acceptance, transience, flexibility, and kindness. By putting these practices in action, your ho-hum like will be transformed by joy.