Change your perspective. Change your approach. Change your life.
With the pandemic challenging the limits of how much we are capable of tolerating boredom, it’s easy to fall into a pit of madness.
Boredom creeps in and causes us to hide our faces inside the luminescent glow of our phone screens. On our knees, we plead to the heavens asking why we are condemned to this challenging fate. The freedom to live life fully and cultivate new, thrilling experiences has been stripped away.
We can’t eat at restaurants.
We can’t go to the movie theatre.
We can’t shop at our favorite stores.
We can’t see our friends.
We can’t go to the gym.
We can’t go to theme parks.
There are restrictions on everything.
Pandemic or not, the yearning to experience more has always been of pressing concern. It’s much too often that I hear my friends complaining about the lack of time or money they have to go do everything that they want to do. There’s nothing more disappointing than having the desire to fly to Bali and stay in a 5-star resort just to reach into empty pockets and find that I don’t possess the privilege to do so — or even go sit down to eat at Olive Garden to have a nice meal in these pressing times. Damn. The monotony of day-to-day life can be grueling.
Passively watching TV. Mindlessly scrolling through social media. Mentally drained. Just sitting there with nothing to do but walk in circles and do a chore here and there. This situation has challenged my sanity and relationships more than any other.
In such turbulent times, this quote from the famed author of 48 Laws of Power, Robert Greene, resonated more with me now than any other time in my life:
“Routine life is unbearable, and most people only think about how to escape into the world of fantasy and dreams.”
How can one overcome such a situation? This required a mental shift. A shift that would trickle it’s way down into the knolls of the life that I’ll live for the rest of my life. A shift that would flip the way I see everything.
I needed to find a way to experience more. I was forced to think outside the box (or simply just see the box a little differently).
After undergoing my perceptual transformation and testing my theories I feel that I have struck upon a golden way to overcome the bland prison of routine. No more shall I see my days spent watching Netflix as monotonous and cyclical. The world can now be experienced. My psyche can now be filled with the joy of adventure all from my couch.
A Much-Needed Mental Upgrade
It all started with a “how” question. How do I find ways to experience the world without leaving the confines of my home? How do I strike myself with awe-states on a regular basis?
What I realized is that every single thing that I can possibly interact with can be an experience. Every single little activity can be an adventure.
Thinking this way took a mild activity and transformed it from simply something to do — or have to do — into something that can all be part of an experience. There is a vast amount of things out there to be thankful about and with these things comes an opportunity to explore and to adventure into unknown realms. You can dive into something and get lost in it as if it were magic.
The key was to not take these “things to do” for granted, but rather see them as something to be appreciated and used to your advantage — mere ways to add to the depth and beauty of your life.
To help you visualize what I mean, read this narrative about a man confined to a wheelchair:
“I once heard a story about a man who uses a wheelchair. When asked if it was difficult being confined, he responded, “I’m not confined to my wheelchair — I am liberated by it. If it wasn’t for my wheelchair, I would be bed-bound and never able to leave my house.” This shift in perspective completely transformed how he lived each day. — James Clear, Atomic Habits: An Easy & Proven Way to Build Good Habits & Break Bad Ones
What you should attempt is to not feel like your confined to the walls of your situation. Rather, find ways to discover life in seemingly meaningless activities.
That being said, here are a few things I changed my perspective on that you could try too.
Movies, Television, Video Games, and Other Visual Mediums
Visual media is absolutely riveting. You get the opportunity to strap yourself into a wild roller coaster ride of escapism to live through and be inspired by the characters that you’re perceiving.
Such things often get a bad rap. They’re often associated with laziness, monotony, and a lack of meaningful action. I would say otherwise.
These things transport you into a world of fantasy and imagination. Stories to actionably live through and see. That Netflix series suddenly becomes something else. It becomes a medium for you to venture into a world you otherwise wouldn’t have imagined. It tugs at your heartstrings, embeds in you its conveyed philosophies and themes, and allows you to escape into a new reality for a brief moment.
A movie, tv-show, documentary, youtube video, or video game can transform your life and provide you with new experiences if you let it. Just allow yourself to immerse completely and mindfully into what’s in front of you. What makes those experiences wasteful and meaningless is the simple act of consuming them passively and ignorantly. Be active in your consumption.
“It’s funny how the colors of the real world only seem really real when you watch them on a screen.”― Anthony Burgess, A Clockwork Orange
Take this article for example.
- What’s your purpose for reading this?
- Are you actively engaged in the words you’re reading?
- Are you challenging my perspective?
- Are you having an internal conversation with yourself?
- Are you trying to think of ways to fit these pieces of advice in your own life?
- Are you reading this passively or actively?
- Are you reading this just so you can tell yourself that you read something today?
Books and articles are among the most beautiful and mentally rewarding mediums out there. When you’re reading, fiction or non-fiction, you gain the opportunity to experience the creatively crafted world the author is painting in your head, have an internal conversation with the author, and even gain new insights and perspectives for you to adopt in your lifestyle.
This is why speed-reading isn’t the best way to read. You rob yourself of the experiences in the simple pursuit to consume more. You’re not sitting with your thoughts and digesting the words that are flowing into your mind. In this case, you’re just metaphorically letting the words waltz in your head to just base jump out of the other side.
Read as if you’re there in the world that was constructed or there having a conversation with the author. Doing so will make such an experience all the more enjoyable and real.
Reading is that simple doorway into the world of your imagination and experience. So pick up a book and allow yourself to be consumed fully by it — not the other way around.
“A reader lives a thousand lives before he dies. The man who never reads lives only one.” — George R.R. Martin, Author of Game of Thrones
The Act of Learning
I’ve found nothing more fruitful and pleasurable for the state of my mind than leaving the day feeling like I know more now than I did yesterday. The act of learning something practical or theoretical opens up new avenues of thinking. You become exposed to things that you didn’t know even existed. When you think in a different way you transitively experience and perceive the world in a different way.
For instance: if you were to go and learn how to program. You’d realize that there are levels to it. There are different languages you could learn. There exist different uses and purposes for each language. You’d realize that with whatever programming language you decide to learn that there are additional frameworks and libraries you’d need to learn to create anything substantial. And it only goes deeper and deeper.
With whatever you learn, you discover a larger truth about yourself and the world. That 1) you don’t know as much as you think you know and 2) the world is more mysterious than you could have possibly imagined.
If you think about it, this shroud of mystery is extremely exciting. Deepening and exploring your curiosity is an extraordinary way to garner a sense of adventure. The amount of knowledge and skill that is available to us is so vast that it is impossible to accumulate all of it in a single lifetime. Simply understanding that can catalyze you to never cease to dive into new activities through self-education and experimentation.
“That is what learning is. You suddenly understand something you’ve understood all your life, but in a new way.” — Doris Lessing
Construct Your Own Adventure
The point is, the beautiful nature of everything in our world can be found only if you were to look for it. You don’t need to go out to the bars with your friends, travel across the world, or eat at 5-star restaurants to experience the world. Everything you observe, everything you consume, and everything you do can be transformed from a simple act to a life-changing experience. Just open your eyes and try to find greater meaning or solace in those seemingly inconsequential, monotonous actions.
“Happiness consists more in small conveniences or pleasures that occur every day, than in great pieces of good fortune that happen but seldom.” — Benjamin Franklin