My life at the moment is so dull. My relationships (with my spouse, friends and family) are all lacking something. My work is just something I do for money and even my hobbies don’t make me happy. What can I do to get back the spark?
Thank you for such a great question, and I’m sorry to hear that you feel that way about the things in your life right now. But nothing is lacking. You don’t need to add any sort of magic ingredient to your life to spark it up from the outside. Your relationships with people, your work and your hobbies are not the problem, and you can’t expect to be able to spark them up. They’re beyond your control. Your spark comes from within, and it’s something you create for yourself.
Before I tell you how, just imagine a city at night viewed from the sky with all the car headlights racing around. You’ll see the big motorways with lots of well-ordered traffic moving swiftly, and there will also be the smaller streets and lanes where the traffic is more erratic and irregular. There will also be some streets with no traffic at all. Now imagine that those cars travelling around the city are the thoughts in your head, only that in YOUR city nearly all of the traffic is moving along one or two big motorways in the same direction, going round and round in a loop. Imagine how bored the passengers of these cars must be! They see the same thing over and over and over again and even if the things they see change around them, the passengers don’t really notice or care because they’re too concerned with staying on the motorway and keeping on track.
The only way the course of these cars might change is if an obstacle appears in their path and they’re forced to stop or find a detour around it. The motorway could also gradually change its course, becoming wider, more direct, and the cars will adapt to the extra space and speed. Or there could be an accident. Maybe one car runs off course and causes a crash. Then the people in the cars will be forced to get out of their cars and assess the damage, decide what to do, and cope with their unfamiliar emotional responses. These changes are not voluntary changes, and are probably changes that the passengers of the cars would like to avoid if possible, but each one of these incidents in an opportunity to create change, and change is what gives us the feeling of excitement – or spark.
There’s another possibility our passengers haven’t considered. What if they decided to try a different route, just for a change. Nothing too adventurous or daring, just a quick little detour for the heck of it. When they’ve had enough they can return to the highway and continue on their way without wasting too much time. Maybe it was fun, and a week later they decide to try it again, but they might go a different way, and other cars around them might notice them turning off the highway and they might be curious, so they also decide one day to go and see what all the fuss is about. What if gradually all the cars began trying new routes and seeking new destinations and breaking up, exploring the city independently. They’d discover that there’s so much to see and do, but nothing has really changed except their choices. There might be more accidents, and some cars will get lost, but this will lead to opportunities to do something new and different – something that otherwise they may not have tried.
So anyway, getting back to your question. What can you do? It’s simple. Try new things, break up your routine, don’t do the same things in the same way over and over again. Look for opportunities to make your everyday experiences different, and also do something brave everyday! These things can be small and insignificant at first – change the order you eat the food on your plate, part your hair on the other side, walk on the other side of the street etc. But try some brave changes too, like smiling and saying hello to a neighbor one day, instead of ignoring them. Or going to a different shop to buy your groceries, or read in the evenings instead of watching TV. There are infinite ways to create novelty in your life without creating major changes or needing to “add” anything. You’ll discover how much more exciting all the same old dull things can be when you look for new opportunities to enjoy them differently, and you are bound to discover exciting surprises that you never knew were there.