“Against the wear and tear of modern life” was the slogan of a famous spot from the 1960s.
In fact, modern life is evocative of stress, speed, lack of time, commitments that become more and denser and pressing … Just enough to feel exhausted and want a lot of rest and above all detach from everything.
Often, however, it happens to have to deal with another type of discomfort: to feel one’s life as flat, monotonous, free of stimuli and emotions. Practically the exact opposite!
When we feel in this state, tired of seeing one’s life devoid of emotions, complaining of an increasingly boring and alienating routine, we do not necessarily fall into the case of depression disorders but over time we risk developing a real problem in that direction.
When we perceive monotony in our lives we perceive it “despite everything”: we know how to recognize that rationally we have no valid reason to feel empty. We know we have a good job that should gratify us, a satisfying network of friendships and affections, a sentimental and sexual relationship that should be rewarding because you recognize the love that your partner has towards us, we know we have a nice car, the latest generation smartphone in your pocket and we have everything we wanted.
Yet this life does not satisfy us. We feel flat. And what always happens in these cases? It happens that we talk about it with others, with friends and family, with our partner, with our work colleague, sometimes even with the first stranger met on the bus or at the bar … And it happens that our interlocutor – especially who knows us well – reproaches us more or less severely by telling us how inadequate and unfair our state of mind is because we do not realize how lucky we really are and what we should rather thank all the Gods for the good life we have before us. In some cases, we also learn that we envy someone! In practice, those who should understand us relentlessly express a judgment that sounds just like “What a fool you are!”.
This is where the further discomfort arises: that sense of inadequacy and despair insinuates because basically we think that whoever gives us fools is right. Yet the more we recognize to ourselves that there is no reason to feel this way, the more we feel uncomfortable. And each of us reacts to this state in its own way: whoever closes himself in isolation, who chases an ideal of perfection also through others who will never arrive. And in all these cases the results are the same: the sentence to be even more dissatisfied and sad for a life that knows nothing.
So what to do before becoming hopelessly depressed?
Shaping a “flat” life. 5 steps to get started:
“The monotony of a peaceful life stimulates the mind to create”Albert Einstein, 1933
1. Do the usual things but do them differently!
Let’s take a careful analysis of our daily routine: let’s look at what we do every day, and above all how we do them. We know that habits are those behaviors that we learn over time and that take root so deeply that they influence the rest of our lives. Some habits are related to lifestyle, others are a consequence of it. For example, if I work as an employee and my working hours go from 9 to 18, inevitably my habit will be to wake up every day at the usual time and do all the things in a programmed sequence. The beauty is that I can reverse the order of at least a couple of these things: for example, having breakfast before getting dressed or vice versa. Or I can change one of these many small habits, replacing them with other alternatives so that I can change them over time. For example I can choose a few days to drink coffee and other days to make myself a tea. Both the effects related to the illusion of the “power of caffeine” are the same. And again: trying to change the way for the journey home-work-home: changing the itinerary and trying to see what advantages this little change of habit brings with it is a useful stimulus to make our mind work in a more receptive and creative way. It may seem trivial but breaking the routine as a sequence of programmed behaviors puts you in the condition of experiencing something different, on which you can exercise the pleasure of control, rather than the discomfort of submission. Try also now, what do you have to lose?
2.Introduce something new in your daily life
We are used to perceiving and telling ourselves to the rest of the world also through our interests. From numismatics to experimental theater, from ethnic cuisine to soccer matches with friends, each of us could define ourselves on these three dimensions: work, private life, hobby. When we are no longer satisfied with our daily lives, we can try to think of introducing a small change: introducing a new interest, discovering it by chance or dusting it off from the closet of the things we always wanted to do but that has never been possible for us. It could be the right time to learn to play the guitar as we wanted to do when we were young or to sign up for that tennis course for amateurs because clay has always fascinated us. In any case, the advantages are numerous: in addition to having the possibility of extending our network of knowledge – therefore more opportunities – we also have the possibility of doing something good for our body and mind. In fact, any new interest we decide to introduce into our lives has the consequence that it is good for us, good for ourselves. It’s proven, trust me!
3.Get to know a new friend
It doesn’t matter to be communication geniuses or social phenomena to make friends. So even in the case of being healthy carriers of introversion and shyness, the opportunities to meet people are manifold and within everyone’s reach. For example, there are many voluntary or cultural associations in your area. Have you ever thought that you could be the right person for a group of people who share your ideas or interests? From animal and environmental activism to political activism, in addition to the more classic voluntary work, each of us has the opportunity to really do something for ourselves that can also be of help to others, to our community, to our territory. And if there is still no association that is right for us … We could always create it from nothing ourselves! Who prevents us?
4.Change the way you look at things, and things will also look different.
It is not the things in themselves that concern us, but the opinions we have of them. Since we are the builders of the reality we live in, as it is we who build it through the attribution of meaning to the events and the elements that compose it, we have the right to modify it simply by changing the way we look at it. So we can see that the work we are doing a bit with difficulty actually hides those professional aspects that have allowed us to learn those tasks that prove useful also in other fields. Or that the degree program attended and that we are unable to conclude is actually making us discover what our true inclination is and consequently offers us the opportunity to follow our true passion … After all, we are so bound to our expectations that in the end we become blind convinced that we are far-sighted. But precisely by changing “lenses”, when not exactly our point of view, we can have a better view and see things more clearly.
5.Communicate to the world differently. Talk about yourself as a renewed person
We are social animals. In the sense that, whether we like it or not, we live immersed in a fabric of social relationships, which in turn takes place within a network of relationships with the surrounding environment. As much as we sometimes seem to be invisible to others or as often as it seems to us that others don’t matter to us, we are inevitably inserted in this fabric of relationships and interactions. This means that we are constantly engaged in reciprocal communication exchanges between us, others and the environment. Just as we receive messages from outside, we also send messages from outside. The way we do it also depends on our communication style: this too is the result of a learning process for which we learned about the communication methods which in some part of the time proved to be effective because they allowed us to define ourselves compared to the rest of the world and be recognized by others. It happens that the way others are used to communicating with us is no longer effective. So we can also introduce a change in the way we communicate to others: from the color of the t-shirt worn to go to university to the handshake when we greet our boss in the office: this also means communicating. Trying to do it in the way we are used to doing it on a daily basis can make a difference. For example, if someone were to ask us “Hi, how’s it going?” And our tendency would be to sincerely answer that things are disgusting, we will have feedback from our interlocutor who will feed, despite himself, our sense of unease. But if we tried to answer “All right thanks! Rather, how are you? “Trying, in this case, to shift the attention from ourselves to our friend, we will get the benefit of establishing a more empathic communication because our friend will have the feeling that we are interested in him and his life, and therefore he will be more inclined to see us from a more positive perspective, which will have inevitable cascading effects.
To conclude …
“We can’t expect things to changeA. Einstein
if we keep doing the same things. “