We all feel how life can be a drag sometimes. Doing the same thing every day, its seems so boring. While being young was great, when you had no worries at all, or the fact that you can’t wait till retirement where are your worries of work will vanish as well. In this blog I am going to disappoint you, you will always feel this drag, no matter which stage of life you are in. But I will also talk about how our minds make the drag, and I will provide some tips on how to avoid the feeling of drag.
Why you feel this drag
We feel this drag most of the times in our lives, because life doesn’t change that much. We grow from an infant, to a child, to a teenager, and so on (see figure 1). At each stage we get used to being a teenager or an adult. We know how to act as an adult, we know how to get through the day, and we know what the outer world demands of us. Getting used to things, is exactly the thing that makes our life feeling like a drag. There are no exciting, crazy, and unexpected things happening, in other words; boring. With some jealousy we look back at different stages of life when life seemed to be more fun, different. Until, you reach a transition.
When life is going to change, a transition is coming. We will attend our first day at high-school, search for our first job, or you expect your first child. Things can be exciting, life is changing! A new you, a new life, more opportunities! But the transition can also be scary, what will happen? What if I get bullied on school? What if I can find a job? Of if having a child is terribly exhausting? Everyone goes through both the small phases of excitement and anxiety while being in a transition, this is part of a transition. The first period in your new stage of life will still be part of the transition. You are suddenly on your own, or you feel like you capabilities fall short. You will long back for your previous stage, but when you manage things, you will become confident. But once you are settled, you get used to your new stage, the drag kicks in.
How our minds make the drag
The problem is that our minds get used to our lives. As an adult we can hardly think as a child anymore, and as a retired person, we hardly can imagine how it is like to be a young adult. This is not only because time is changing, but also because our minds are changing, I have at least a hard time trying to think like my 10 year younger me. Our minds are bounded to the past 5-10 years we experienced because our “memory” from earlier phases isn’t that strong anymore. When we grow older, our minds grow older with it. In transition phases, things are different, here we can shift from our old- to our new mind quite rapidly. But when we get used to a situation, we get in a drag. We only know how to be a teenager, or only know how to be an adult. We are really different between the phases. Therefore, the problems that we have within our phases enlarge themselves. Because we have the minds of adults, adult problems become enlarged. The burden of your job or the burden of carrying for your child are the most significant issues in your (adult) world. While children have, within their children mind, their own major burdens of life, like the burden of homework, the burden of mothers’ demands, or the burden of carrying for their pet hamster. The burdens are relatively the same burdens between each level of aging, experienced with similar magnitude. This is the same thing as “first world problems”, we have luxury problems that are not relevant problems in developing countries. Nevertheless, these problems are real problems to us, just within our own level.
Playing with relativity
Often we idealize the other stages of life; “life was so much simpler as a child” or “I can’t wait for my retirement than all the problems will be solved”. Older people are jealous of the vitality of young ones, while young people are jealous of the money and wisdom of the older people. However, I believe, they are fundamentally different. A child is not just younger than an adult, it is just totally different on so many levels. If we accept that stages of life make people truly different, with different burdens, responsibilities, and so on, we could not compare one to another. Therefore, we shouldn’t do this in our mind. We should look at our life in its own stage. So if you are an adult with a child, sick of the fact that you can only sleep 5 hours a night (which is way below the national average), you shouldn’t compare yourself with the national average, you should compare yourself with people in your situation with a child. By doing this, 5 hours sleep a night doesn’t become that bad. This makes a night that you can make 6 hours a very good night of sleep! By accepting how life is now (thus by reducing your reference frame), you can become way more satisfied about your current life. Read more about this issue in this blog; how to feel good about myself.
Change is relative
Change is relative to the sample of data(memory) you take to compare the change with. So the smaller your comparison sample, the more (small) changes look like large changes. After complete stability for 5 years of working 40 hours a week, changing to working 36 hours a week is a big chance, compared to your previous pattern. Although, the change is only four hours, the fact of the change itself can be huge for you!
Playing with randomness within the constraints
You have a certain pattern baked into your daily life. you have your own routine what results in your drag of life. Because you have your own burdens, you probably feel constrained by them. For example, you might be desperate for a holiday, but you have a job you don’t want to quit. Try to reflect on the constraints you have in life, and try to explore where you have less constraints. At these constraints where you have less boundaries, you might find some variation, some deviation from your daily life. Like a hobby that is somewhat extraordinary, or watching documentaries of weird things. But also in the little things, taking the stairs instead of the elevator, or taking a different route home makes your habits a bit less fixed.
Last solution, if you really can’t stand the drag of your life anymore after trying all the previous tips, transition might be your only solution. A big leap to a different job, partner, or town, can fix many things. However, there are several risks of transitions. The situation might become worse, but the situation will be no doubt different.