By Dr. Deb Wade
GCU Vice President, Counseling and Psychological Services
"Is this all there is?" "Everything has become so mundane."
Because I owned a large faith-based counseling center, housing 16-plus therapists specializing in all areas of mental health, and because we saw an average of 1,000 families per month, I often have been asked, "What is one of the most frequent reasons that people come to counseling?"
Of course, there are many serious issues that are discussed, but it seems that when it comes to frequency, the presenting problem (or the foundation of the problems initially presented) is … a mundane life.
Life has become too routine, too boring, and too stagnant. “I wake-up-at-the-same-time-every-day, head-to-a-job-that-does-not-fulfill-me-working-with-people-I-don’t-really-like-doing-a-task-that-I-am-not-invested-in, returning-home-to-have-a-meal, watch-TV, head-to-bed …. Only-to wake-up-and-do-the-same-thing-all-over-again. My life stinks!” Whew!
The danger comes when one becomes so “stuck” that it begins to affect marriage, home life, friendships, and hobbies. Then ... it’s not a far leap for the person to begin thinking, “I need a new marriage, a new life, a new house, a new car/boat/cycle. That will jump-start my life.”
Intellectually, we know that making a cosmetic change will satisfy for a while but will not make a difference in the long term. Why Because you are bringing the same YOU and the same MINDSET to a new setting, only to find that the setting really does not impact long-term joy or serenity and happiness. Eventually, the mundane life will catch up to you again.
Many times in this space I have discussed the notion that “the grass is NOT greener on the other side of the fence;” rather, “the grass is greener where you water it!” Emotionally, however, we easily can fall into stinking thinking that tells us we must change everything in our environment to “feel happy” again.
What to do? Buying into the idea that “my mundane life” is a dead-end street most certainly will trigger malaise and gloom. BUT, the good news is that it is fixable, solvable and, with some awareness and tools, life can be enriched and infused with passion, excitement and frivolity once again. Tell yourself, "It is up to me!" Some thoughts …
- Action over emotion! When you begin to feel dissatisfaction, fear, frustration or desperation, take action to disrupt the feeling from taking over. Whether you feel like it or not, taking some type of action automatically will make you feel better. Call a friend for lunch, run some errands, plant a garden … action will defeat emotion, and consistently taking action over emotion eventually will overpower the emotion from taking a foothold!
- Invest in watering and fertilizing your own yard! For example, if your marriage/relationship has gotten stagnant, rev it up by communicating what needs to be infused in it to bring the excitement back. New activities, laughter, adventure, touch, quality time, focused attention – all will begin the turning around of the stagnant and mundane.
- Change your own filter! Focus on finding what is right and good about your life, your marriage, your relationships, your job and your activities. Unless you change the filter through which you see life, you always will see what you’ve always seen.
Don’t let a “mundane life” be your “permission” for feeling hopeless, desperate and powerless. Rather, be a fighter … throw back the covers, leap out of bed, put a song in your heart, clean the filter and be intentional in your pursuit of recovering from the spell of the mundane. Invest in the NOW – we are not promised tomorrow!