Ever since childhood we’ve always heard the phrase, “Make new friends!” from parental figures. As a kid that always seemed a bit too simplistic. The challenge of youth and finding identity also meant the process of just making friends wasn’t always easy. Awkwardness, physically figuring out how things work, and a basic misunderstanding of social norms were all contributing factors and entirely understandable.
In the twilight of our thirties and swiftly approaching the forties if not already there ironically the same challenges have begun to rear their ugly, misshapen heads. We realize outside our immediate family we have very little social interaction and depending on your situation that can be detrimental or worse, destructive. For most the cycle has become wake up, help with kids, go to work, maybe a social event revolving around kids, come home, maybe dinner, collapse in bed and repeat. It’s a deeply isolating experience.
For those who’ve become stay-at-home parents in the wake of the “pandemic“, oftentimes that cycle is even more one-dimensional and simplistic. Couple that with a rapidly changing culture thanks to the Internet that is so hard to keep up with it’s a full-time job as well as an aging body. It’s like being a kid all over again in the worst ways and with more aches.
The next question becomes, how do we break that cycle? How do we change the scenery, open our minds and start developing instead of desiccating? Let’s start with realizing that the cycle of daily life in America today is not natural. It’s not how humans have thrived for centuries, in fact it’s a recent devolving of what had become a functional society. As Marcus Aurelius is famous for saying, “Change is nature’s delight.” When was the last time you saw the exact same sunset? When was the last time you found two flowers that are the same? Nature abhors perfect similarity, yet we are told in our lives that should be the goal. Time to break that cycle of simplicity!
Step one is to find people who help you break that cycle. People who challenge you to change, grow and learn on a regular basis. Now with that being said, it’s wise to pull from people you already know if possible. Start by inviting another couple or some friends to an event that takes people out of their comfort zone. At the same time use that event to start judging their usefulness in your life outside of just social norms.
Have a group of people go to a car show, see who is mechanically inclined. Go to a home and garden show, who understands horticulture and enjoys it? Go to an ethnic food festival, who gets riled up wanting to cook some of those dishes at home? These are fun and simple pattern interrupts that will break you out of your bland routine and build the foundation for change in your life and the lives of others.
We’d be remiss though in not mentioning one last thing, make it continual! If you institute this kind of change for one month and then let it go that change is all for nothing. You must foster it like embers in a fire. The end goal should be that others in your circle now start planning and inviting for outings. It becomes a group effort rather than an extra load on one person who will, in time, resent the rest in the group.
One of the great men of our time Teddy Roosevelt was quoted as saying, “To sit home, read one’s favorite paper, and scoff at the misdeeds of the men who do things is easy, but it is markedly ineffective. It is what evil men count upon good men’s doing.” If you want to change your world, put the paper, the phone, the routine down and go do the thing. When posing the question of how to make the world a better place the answer is remarkably simple, start changing it individually this exact moment.