🤔 Breaking Free from the Monotony
Do you find your life a bit boring? Do you feel that your days are on repeat, like the movie Groundhog Day? You wake up, work, eat, relax a bit, and sleep. The next day, you do it all over again. As time goes by, you may start to wonder, “Where did the time go?” Time seems to fly without you even noticing.
Is there anything you can do to break free from this monotonous feeling?
Think back to the last time you went on vacation to a new place. Did you notice a lot of new things, especially when you visited a new country or culture? You were surrounded by different landscapes, people, food, and customs. Your senses were engaged, and everything was new and fascinating.
It’s harder to notice things in familiar places, but with the right mindset, you can help yourself appreciate the small wonders in your life, making every day more interesting.
🧠 Pay Attention to What You Pay Attention To
William James, who is known as the “Father of American psychology,” said,
“Our life experience will equal what we have paid attention to, whether by choice or default.”
What have you been paying attention to in your life? Global events, personal challenges, or perhaps the small frustrations of daily life?
💡 The Art of Noticing in Everyday Life
In his book, “The Art of Noticing: 131 Ways to Spark Creativity, Find Inspiration, and Discover Joy in the Everyday,” Rob Walker shares 131 ways for you to notice, get curious about things happening around you, and find beauty in the seemingly mundane.
🚶♂️ Commuting vs. Cruising
Among those 131 ways, my favorite one is “Connoisseur Something Awful.” In this section, Walker introduces Timothy “Speed” Levitch. One of Levitch’s jobs is being a tour guide.
Levitch explained to Walker that there are two ways to move through the world: Commuting and Cruising.
Commuting is a more common way of navigating the world. Levitch says, “COMMUTING, active verb, is to travel along with the assumption that every godforsaken human being currently on this planet is in my way.”
Cruising, on the other hand, is a less common way of navigating the world. Levitch says, “CRUISING, also a verb, active verb, is the immediate appreciation of the beauty immediately around you in your immediacy.” He says it’s a natural antidepressant.
Consider your life. Are you commuting or cruising through it? Are you always in a hurry, going from one place to another or from one to-do list item to the next?
How can you shift your life a bit from commuting to cruising? Do you feel you don’t have any headspace to notice and appreciate the beauty around you in your daily life?
🎭 Have the Mindset of a Greek Chorus
As a tour guide, Levitch offers the Rush Hour Tour in New York City. He tells the tour participants to have the mindset of a Greek chorus. Ancient Greek plays always included a chorus that offered background and summary information to help the audience follow what was happening on stage.
You can apply the Greek chorus mindset to any situation you are in. You deconstruct the scene that is happening in front of you. You observe, comment, and maybe even participate in the scene.
🍷 “Connoisseur” Something Awful
Many people find honking horns during rush hour annoying. But with a Greek chorus mindset, you can find it amusing.
“Connoisseur that Honk,” Levitch says. “As each of the different honks of the city comes tumbling into your present tense,” “take a moment to taste and connoisseur that honk—based on its voluminousness, its intensity, context, and duration. Taste and connoisseur.”
Instead of getting annoyed, pay close attention to each honk. Try to figure out what the honker’s goal is, what kind of car this honker might be driving, or how this honk is different from the honk you just heard before.
🔍 Be a Connoisseur and Transform “Mundane” to “Amusing”
Walker says, “You can ‘connoisseur’ anything—and the more unappealing the subject, the better.” It’s very similar to developing an “autotelic” personality.
Are you annoyed by a long line at a grocery store? Be curious about the items the people in front of you are buying. What are they planning to cook? What kind of family members do they have? Be nosy without being noticed.
Waiting at a doctor’s office? Look around the room. Notice what they have in the room. Be curious about how they organize the room. Pay attention to the posters they have. What kind of messages are they trying to send to you? Are there any improvements you can think of?
Are you stuck in a long boring meeting where you have no business being in? Instead of wishing the meeting to be over as soon as possible, try to get into the brain of the person who is speaking. Observe the relationship between two people who are talking. You might find something interesting.
🕵️ Find a Background Story
When you have the Greek chorus mindset, you become curious and want to figure out the background story. Take something you take for granted and ask why it is the way it is.
Walker shares one example, a stop sign. In the US, a stop sign is an octagon. Have you ever wondered why that is? I never did until I read his book.
Walker says the higher the number of sides the traffic sign has, the higher the level of danger drivers need to be aware of. So it makes sense that a stop sign has 8 sides and a yield sign has 3 sides.
🚀 Take Action Now
From time to time, stop and examine if you are commuting or cruising. If you realize you are commuting, see if you can shift a bit toward cruising. Have a Greek chorus mindset and be a connoisseur of the situation. I bet you will find a little amusement in your life. Who knew even a boring stop sign could become interesting!
Remember, you get out of life what you put into it. Be interested and interesting. Here are some actionable items to help you transform your everyday experience:
⏸️ Pause and reflect on whether you’re commuting or cruising through life.
🎭 Adopt a Greek chorus mindset and observe the world around you.
🍷 Practice “connoisseur-ing” the unappealing aspects of your day.
🔍 Get curious about the background stories of everyday objects and situations.
💬 Share your discoveries with others, making your life more interesting and engaging.
By incorporating these steps, you can find amusement in the mundane and add more joy to your everyday life. Enjoy the journey!