Nobody can tell you with certainty that you’re in a rut because being in rut is a different experience for each person. But if you feel like you’re in a rut, then you probably are.
In Western culture, and particularly in the United States, we place a very high value on action, on doing. So if you’re in a rut, society tells you to take action. DO something about it. Change your environment, change what you’re doing, cultivate new relationships – change something external to you. There is, however, a fundamentally different approach.
Imagine two people. One really likes spiders and the other is terrified by them. Both people encounter the same spider at the same time. One feels curiosity and the other feels fear. They experience the same thing externally in the environment — the spider. But each person generates different feelings internally as a result. In the same way, the feeling that you’re in a rut is not the only possible response to your environment. You generate that feeling of being in a rut internally, as you reflect on your situation. It’s possible to change how you feel by changing that internal process — even if the external environment stays the same.
So here’s our advice. Try non-doing. Give yourself permission to embrace your feelings. Don’t seek to escape them or to suppress them. Don’t spend a lot of effort doing things in an effort to change the situation that exists. Stress is created by resistance to what is. This is the situation in which you find yourself. Whatever you might do to escape your feelings about it, those feelings will still be there waiting for you after your brief escape. Let go of the need to escape.
Focus on the present moment. In the present moment, it’s very likely that nothing bad is happening to you. If you attend to the present moment, you’ll find things to appreciate, things for which you can express your sincere gratitude. You’ll also notice ways you can make a positive difference in someone else’s life. We’re talking about everyday things like smiling, saying hello, saying thank you. Even a small gesture can sometimes make a big difference in someone’s life — and in your own. You never know.
With intention and daily practice, we can all get better at feeling appreciation and gratitude in whatever circumstances we encounter, and we can all find ways to make a difference every day. If you commit to this approach, one day you’ll notice that your rut has simply disappeared.