No, I don’t mean physically stretch (though that’s important also!) I mean mentally, personally, internally stretch yourself. Life can be easy at times. Following the same routine and the same day-to-day activities and performing the same job with consistency can be easy. Easy in the sense that you get comfortable with the schedule. You will find yourself beginning to relax a bit in the every day. Sure, maybe you shake things up by eating dinner a bit later on Friday night or you order something slightly different from that little lunch place you visit every Wednesday. These are minor little differences in an otherwise same routine.
This relaxed and casual life can lead to complacency. You get comfortable and you neglect to improve yourself. You quit striving for better things or you stop worrying about trying to accomplish your goals. Maybe you think you’ll get to it tomorrow but telling yourself you’ll get to it the next day soon becomes just part of the routine. Eventually you’ll even get tired of saying the words and you’ll just ignore it all together. I encourage you to stretch yourself. Here’s what I mean.
Do something different
I don’t mean different like a new lunch choice; I mean different like a different ethnicity for your lunch choice. Go to a place you’ve never been and perhaps would never think to go. That’s different. Stretch yourself to look beyond what’s comfortable and what you are familiar with and ry something different. Maybe you have an incredibly sensitive stomach and different foods are simply impossible. Or maybe you don’t have anything close you can try. Find something else you can do different. Take a different way to work and don’t use your phone to give you the directions. Find your way. There was a time not too long ago when we had to use little GPS units created specifically to help us (remember those large blocks with 2 1/2 inch screens?). And it wasn’t too long before that when we didn’t have anything but those giant paper maps (which I could never really fold back the right way). There’s a sense of excitement with trying to find the way to get somewhere without following the same, old, beaten path. Do something different.
Learn from someone else
Learning from someone else means finding someone different from you. Don’t seek our your coworker who you’ve known for a half-dozen years and has shared every detail of their life with you already. Seek out someone else. It doesn’t have to be a deep and lasting connection. Maybe you’re incredibly shy and you don’t like to speak to others. I get that. I’m a bit of an introvert too. You can learn from someone else without even engaging in conversation with them (though I encourage you to do so as it’s definitely the best). You can also just listen to others talk, or watch how they interact. You can learn from how they perform a task or interact with others. Everyone is unique and has different life experiences. The stories they have and the memories they have made in their life time are vastly different from your own. And you can stretch yourself by learning from them. Push your own thinking and your own views and opinions by seeing life through someone else’s eyes.
Show unexpected kindness
The keyword in this last idea is unexpected. It’s easy to show kindness to someone who is our friend or family. We naturally want to please them and be kind to them. But unexpected kindness means seeking out someone that does not expect your kindness. Be generous with your time. Maybe even generous with your money. Showing unexpected kindness stretches you in several ways. In fact, it helps you as you do something different or learn from someone else. In addition it causes you to stretch yourself with what you would normally do or how you would normally spend your time or money. And trust me-the feeling you’ll receive by showing kindness to someone is unmatched. The challenge exists of course to find someone to whom to be kind. This challenge leaves you looking. Searching for someone to demonstrate a random act of kindness towards…and this will stretch you. It will awaken you from the steady stupor we so easily sink into from the routine of life.
There are an almost innumerable list of benefits you can receive by stretching yourself. You can improve your attitude. You can improve your life. More importantly you can improve your world. Taking the time to wake up, smell the coffee, and stretch will make you enjoy life more. And who knows. You may change someone’s day, or even their life through what you do.