The danger of living a life that’s OK, but not great

OK

The following is a trick question:

Would you rather feel miserable, or would you rather feel neutral?

I get it. No one really wakes up in the morning wanting to feel miserable. If you had your choice between feeling misery — you know, the existential angst and the “I can’t do this for one more day” kind of stuff — and feeling indifferent, we all know which one of those sensations sucks less. Feeling neutral about your circumstances may not be fun, but it’s not awful.

And honestly … that’s exactly the danger of feeling neutral.

Like it or not, misery is motivating. If you feel like crap, you’re more likely to have a fire lit under you. You have nothing left to lose (since you can’t really feel worse), so you’re more willing to take risks and make changes and do something.

But when life is “just OK” … there’s practically zero motivation. And without any sort of big incentive to change, you can find yourself stuck in a no man’s land — where life isn’t getting worse, but it’s not getting any better either — for years.

Whereas misery … most people can’t tolerate misery for months, let alone years. Which means people tend to rebound after hitting rock bottom. But if you never hit it, you can’t rebound. You just sort of float above it, indefinitely.

HOW MANY OF THESE BOXES DO YOU CHECK?

You can be pretty sure you’re stuck in neutral in some area of your life if:

  • When people ask about your job (or anything else), you say: “I mean, it’s fine. I don’t hate it.”
  • You have a hard time actually feeling things. There are no high-highs, and no low-lows. You just sort of … exist.
  • You feel like you live mostly on autopilot.
  • You’ve found yourself saying, “Well, there’s nothing wrong …” (But nothing is right, either.)
  • You’re doing a good job of surviving, but you don’t feel like you’re thriving.
  • You have a long list of things you’re tolerating and very few things you love.
  • You find yourself rationalizing and justifying why you tolerate certain things.
  • You don’t feel like rocking the boat or taking a risk because you’re afraid things could get worse.
  • You can’t remember the last time you felt consistently energized, inspired, or motivated.

I like to think of indifference as a pebble in your shoe.

Because it seems like it’s no big deal, you don’t do anything about it. But when you leave it in there, eventually your gait changes to accommodate the pebble.

After a while, you forget about the rock. Until one day you wake up with terrible back and hip problems, and you can’t figure out why you’re suffering.

The longer you tolerate something, the more harmful it becomes.

SO … WHY DO WE TOLERATE THINGS THEN?

Our human instincts make it very easy to tolerate, settle, and never rock the boat.

We all have the “lizard brain” — the part of our programming that hasn’t evolved in the past 10,000+ years. And the lizard brain is only concerned with keeping you alive.

It doesn’t care about your joy, your self-actualization, or your purpose in life. It doesn’t even know those things exist.

All it cares about is making sure you don’t die, and to its credit, it does its job really well.

The more you take risks, rock the boat, and refuse to settle, the less “safe” your lizard brain thinks you are. It feels nice and comfortable to settle into a life of neutrality and indifference because it’s far less likely that you’ll ever get hurt, be ostracized, or die some sort of painful death in that space.

It’s hard to do the opposite of what your deepest instincts tell you to do. Which is why so many of us never grow, change, or evolve.

It’s safe to live an “autopilot” kind of life. And if that’s the life you choose, you’ll do an excellent job of surviving … but you’ll never know what it means to thrive.

SHORT-TERM PAIN VS. LONG-TERM GAIN

In my experience, getting out of a state of indifference has a lot to do with focusing on the long-term more than the short-term.

Long-term, I don’t know anyone who wants to be on their deathbed thinking, “I mean, my life was just OK. It wasn’t bad, but it wasn’t great.”

Personally, that thought terrifies me. Because if that’s how I end up, it will only have been my own fault. It will mean that I settled, that I tolerated way too much for way too long. And I could have done something about it, but out of fear or laziness or whatever… I never did. No thank you!

But most people aren’t thinking that way. They’re thinking about the short-term pain, not the long-term gain.

Short-term, it feels unnecessarily risky to leave a job that’s OK, but not great.

Short-term, it doesn’t make logical sense to invest half of your savings into a trip around the world.

Short-term, there’s no point in rocking the boat in your relationship, when nothing is really bad.

HERE’S WHAT WE’RE GOING TO DO

If you’d rather thrive than survive, experience joy rather than neutrality, actively love your life instead of tolerate it, and feel motivated instead of uninspired, there’s one big shift you must make:

You must fear having a mediocre life more than you fear making change.

If this is something you can get behind, then go ahead and make that list of things you’re just tolerating. It could be as small as “that pile of bills I haven’t sorted through” or as huge as “everything about my job.”

Then I want you to pick one (preferably the one that feels the easiest to change), and do something about it.

Schedule 30 minutes on your calendar to sort through your bills. Crunch the numbers to find out how much it would really cost to take that trip around the world. Spend 20 minutes Googling “marriage counseling” and make an inquiry with someone who sounds like a good fit.

It only takes a tiny bit of effort to get momentum going. Once you’ve proven to yourself that you can rise above toleration, it’s easier to find energy for the things that seem more challenging.

IF YOU NEED ACCOUNTABILITY, WE’RE HERE FOR YOU

One of the reasons we end up in a zone of indifference, even if we don’t like that we’re there, is because it’s hard to motivate yourself to make changes without any outside support or accountability.

Or maybe your problem is that you don’t know what you’d rather be doing, so can’t make any progress until you figure it out. You’re in a catch-22, so you do nothing.

Either way, it’s a lot easier and faster to get unstuck when someone’s helping you do it (and expecting you to follow through).

So, if 2017 is the year you’d like to thrive instead of just survive, and you’d like some expert guidance and accountability to make sure it happens for you, then we hope you’ll consider joining us for the next round of our online program, The Passion Plan Virtual Experience.

Enrollment opens Tuesday, January 31st, and we’re only running this program twice this year. We won’t do it again until the last quarter of 2017.

If you’d like to spend 4 weeks getting unstuck, figuring out your passion, and getting clear on your direction, then join our VIP list. You’ll be one of the people who gets alerted when enrollment is open, and you’ll get a discounted early bird price.

So … what about you? I want to hear what you’re tolerating, and what you’re going to do about it, in the comments!

TOO LONG, DIDN’T READ? LISTEN INSTEAD!

If reading long blogs just isn’t your deal, you’re in luck:

We’re now recording our blogs for you!

Here’s Rachel reading this week’s blog:

IF YOU LIKED THIS, THEN YOU’LL ALSO LOVE …

What to do when you don’t feel inspired

How to break free from doing what’s “logical” & do what you want, instead

Do you actually hate your job? Or are you experiencing burnout? How to tell the difference.

What it really means to “waste your life”

Much Love,

Rachel (+ Kristen)

9 Comments // ADD COMMENT

9 comments

  • Gina

    Honestly, I’m afraid to feel anything anymore. The more I try, the further away I get. I keep going down the pay scale, what ever I focus on I manifest the total opposite. Everything is vibration? I think at that time my vibration is right on, and than wham, I’m set back again. If I think my vibes are in line and their not, how do I ever get it right?

    • Rachel East

      Hey Gina — This is an excellent question! It sounds like you might be plagued by some deeper fears and limiting beliefs. Focusing on your vibration and attempting to manifest what you want is great, and it’s something I think everyone should learn how to do! But energetically, what might be happening is that you’re unconsciously putting out a lower level of energy than you think. You might have some belief about not being worthy of what you desire, or that it’s not *really* possible for you, as much as you wish it were. It might be time to ask some serious questions of yourself, like: “What do I feel unworthy of?” “In what ways do I not feel like I’m enough?”

      Of course, this is hard stuff to do alone! So if you’d rather not, consider joining us for the next round of the PPVE (we spend time talking about a LOT of this stuff and helping to uncover unconscious blocks), or if you’d prefer a deeper and more personal experience, then 1-on-1 coaching is the ideal place to focus on this.

      Not sure if you’re in to Abraham-Hicks, but they’re the ultimate resource for learning how to raise your vibration. I like to go on YouTube and search “Abraham-Hicks” and then insert after that whatever subject you feel like. So, “Abraham-Hicks money” or “Abraham-Hicks confidence,” etc. There will be more videos to choose from than you could ever listen to! 🙂

  • AndreaF

    Never mind ‘rock the boat’. You’ve punctured my rubber duckie with that spiky list.

    ‘Fear having a mediocre life’. Oh, yes. BUT.

    I wish you hadn’t re-ignited my frustration. All this slow-paced ‘sort the bills’ really isn’t helping to move from survive to thrive. Progress in microns and only visible with a strong lens after the passage of many moons.

    Never mind. It’s not that bad 😉

    • Rachel East

      Hey Andrea! — Sorry about puncturing your rubber duckie! 😉 You’re so right, though … the danger of feeling neutral is that it doesn’t feel all that bad! And sometimes it takes a rude awakening to get you to the point where you’d rather choose something harder, but potentially more fulfilling and rewarding, than continuing on in that “meh” space. I think that’s probably where you’ve come to!

  • Karee

    What an honest reflective surface this posting has been! And so hard to really put into practice. If I stay in my neutral life, at least there’s safety. Looking at making a change can be so scary and full of unknowns. And if you’re doing it on your own without a solid support system, that just amplifies the anxiety. But, you’re absolutely right…no pain, no gain so to speak.

    • Rachel East

      Karee — It’s so much more difficult than it seems! Though honestly, you really only need *one* person to support you to make it easier to stay accountable. Finding a buddy who you can be honest with about the need to change, and who will check in with you about it, can make all the difference!

  • Gillian

    Lately, I have been having a lot of panic attacks and I was chalking it up to job stress. Yesterday, I had somewhat of a revelation that my panic attacks were possibly my body saying, “You don’t want this life! You need to escape!”

    I had my annual evaluation with my supervisor on Thursday and though I do my tasks well and quickly, I was told that I need to focus more on customer service which has never been my forte. There was absolutely no talk of growth or even a raise but I have been there over a year and my workload has increased. I don’t want to stay there because I don’t fit in but it still stings that I’m stagnant.

    I’ve been taking classes but every job I’m even remotely interested in requires experience. I can’t get the kind of experience necessary for those jobs with a full-time job. I want to quit but I’m not good at leaping without a safety net.

    Sorry for the word explosion. This post has definitely resonated with me this week.

    • Rachel East

      Gillian — Our bodies are constantly trying to send us messages, so even though it sucks that you had to experience a panic attack, it’s great that you listened to the message it was bringing you! You’re right, it sounds like you feel really trapped and need to have the opportunity to grow. And while I *totally* understand what you said about needing experience to get any job that you’re actually interested in, I don’t necessarily agree that you would *have* to quit your full-time job in order to qualify for something better. If I were you, I might reach out (even just cold emailing out of the blue!) to some people who do what you’re interested in (you might have to stalk some people on LinkedIn or something), and ask to have a quick conversation with them about how they got where they are. A lot of the time, we make assumptions about what’s necessary to get where we want to go, and though I’m sure you’re not *wrong,* other people might have some insight that you aren’t aware of that could make the path easier and clearer for you. And it never hurts to be in the know!

  • Clarity on Fire

    […] This guilt over wanting more than you have and trying to shame yourself into feeling grateful for things that don’t really light you up … well, I believe it’s created an epidemic of toleration (which Rachel wrote about last week). […]

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