Insanity: doing the same thing over and over again and expecting different result.
~ Albert Einstein

Did you know when you change up your routine and remove yourself from rut of the same old-same old, your brain creates new neural networks? Meaning your brain actually grows new pathways or nerve “highways”?

When we expand our experience of the world by changing things up (by taking a vacation, meeting new people, or even just slightly varying our daily routines) we expand who we are, physically, emotionally, mentally and possibly even spiritually. If we don’t change things up, we don’t grow.

If you have not seen the movie “Yes Man” starring comedian Jim Carey, I advise you to do so. Here’s the premise of the movie: Jim Carey is a man of habit. He lives and dies by the clock. One day he goes to a seminar and makes a pledge that anytime someone asks him to do something, he must say, “Yes!” As a result, he finds himself doing things he would have never dreamed of doing—but he also meets the woman of his dreams and gets a huge promotion! Talk about a change for the better. This is an extreme illustration, but it does indicate the power of freeing yourself from your routine to change your life for the better.

Neurologists and research scientist have concluded that when our brain cells travel repeatedly on familiar routes, neural networks specific to our repeated behaviors will be created. And oddly enough, those same pathways may even influence your behaviors, essentially begging you to “feed” the network. We can see this neurological process enacted in cases of addiction, especially. It’s difficult to shake any habit, good or bad.

A study was conducted to illustrate how an imposed condition may lead to repetitive behavior. In the study, frogs were placed in a jar with a screened lid. In the first days, the frogs jumped high enough to hit against the lid of the jar in their attempts to escape. After a few weeks researchers observed that the frogs had started jumping to a point just below the lid, so that they no longer hit the screen. Then the researchers removed the jar lids. But the frogs continued to jump to a point just below where the lid had been—hence preventing their own escape by their self-limited behavior. The habit had already been formed.

Ask yourself: how many freedoms in your life are limited by your own repetitive behaviors? Consciously changing things up could help you to expand your thoughts and emotions. This broadening of who you are could lead you to a more fulfilling and satisfying existence!

Here are a few tips on how to break out of the rut and change your life.

Take a vacation. Getting away allows you to get back in touch with you. New sensory experiences take us out of our comfort zone, which helps us to better tune into ourselves. When we pay attention to new sights, smells and sounds we stimulate new neural pathways!

Change what’s on your plate. Experiment with culinary tastes and textures you are not familiar with. Eat a pomegranate or passion fruit! Have you ever tried Limoncella, the Italian lemon liqueur? Or what about escargot? Stop eating the same old things. Try something new.

Take a class. Do you have an interest in music, art, yoga, meditation, ballroom dancing? Follow that interest! Learning new info or a new activity will create those new neural pathways you need.

Can you think of other ways to expand your experience of the world? Share your suggestions in the comments, below!