How can I live a more fulfilling life when I am stuck in the same day-to-day routine?
There are times when we have all felt like we are in somewhat of a rut. Whether that be at work, in school, or in our extracurricular activities, there are times when we get just plain tired of what it is that we are doing on a routine basis. The same 9 to 5 grind of a job can become very boring to someone who has been working the same job for decades, or an aspiring guitarist may not want to sit in their room practicing their chord changes and pentatonic scales for hours upon hours. Quite simply, repetitive tasks become boring, and as time progresses, it becomes more difficult to find fulfilling meaning in the mundane.
There are times in my own life where I have certainly become bored of the things that I am doing every single day, including my jobs, my schoolwork, and developing my skills in things like music, reading, and writing. Working on a berry farm is also not the first thing that brings excitement to people. Neither is working a retail job, or practicing music every day, or even, in my case, going to the same college for six years to complete a triple major curriculum.
The work on the berry farm was gruesome and exhausting in the summer heat all day, my schoolwork has been a long and expensive process, and my job in retail was met with several unpleasant customers on a daily basis. And yet, even as I write about these past experiences of mine, I type with content and joy just at the thought of these. Looking back at it, it was because PERMA theory was well applied during the time, even though I was not even aware of the theory in my younger days. (See “The Power of Positive Psychology” Post. For a better account of the theory, click the following link: https://ppc.sas.upenn.edu/learn-more/perma-theory-well-being-and-perma-workshops)
Perhaps the most important part that was applied out of the theory was the relationships component. Even in the mundane tasks of my life, it brings me great joy to think about the connections I’ve made with people over the years through the jobs that I’ve held. I also felt a strong sense of accomplishment to finish the job for the day, knowing that I did a job well done. Finally, I found that when I engaged in my work to the best of my ability, the work went by much quicker and I felt more fulfillment in the process. Engagement, according to PERMA theory and supported by my own experience, is best achieved when one’s talents are used to the best of their ability. So perhaps it is advisable to find employment in something that you know you can do well in, even if it is relatively mundane. Even though my six years at the same college feels relatively mundane and repeatable, my engagement in applying what I believe are my talents to this goal makes the process much more meaningful and go by more quickly.
So while I am a little more hard-pressed to state the explicit positive emotions or meaning of some of the mundane jobs and tasks I’ve done in the past, I still was able to apply elements of PERMA to my overall sense of well-being and fulfillment throughout the process. I hope that if you feel like you are stuck in whatever situation you are in right now, you can at least reflect and use some of the tools that I tried, including finding value in the relationships you make, the accomplishments you achieve, and the engagement you experience. So at this point, I invite you to think about your current situation. Reflect on the relationships in your vocation, whatever that may be. Is there a connection that you’ve made with someone through your vocation that you wouldn’t have made otherwise? If so, then think about that person when you think about your vocation. For accomplishment, reflect on the job that you did for the day, and give yourself the opportunity to appreciate that you did something good for your development or for the world today. Finally, for engagement, ask yourself about what talents you feel you possess. Are you given the opportunity to use these to the best of your ability? If so, then great, because if you give your best effort, it can be a very fulfilling experience met with content and peacefulness, even if what you do everyday is mundane. If not, then perhaps contemplate whether or not you should continue with that line of work or activity, if that is a possibility.
Thanks again for reading my thoughts on PERMA theory and how I have applied it into my own life. I hope that this helps you readers, and feel free to leave any comments below. Thank you!