Flatlines are a normal part of life, so move through them healthily
I’ve been experiencing some depression and dullness the last few days. Just feeling flat. Initially I was confused, as my habits had been so on point lately. They were creating such joy, so how come I was now having negative symptoms?
I realized that every kind of lifestyle, from healthy to unhealthy, fast paced or relaxed, can become subject to stagnation and monotony. We are all susceptible to getting in a rut. No matter how healthy and wholesome your lifestyle is, we still have the need for novelty.
When a given need is not being met, your deep psyche and body will let you know via emotions. When emotions arise, there are two main ways to deal with it: 1) figure out what the need is and patiently try to meet it, or 2) hedonistic escapism. In the past I have gone for the latter, as I’m sure many of us have. But this time around I feel more aware and more self- controlled. I am willing to patiently meet my need, in this case novelty.
I made a list of all the ways I can get novelty, categorizing them into different levels. There is the highest level of novelty, meaning it strongly serves my growth and evolution. This includes travel, education and training, completing and releasing projects. Then there is the second tier of novelty, including other positive things such as camping trips, festivals and events, exploring the inner realms, new hobbies and new friendships. The third tier is subtle and easy-access novelty, like new meditation techniques, new book, new podcast, new local environments to hang out, plus appreciating the progress on my current endeavours. Then the fourth and final tier is “lower” level novelties, including more destructive behaviour like certain drugs, food, unwholesome entertainment, that sort of thing. The aim is to minimize or eliminate the lower level novelties, while patiently working toward the higher level novelties.
The bigger take-away is to notice the signal when there’s a need you are not quite meeting. And then, instead of hedonistic escapism, you remain disciplined and try to meet the real need. The low feeling and urge to stimulate will fade away quickly enough, and you will be left with a feeling of emotional calm and being on the right track.
Good luck as we move through life.