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Saturday, February 4, 2023

New beginnings: why we should dare to break new ground more often

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Just in time for the new year, many of us are in a spirit of optimism. We have the best of intentions and want to change our lives – at least for a few weeks. Ideally, we should never lose our desire to start over.

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New Year New luck? It’s the same every year: For a few days, weeks or sometimes months, many of us finally get the courage to change something in our lives – even if it’s just going to the gym regularly. When the year changes, we are more open to new beginnings. It is precisely this openness that we should maintain throughout the year.

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Unfortunately, we humans are creatures of habit. We are only too happy to remain in our comfort zone. And often so long that it is not only uncomfortable, but almost unbearable. So we cling to relationships in which no one has been happy for a long time or invest valuable time and energy in the job that only frustrates us day after day.

The main thing is that your own worldview is right

Look familiar? Don’t worry – you’re not alone. There are even some theories in science as to why we would rather settle for dissatisfaction than change anything in our lives. For example the “Prospect Theory”. It says that we secretly hope that our frustration will eventually pay off. So we avoid starting new things.

It’s a bit like gambling machines, into which we keep throwing money in order to hit the jackpot after all. Unfortunately, gambling is not only addictive, but often robs us of our (financial) resources. This is where the principle of “cognitive dissonance” comes into play. Instead of admitting that we’ve gone in the wrong direction – for example, by throwing more and more money into the machine – we do everything we can not to fail in order to be able to maintain our coherent worldview.

The only problem is: If we lead a life that doesn’t suit us, then all the commitment in the world will do us no good. At some point we will have to admit that a change is needed. At the latest when your own resources are at the limit. In this context, the sociologist Annelie Keil speaks in her book “When life calls for help”, otherwise of an “unlived life”. She is certain that anyone who repeatedly refuses to start over will not only make themselves unhappy, but also ill in the long run.

Why new beginnings frighten us

Nevertheless, we often only act when we have long been in a genuine life crisis. The impulses that really bring us to a new beginning can be roughly broken down into two major motivators: suffering and passion. Either the level of suffering is greater than our evolutionary fear of the uncertainty that starting over brings – or our passion for a goal or dream overshadows the potentially negative sides of a lifestyle change.

But what are we really afraid of? In order for something new to begin, we must say goodbye to something old. And we humans are not made for letting go. We are hunters, gatherers and herd animals – we need company and a certain level of structure and security to feel comfortable. If we now decide for a new beginning, then we have to leave old patterns, dreams and values ​​behind. This is often accompanied by a queasy gut feeling.

But if we take a closer look, we will find that life, by its very nature, is already a string of new beginnings and goodbyes. We learn to walk and stop crawling. We start working and leave school behind us. We are moving out of our parents’ house to start a new phase of life in our own home…

Courage to start over!

We have everything that makes up our lives today – be it our relationship, job or our circle of friends – because at some point we said “yes” to a new beginning at the right moment. New beginnings are something completely natural. Of course, it still requires courage to embark on a new path in life. But if we manage to lose the awe of the new beginning and instead see the opportunities in the new, then sometimes completely new possibilities open up.

It’s like this: We all (probably) only have this one life. And life only very rarely runs in a straight line. Above all, the many turns into unknown terrain far away from your own comfort zone are what make life special. Hardly anyone would like to know exactly where they will be at the end of 2023, right? So: If you are dissatisfied with your current life and have a dream that you don’t dare to dream, then just ask yourself: why not?

Source: Stern

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