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Refurbishing Our Minds

Have you ever considered that our minds can be refurbished? A little tune-up in midlife? When we do – when we take the time to do the work – the whole world sparkles with newness.

It was a line, toward the end of a newspaper article, that caught my eye.

“… a certain dullness of thought that gathers over time if we make no serious efforts to refurbish our minds.”

It pulled up a chair, made a home in my brain and started a conversation.

It was buried in a review in our local paper of an exhibition at the Centre Pompidou in Paris that was called “Bacon: Books and Paintings”. The display consisted of the artist’s later works and, interestingly, the books that he notes as important influences on his life. The reviewer was so-so about the exhibit and I was quite sure I wouldn’t be attending but it was the idea of books influencing the painting that drew me into the article.

And then that statement.

Ruts and Routines

What a great description of a rut and of the hazards we can so easily fall into in middle age and beyond.

Think about it. By the time we’re in our 40’s and 50’s, we have become quite settled in our routines. Unless something dramatic happens, we do the same work every day. If we go out to do this work, we often take the same route or the same train. The 7:12 into Penn Station carries the same folks every day. We nod in recognition before we go back to our newspaper or smart phone. We gradually notice when they’re missing but don’t give it a lot of thought. We’re on auto-pilot.

We do the same on the reverse trip. On the weekends we dash to the same markets and see the same friends and go to the same handful of restaurants.

Now, don’t get me wrong. There is comfort and a good dash of sanity in routine. My hand is raised in solidarity. But I have found that when the rut grows too deep, it blocks out the view of other possibilities and dulls our imagination. The windows of our soul cry out for a little Windex.

Refurbishing our minds

But, refurbishing our minds. I thought about how I had gone through a refurbishing process several times already in my life and what a good description of what I do with my clients.

Refurbishing doesn’t have to be a “tear down to the studs and rebuild” like my sister’s doing with her house. It can be a simple “paint the bathroom cabinets and get new hardware” like I’m planning to do.

Because, first and foremost, refurbishing is about waking up and seeing where we are. It’s about cleaning off the dull finish and tending to what is beneath the accumulated grime. It’s about small questions and small steps that build and take you where you need to go.

Take those cabinets in my bathroom. I’ve seen them every day until, eventually, I stopped seeing them. Until I looked at them with an eye to what I might have to do if I wanted to put my house on the market. The view cleared.

Take a close look

What would you see if you truly looked at your routine? At your state of mind? At your dreams and plans? Would it be satisfying? If so, great. Marinate in that feeling; consciously appreciate it. It will become even more satisfying.

Or, is it too painful to look? Full of remorse and lost dreams? Does it feel like a tear down and start from scratch? That’s overwhelming and for that I would suggest some talk therapy which can make worlds of difference.

Maybe you’re somewhere in between. That’s where most of us are.

Overwrite the old ruts

The good news is that that’s fixable. Minds can be refurbished. But it doesn’t happen overnight. You didn’t create that rut in a day and you won’t eliminate it that quickly either. In fact, you won’t eliminate it at all. You will overwrite it. You’ll choose a new path which might be poorly lit at first. There will be some trial and error.

It can start with very little effort – a different route home, trying a new restaurant, watching a movie or reading a book in a genre you’ve never tried. These beginning, conscious steps will lead to more. Ask a small question: what can I do today that’s out of my normal? Keep asking. When you take these initial small steps, you begin to realize that there’s so much more to life than your rut. You cease living in a one-dimensional life and uncover the multidimensional you.

Another thing about refurbishing is that it presumes you have something worthwhile to restore. You do. And when you do – when you take the time to tend to your Multidimensional Life – the world looks new. Even the poorly lit path holds excitement and a sense of adventure. You feel the shackles drop off you; bindings loosen. Where you felt like you had nothing to move toward, you see multiple possibilities.

I speak from experience.

There’s an adventure ahead

When you choose to carve a new path, it will be an expedition into the unknown riches that exist within you. The process is a reward in itself. This is just one aspect of a Multidimensional Life.

You may not hang in the Centre Pompidou in Paris, but oh, what a masterpiece you’ll be!

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