A few months ago I challenged myself to be aware of each of my senses while I was walking to class. I listened intently as my eyes darted back and forth. I took deep, full breaths, and I felt the breeze on my skin and the earth under my feet. I was amazed at how many new things were being presented to me. I had walked the same path a hundred times before, but this felt like the first time. Birds were singing at the top of their lungs to the beat of the footsteps of those walking around me. Bricks, leaves, and signs were beckoning me to see them. The wind swept around me like a blanket, and the ground made my feet feel alive. I smelled a type of sweetness that seemed to have been there for years waiting to get my attention.

This experience made me realize how mindless I had been. It is so easy to get into a routine and trick yourself into believing life has to be the same every day. I walk by the same building every day. I see my classmates every day. I eat at the sandwich shop on the corner every Thursday. The monotony of life has a way of making us think that it is void of opportunity, but the truth is that we simply are using this as an excuse to turn off our brains and look at our phones instead. It’s much easier, isn’t it? To check your Instagram instead of telling a stranger you like their shoes. Or to Snapchat a moment rather than drink it in. Why should I look around me when I can look at my screen? Why should I listen to the wind in the trees when I can listen to the new playlist I made? We tell ourselves that life is boring and if we aren’t jumping on planes to spend a month backpacking Europe then we are sentenced to days of zero newness.

I am here to tell you that you can experience newness by simply being mindful. You can travel continents by merely being conscious of the one you are on. Open your ears and eyes a little wider. Be curious. Make the choice to discover beauty in something as small as a blade of grass or a piece of garbage on the street. Challenge yourself to make something entirely old and familiar become strange and wholly significant. This life is only as dull as you allow yourself to believe.

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