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The Labyrinth of Life: Is There Cheese on That Path?

By Joanie Marx December 24, 2021 Mindset

If you are like many people over the age of 60, you probably have some life experiences that prompted you to question why you stayed in an uncomfortable situation for as long as you did.

With a new year fast approaching, there is no better time than now to determine if there is a path you have been on that requires a change in 2022.

On the surface this may seem easy enough. So why is it so challenging to make changes to a path we know is not producing the results we desire, let alone step off that path altogether – if that is what is needed?

The Unchangeable Path

Whether it was relationships, job, place you lived, or a combination of them, our generation was taught to follow a designated path for our life. This path, we were told was for our own good.

While the window dressing of the path may look different for each of us, the underlying premise remained relatively the same. The path we were guided to was unchangeable, and therefore unchallengeable.

If we wanted our desired outcomes to materialize, we could not give up on this designated path, without suffering harsh repercussions. Yet, how many in our generation suffered through emotional, mental, physical, and financial challenges by remaining in one place for too long?

There are many reasons for this. Five to be precise.

I call them The Five Reasons People Stay on a Cheese-Less Path. Before I share these five reasons, let us understand what a mouse can teach us about a ‘cheese-less path’.

A Predictable Script

Consider how a mouse navigates a maze it believes contains a piece of cheese. A mouse is relentless in a pursuit of a script that plays over in its little mind.

It is a script that promises: “There is cheese down a path!”

This predictable script drives the very purpose of the mouse. The mouse, however, does not get hung up on one specific path.

A master of improvisation, the sole intent of the mouse is locating the cheese where it is in the maze. If it is not down one path, the mouse will shift its focus and go search for it elsewhere.

This is the opposite of the script most people were given to follow for a happy, loving, and fulfilling life.

Rather than use their imagination to flip the script on their life’s narrative, most people not only stay where they are, but they refuse to give up on what is not working.

The Stigma of Giving Up

The stigma about giving up is that it is seen as a sign of weakness. Giving up is so misunderstood that most of us have gone to great lengths not to be perceived as quitters, only to suffer greatly as a result.

Staying in one place that is not fulfilling does not create new results. It stunts emotional growth, especially in the development of one’s imagination.

No one would accuse a mouse of giving up or lacking imagination when it changes direction and ventures along a new path to find cheese.

Why, then, is it so difficult for people to accept a new course of action if the current path is producing ongoing pain, struggle, and suffering?

5 Reasons People Stay on a Cheese-Less Path

  1. Being told “the cheese would be down that path” by someone you respected and trusted.
  2. Believing “the cheese would be down that path” because you were diligent in following the instructions given to you, doing all that was asked and required of your efforts.
  3. Believing you are entitled to have the cheese down the path where you were promised it would be found.
  4. Believing that by waiting and then fuming, raging, and demanding the cheese be there will make it miraculously appear.
  5. Believing you have an infinite amount of time and energy to stand in one place and wait until the cheese materializes.

Charting a New Path

If you wish to make changes in 2022 to a particular path you are on right now, you will want to choose a path that has little to no resistance. This requires giving yourself permission to make things easier by accessing your imagination as you once did as a child.

Your imagination opens you up to envisioning a new, fulfilling pathway. It also helps clarify why you stayed on a path that yielded few, if any, positive experiences, making it easier to give up on the old path of struggle.

Giving yourself permission to try a different path, while imagining less struggle and more joy, liberates you from remaining stuck on a ‘cheese-less path’.

I invite you to journal your answers to the following, or share them in the comments below:

How would your life improve if you gave yourself the encouragement and permission to improvise, and even to fail without feeling shame? If you followed your heart without limiting the path you go down, what would your life look and feel like in 2022? Imagine what kind of world this would be if current and future generations were given the support to use their imagination to create new, more fulfilling paths.

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The Author

Joanie Marx is a three-time bestselling author and the creator of the new, groundbreaking Refocus & Renew Your Life® online course series on Udemy. She is a graduate of the University of California, Berkeley, with a degree in Psychology, and a leading authority on refocusing and renewing your life.

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