Starting a New Chapter in Your Life

What does it mean to start a new chapter in your life?

How do you know when one chapter ends and another begins? Is it a physical boundary that you cross, or a mental boundary that you cross?

For many people, we identify “starting a new chapter in our lives” with major life events such as graduating school, starting a new career, getting married, moving to a new place, having kids, or retiring – but the truth is we can “start a new chapter in our lives” whenever we want.

We can have an infinite amount of new chapters in our lives. It all depends on when you’re willing to let something go, and when you’re willing to step in a new direction.

Starting a new chapter is ultimately something created in your mind. It’s the meaning you attach to the event that allows you to perceive the event as something that changes you or opens up a new door in your life.

One interesting thing I’m discovering more and more in psychology is the use of rituals or “symbolic behavior” to help people get over the past and open up a new chapter in their lives.

For example, there was a fascinating study published this year in The Journal of Experimental Psychology that looked at the many different ways people use rituals to help themselves overcome feelings of grief and loss.

They looked at 2 groups of people: individuals who had just experienced a failed relationship or a break up, and individuals who had just experienced the death of a loved one.

“Failed Relationship” Rituals:

  • Burning old pictures and letters.
  • Stopped listening to old music that reminded them of the person.
  • Returning to an old location, like where they had their first date, to “reflect” on the relationship.
  • Writing a letter expressing your feelings to the person (but never sending it).

“Death of a Loved One” Rituals:

  • Doing activities that they used to enjoy doing with that person.
  • Creating a song, poem, or piece of art and dedicated it to them.
  • Watching movies and listening to music that reminded them of the person and brought up positive memories with them.
  • Still setting up the dinner table for the lost family member or relative.

Rituals like these can be a very effective way to alleviate grief and loss, because they help the person find more “closure” with the experience – and once they have that, they have an easier time moving on and embracing the future.

Another really interesting thing about rituals, and using rituals to “start a new chapter in your life” is that there is no “right” or “wrong” way – all that matters is that they meansomething to the person doing them.

To an outside person, a ritual can seem silly, ridiculous, or just plain stupid, but if the person doing the ritual finds meaning and comfort in it, then it’s a valid method toward helping them create a new chapter.

Our minds are extremely sensitive to meaning. And often times, something that we see as meaningful can have a much greater impact on our lives than something we only see as rational or logical.

So to really create change in yourself and your life, you have to play more with meaning. And this entails creating “rituals” for yourself, or acting in more “symbolic” ways – because the truth is that is what our brains really respond to.



Share your thoughts!