15 September 2015
dance all night play all day don’t let nothing get in the way dance all night keep the beat don’t you worry ‘bout two left feet just shake it up ~The Cars, Shake it Up, 1981
I’ve been receiving a daily mindfulness prompt in my email this month. Amongst a lot of great suggestions for increasing awareness and appreciation of our lives, one tip in particular shot right into me, arrowed out into my day and is carrying forward, little ripples becoming bigger waves of change.
This was this prompt:
Change Up Your Routine: Many of us are creatures of habit and often our most deep-seated patterns of thought and action are formed unconsciously. Without realizing it we form deep grooves with our habits, and they begin to insidiously shape our lives and decisions. Yet, we also have the power to rewire those habits and rediscover the possibilities of each moment. This shift can be sparked in the midst of our most ordinary activities. At some point today, experiment with doing something that is not usual for you. Perhaps you’ll take a different route to your office, try something new on the menu for lunch, or brush your teeth using your non-dominant hand. Maybe you’ll change up your routine by taking a 5-minute walk outside during lunch. Whatever you decide to do, bring your full attention to it and enjoy the moments!
A pretty simple suggestion, right? So, I didn’t even suspect how much possibility it contained. I just plowed right in. And started realizing how typically I operate on automatic. This small act of noticing my habits with the intent of slightly modifying things takes life off auto-drive and makes things fresh, engaging and enticing.
There’s power in this. Stepping off the treadmill is an act of creation. Creativity is a form of self-expression. Of choice and power.
There’s expansion in this. It’s easy to think the way we do things is The Way To Do Things. Doing something familiar in a different way is a reminder that lots of the routines we follow by rote are arbitrary. Remember the story about the woman who always cut off the end of her roast because her mother had done it that way? When she finally thought to ask her mom why, it turned out her mom’s roast was just too big for her pan.
There’s freedom in this. Habits can gain dominion over us. The way we think about a person can become fixed and hard. A fear can become a rutted road in our heads. Routines can blind us to options. All this can add up to a feeling that we are trudging through our days with the snow up to our knees and a heavy pack on our back.
In mixing things up—there’s fun too.
The first day I tried this, small sizzles of excitement began to buzz in me. A detour became a chance to explore a new section of town. Getting interrupted, I began again with a different approach. I followed impulses. I gave myself permission to make mistakes, because of course we will make mistakes when we try new things. I left the dishes in the sink. I did six things at once. I let the unexpected thing be an opportunity instead of an inconvenience.
I began to glow. A spark of fire kindled. An eagerness to see what came next. What else I could do in a different way. To see what novelty I could fashion into my days.
Creativity engages us. Novelty perks us up. Stirs our interest. Brings us to attention. Gets our fun receptors ready. Opens up spontaneity.
It doesn’t have to be big. I encourage you to try shaking things up. See what happens when you change up your work out, step outside the lines you’ve drawn to define your personality, wear something unlike you, or follow an impulse. Crack the window or throw open the door. Tweak your ‘normal’.
I wonder if, like I am, you’ll find yourself pulling in deep, invigorating drafts of fresh air and a curiosity about what you might be up to next.