How much of your life do you go around on autopilot? Whether it’s your morning ritual, the route you drive to work, what you do when you reach the office, what you eat, or what you do in the evening much of our lives are spent in routines that can turn us into robots instead of curious, wide awake people.
Not that routines are all bad. Routines can make life more comfortable and efficient. Not having to think about what you’re going to have for breakfast every day saves you time in the morning as you scurry about to get to work. And, your boss would probably appreciate you not getting lost on your way to work as you explore a new way to get there every day.
However, if we’re not careful, we can begin to lose the richness of life by never shaking up our routines. An antidote to “routine” is mindfulness. Mindfulness helps you bring a beginner’s mind to your life so that you see things as if for the first time. Or as defined by Ellen Langer, mindfulness is “a flexible state of mind in which we are actively engaged in the present, noticing new things and sensitive to context.” And, in fact, everything that you see in this moment is new and fresh. It just takes the eyes of mindfulness to see this incredible truth. As I sit here this morning drinking my coffee, I realize that this cup of coffee is different than any other cup of coffee I’ve ever had. Or as the slogan in Portland’s Public Domain coffee shop says, “Coffee should be an experience, not just a routine.”
Breaking out of your habits and routines can be quite simple and straightforward. It can be as simple as not sitting in the same chair at the dining table or in the meeting at work, switching off the television and reading at night, taking a different route to work. In addition, approaching your relationships with colleagues, friends, and family as if they were new and interesting (and maybe they really are!) can invigorate your connections with others.
Break out of one of your routines each day for the rest of the week. See what happens. And, if you discover something really cool, comment or go on my TastingMindfulness Facebook and tell me about it.
Enjoy and Savor!