- Repetition and Routine as the hidden handicappers of embracing life
- How routine and repetition impacted me recently
- Considerations for how they can impact you and what you can do
Idle hands are the Devil’s workshop, or so they say. I am not here to debate the merits of that statement, although it would be interesting. There are things else in the world outside of idle hands that are some of the largest proponents of woe and misery today- repetition and routine.
Coming from a family that leans heavy towards the obsessive compulsive mindset, routine and repetition are our closest neighbors, we wave hello to them every morning and invite them over for Sunday brunch. Branching out further, expanding the scope to society as a whole (at least the American society I am familiar with), it can be easily seen that routine and repetition have not just pervaded our lives, but have infected it, captured it, tortured it and ground us down. The worst part about all of it is that routine and repetition are so sneaky, so conniving that they have brainwashed us into believing that they are needed, a simple fact of life, just how things are. They do not have to be.
Variety is truly the spice of life (to be cliché).
My journey over the past few months has been eye opening. I have learned more about myself than anticipated (and I expected a lot). My view of the world has changed drastically. It is not just about career change (that is part of it); my world in the past few months has been riddled with unexpected loss, undo stressors, uncomfortable situations that have forced me to confront deep seeded notions of who I am, what I believe in, and how I impact the people around me. The road has taken many twists and turns as of late, and along the way I have brushed against some thorny undergrowth on my way to truth.
One component of that journey has been my realization regarding the toxic nature of engraining oneself in routine and repetition. This dangerous duo can manifest in countless forms: taking relationships for granted, bad dietary and or fitness habits, accepting sub-par working conditions, avoiding dangerous health symptoms, being oblivious to others’ desperate outreach, and perhaps most tragically, a general and overall apathy for life and missing out on the possibility of the true wonder and amazement that can come with each day.
Life is overwhelming for all of us in some way or another, to varying extents. Routine and repetition are what some may call tools, others will call crutches, there to help us avoid having to see each day as a unique life experience, equal parts exciting and terrifying. In general, we are not equipped, nor do we have the energy (unfortunately) to approach each day as a new adventure, open our minds up to the possibilities, see every item, even those most commonplace fresh and rediscover life with each moment. As a society we have set up our lives in a way that will not allow for this type of fresh-eyed childlike approach. I will acknowledge that there are benefits to routine and repetition in certain niches and situations, but as a whole, when taken to the extremes that we have become accustomed to, they deprive us of a baseline satisfaction and appreciation for life and learning.
In my most recent revelation, I discovered that routine and repetition were impacting my daily life in serious and negative ways. I found myself doing what was comfortable, not challenging myself, taking relationships for granted, accepting life situations that were a hindrance and contributors to negative mental states simply because they were convenient and easy. I was slipping and forgetting how to see each day as an adventure, open my eyes and see the wonder and excitement that encapsulates existence. It takes energy, often times a lot to approach each day anew; it is easier to do what is known, what is comfortable, what is right in front of us, even if it hurts us.
For myself, I have found that it takes daily intention, constant recalibration to avoid the duo of repetition and routine. It has only been a few days since my revelatory refocus, but it has been a godsend. As an artist and a creative mind, I am always thinking abstract in so many mediums; sad to say that the basic premise of living each day had started to be excluded from that list. No more. I am dedicated to allowing routine and repetition to have their proper places in small doses for select situations, while recommitting to opening my eyes and challenging the status quo of what makes up a day.
Consider for yourself, what do I do each day that falls into a routine and repetition cycle?
What things are appropriate to have routine and repetition for? Which life segments are hurt or not allowed to flourish by routine and repetition?
Once you have established your starter list, it is time to commit and take action. The action will be different for each of us. It may be that we need to avoid certain situations, approach people differently, take a risk on something that scares us (the unknown), or we may need to have tough conversations and cut out items that we once believed were vital in our life. Whatever the case, the overarching message is of a fresh approach and a moment by moment appreciation for life. It does not matter if it applies to your career, your family, or you as an individual, the message remains the same.
Looking back, I want to (need to be able to) say that I saw the wonders of life; I embraced the day, the choices, the options, and the great unknown.
- Routine and repetition pervade our lives, often times in negative ways
- By taking some time to reflect and open ourselves up to new approaches, we can combat these negative impacts
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