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Mix It Up

September, 2018

Shaw's Lot, Gloucester, MA   Photo by Martha Clark Scala

There's Joy In Doing Something Different

We do like our routines, don’t we? But sometimes routines become ruts. In a rut, we are at risk of stagnation.

“But we always do it that way.”

Do you utter sentences like this? Is it used as an argument to keeping doing it that way? What about trying a different way? Would it really disrupt your life that much? And if it does, could there be an upside to that disruption?

This isn’t a call to toss out all routines in favor of variety or the unpredictable. It is an invitation to experiment and expand, and here’s why:

We need to develop a strong “muscle” of flexibility because life just isn’t always predictable. If this muscle is strong, we are more prepared for unexpected disturbances in our routine. It’s not that we won’t freak out, or be bothered. But we might have more skills in our toolbox to cope with what we must face.

For example, what happens when we experience the death of a loved one? Even if it is an anticipated ending, the finality of a loss still upsets our normal rhythms, requiring adjustment to what some grief and loss counselors describe as a “new normal.”

Some routines will be altered temporarily. Others will be forcibly changed, permanently. It is just part of the process. I’d rather go through that process with some confidence that I can survive or even thrive despite a loss of routine. The best way to build that confidence is to practice. That “muscle” of flexibility needs to be strengthened by way of reps, as bodybuilders would say.

What purpose do routines serve, anyway? Observing my own routines, I identified the following benefits:

Predictability: There is comfort in things being done the same way.

Conserved energy: Established routines may take less effort and require less brain power.

Expedience: A faster pace is revered in this culture.

But what if we need to use our brains more? What if doing an activity differently enlivens us? Must we always argue for expedience over expansion?

And what if something being a little less predictable brings a spark of joy? Isn’t this why we travel to new places for vacations or try a different restaurant? We also journey elsewhere in books, movies, online, etc.

This is the spice of life. Don’t you want your “meal” to be as tasty as it can be?

How have you mixed it up recently? And did this cultivate or heighten feelings of joy? I’d love to know.

Comments on this blog post are welcome — see the bottom of this page.


Prompts For Joy

Click here to see what happens to Seinfeld character, George Costanza, when he does the opposite of his usual behavior.

Click here to see how you can mix it up with your fingers.

Click here for all previous Prompts for Joy.


Pictured Above

Shaw’s Lot, Gloucester, MA: I took a challenge from an Instagram buddy and mixed it up by taking black and white photos five days in a row. This was taken on day one.

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