Let’s face it, we all like our routine. Even those people who share they decide at the “spur of the moment” brush their teeth in the same pattern every day. We are creatures of habit, and in order to embrace metamorphosis, our routine needs to be upended, thrown in the dryer, sent on three rounds of a roller coaster, and get capsized.
Research shows that one way to keep your brain sharp (and those of us in mid-life know the mind is the first thing to slip) is to make slight changes to your daily habits. Maybe you take a different route to the grocery store than usual. Or you try a new store altogether.
Something about the thought it takes to deviate from the regular daily pattern keeps the electricity charging through your brain. That’s all it takes to keep it engaged enough that it won’t conveniently forget where you hid that anniversary gift so your spouse wouldn’t find it. (Don’t worry. You’ll find it in a few years, and it will be a happy reunion.)
I started my path to metamorphosis a little early. The day after my last birthday, I cleared my schedule so I could take my car to the dealer for application of the protective package they worked hard to sell us.
Here’s all the ways this little “detour” shook up my daily routine:
- I had to get dressed and “presentable” a full half-hour earlier than I would for any substitute teaching job (I missed this one by five or six minutes)
- I had to navigate big-city traffic on unfamiliar roads between my husband’s office and the dealership
- First time driving into the fancy auto-door service bays, filling out paperwork and driving off in a loaner car (a smaller and not as technologically advanced version of my car)
- Pack up my “office” and work in the Hillsboro Public Library
- Eat lunch with my husband
And there were more. In fact, it turned into a L-O-O-N-G day away from home. From 7am to 8:45pm. Believe me, my cats were NOT impressed.
Neither was I as my stomached tightened when the traffic closed around me. Or when my computer battery flashed low and I was scouting for a power outlet in an unfamiliar environment.
My stomach rebelled at more non-home-cooked food.
My brain cells? They were firing like an Independence Day fireworks barge. Sparks were flying. Old neural pathways were zapped while new neural highways settled into place.
In fact, I sense enough of a shake up that I can return to my daily routine for six to eight weeks without harm to my aging gray matter. (This is NOT research-based information. More like wishful thinking.)
This single day may have been an earthquake in my world of happy routines, but it didn’t hurt me. I managed to edit pages in the quiet of the library. My internal navigation system didn’t lead me into mighty detours.
Did I change into a butterfly-like creature of Portland traffic? Not hardly. After all, change is a process, not a single epic event.
What can you do to shake up your daily routine? Have you tried this will less-than-happy results?