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Habits and Routines Why Do We Always Follow the Same Patterns?
A very narrow path
I recently saw a very strange thing. The reason that it was strange is because I noticed something that probably nobody else would even think of. But I did, because I am a people watcher. I have always looked at people, their mannerisms, their way of doing little things, whether it is walking in a certain way, or always wearing the same sort of clothes. Why? It is just me, I have always been fascinated by psychology. The way a person thinks, acts and just is. And recently I saw a woman who lived near me, do something odd. She changed her routine. It was a simple thing, all she did was walk across the grass outside my window.
By now you are probably thinking, what on earth was strange about that? Well let me tell you. This particular woman was a person of habit. She was so much a person of habit that I could tell when she went out, what time she came in, and exactly what sort of clothes she would wear. She always walked out of her front door, came around the side of the building, straight onto the path, and followed it until it reached the alley next to my house, where she then turned into it and went about her daily business. On this day, she walked across the grass. Why? A few days before, her husband had died of a massive heart attack while out fishing.
Breaking the bond.
This may sound very strange to you, but to me it made perfect sense. Have you ever noticed how small and narrow your life is? Oh, I don't mean children, or husbands and wives, cars or houses, how much money you have. I mean you. Just you. Think about your day. Ignore the pieces that you have to do, like going to work. This is about your free time. What do you do?
Start from the very beginning. You get up. How do you get up? Do you always place your right foot on the ground first? Put on your glasses? Do you drink the water that is beside your bed, walk straight to the bathroom, clean your teeth first? How do you do it? Think.
Is everything always in the same order? What about the evenings when you watch TV. What comes on first in your world. Is it the news, followed by a drama, or sport?
The Question is why. Why do we do it this way? Try to think of how many habits you use in just one day. Then ask yourself why. Is it just the easiest way to do everything? or is it a comfort zone. Have you subconsciously programmed yourself so that everything falls into place, making your world safe? Do you somehow think that if you break your routine, your world will somehow become unsafe?
We make our own prisons. All the time we are following this unconscious path, we are actually making our minds smaller and narrower. Our comfort zone is becoming smaller and smaller. Do you ever feel panic coming on if for some reason you cannot do your rituals in the same way?
From the first second we open our eyes we go into automatic mode. If we are rich or famous, then the path we walk is fantastic. We don't need to change. But what happens when we are not in such a good position.
We are stuck, we are closing the prison door, throwing away the key, and never allowing ourselves to show our full potential. Going back to the woman I was talking about. her world had come tumbling down. She was still in shock, and without thinking she walked across the grass. Or was it subconscious? Maybe she thought, what is the point of my habit or routine now? The invisible bond that kept me safe has been broken, so now I need to change it, now I don't care any more.
Depressed or just bored?
So many of us walk through life, on a narrow strip of mental control. never stepping outside the box, never changing our ways. I know I feel so much better when I am back inside my house, making tea, sitting in my certain place on the sofa, and watching my favourite programmes.
Is that why we are sometimes depressed? Depression comes in all states. The obvious depression when you are just fed up, and of course clinical depression which is a chemical state of mind. But there is another state of depression that we don't even think about. We all want lots of money, cars and fame.
But what can we do to change it? So many of us step outside our box sometimes, but always come scurrying back. We have to learn to undo these habits. Starting from the moment we open our eyes. Now we know that we are doing it, we have to use our conscious minds to deliberately move on.
I actually did something very different today. I took myself of to the Cinema, all on my own.
I felt fed up, depressed trapped. So instead of feeling sorry for myself, I pushed myself and took myself out. It was outside anything that I would normally do. Especially as I saw couples and families everywhere. But I had a great afternoon.
Do you suffer from panic attacks ? I know I do. But the question is, do I suffer from them because I am scared to change my habits, or is it because I don't? Maybe our mind is telling us to get off our backsides, change ourselves in as many ways as we can, and then maybe our mental health will start to heal and we will feel better and more relaxed.
We always presume that if we run back to our comfort zone then we will be safe. maybe we don't realise that actually our minds are screaming at us, change for goodness sake! It doesn't have to be a drastic move. Just comb your hair differently, buy the brighter shirt that you know you like but feel is not right for your. Or maybe walk a different way to work. Or drive, all depending on how far it is. How much do you know about your town? Are there some parts you haven't seen in years? Why? Because You always walk the same path. What you need is a bit of positive psychology.
Don't wait for something horrible to happen, or just inconvenient. Get out of the habit and do something different. Try a small change to start with, and then build it up. The comfort zone is in your head. Make it brighter. Walk across the grass.
A few Ideas for Changing your Routines and habits.
1. Change your route to work. if you drive, go the other way if it is possible. Not only will this make your day feel different and fresh, it will also make your concentration more alert.
Most people who have accidents on their way to work do so because they are so used to the route, they drive in mental automatic, therefore if anything unusual happens, i.e. a person crossing the road, a cyclist suddenly veering in front of you, or even an animal suddenly appearing, will make you take longer to react therefore resulting in an accident. Wake up your mind by 'seeing' your roads for the first time.
2. Leave the car a bit further from work or the shops. you might surprise yourself. When was that new housing estate built? I never knew there was a park there. I used to take the kids this way when they were small, I had forgotten how lovely this part of town was.
3. Throw away that old coat that you wear every single day. I know it goes with the shoes, but hey change the shoes!
4. Go to a different restaurant. You know the one I mean, the place that you think you will not like. You might just love it. this goes for pubs, clubs and any activities.
5. Go on holiday in your town or city. This may sound strange, but when was the last time you took in the sites? Go on the river, in the tourist boat. Ever done that? No? It is fun, I have done it myself. Go and visit your local museums, or art galleries, they have probably changed beyond recognition since you were last there. If you live in a small town, go to the nearest one that you haven't bothered with for years.
6. Stop! Change your make-up, don't keep using the same old colours and lipsticks. Think before you put them on. Same old hairstyle? cut it, or grow it long, all depending on what you have now. Stop wearing black all the time, go for something colourful.
7. Go swimming, I know you can't swim. Learn! Or join a gym. You are never too old. If you don't want to join, just try it for a few days, this might open your mind to doing something that you never knew you liked!
8. Change the TV channels. For one night, just turn on the channels that you never ever watch. No, I don't mean those channels! Art, music, world news, antiques, anything that doesn't involve the usual dramas or soaps. Imagine your TV is broken and these are the only things that you can watch.
9. Go the the Cinema. I know it is easy just to rent a DVD, but go and see it on the big screen. I did, I had forgotten how great it was. You feel like you are in the picture. If you are married go and sit in the back row and make out! lol bet you haven't done that for a while. In the Cinema I mean! Seriously it is a great evening out. Then take in a meal somewhere different. If you go to restaurants, then just go to a McDonald's, or vice versa.
10. Walk everywhere. if this is practical, and you don't live right out in the sticks, go and walk. Forget you have got the car. You will begin to realise that there is a whole world out there that you are missing. Usually you get in the car, don't see anybody until you get to work or the supermarket, and then just jump back in, and go home. You have forgotten that there is a world of flowers with wonderful smells, colour, people laughing, people you haven't seen for years. Kid's playing in the football park, conversations outside houses,and laughter. But most importantly, fresh air and blue sky. Wonderful.
And just one more thing before I go. Hubpages! How many of you are stuck in the same routine of how you read and make comments to your fellow hubber? Do you always read the same people who comment on your Hub? Or do you go to your Account page and scroll down? Why not start at the bottom? There are so many great writers that you miss because when you start at the top, you soon find a Hub that you are interested in, and then read quite a lot more of them, and then it is time to go to bed and you haven't got to the good ones at the bottom. So try going to the bottom of the list and start there.
Also why not put aside a couple of evenings a week just to look for some more great Hubs? There are some fantastic writers out there, instead of just going to the same topics, try one that you would not normally think you were interested in. You might be surprised!