As the years go by, we tend to develop different habitual modes: work mode, home mode, weekend mode, vacation mode, out mode, and even fun mode. Thoughts and emotions become actions, actions become habits, and habits all too often pile one upon another to become set routines or “habitual modes”. Even the most spontaneous people are susceptible to these modes because it’s so much easier for our brain to replay the tried and tested than to improvise. A bit of newness every once in a while, then, can help keep us fresh.
Newness refreshes the brain, makes us more mindful, and often also gives us the opportunity to pause what we are doing and look at things more deeply. It’s also a good way to prevent boredom and discontentment and discourage the mind from over-thinking. It’s a gift others may give us from time to time, but which is best if we give ourselves every day.
Newness can take any form you want. It can be the newness of a new hobby, the newness of doing something you would not normally do, the newness of traveling, the newness of meeting new people, the newness of reading books from a genre different from what you usually read, the newness of discovering new music or new styles of cinema, the newness of exercising, the newness of spending your free time in new ways. So long as it’s new and fresh and requires your conscious presence, it’s newness.
I try to do at least one different thing every day, even if it’s just something small like eating my food in a different place, changing how I exercise, or taking a new route on my morning walk. When you work from home and spend most of your time indoors, small things like this matter.
We have to be careful, though. What was once new and required our conscious presence becomes familiar after a time and then our brain integrates it into our life as a habit, which, together with other habits, can become yet another action mode. That’s why it’s important to keep searching for newness every day. It’s all around us, at home and in the world. We just have to discover it.
What’s your favorite way to break free from routine?