“Routines root us . . . routine frees [our] mind.” —Jay Shetty, Think Like A Monk
The beautiful gift we receive from incorporating constructive routines into our lives is the paradox that creates the magic that may to some seem impossible to experience in reality.
The paradox of routines in our daily lives:
—When we create and adhere to routines which establish a solid foundation for living well, we nurture the opportunity to see and seize amazing, magical ideas, potential and connections that would have otherwise gone dismissed or ignored because we were simply trying to ‘get-through’ whatever the day presented and would not have the spatial awareness, perspective or energy to capture the gifts presented. Certainty fosters the unexpected—
The past week, as I shared in episode #321 of the podcast, a resetting of daily and weekly routines began in my life, an opportunity to settle into a rhythm of the life I have been investing in over the past two years with the work on my home, customizing to my lifestyle, as well as shifting wholly into one career focus. Many listeners shared, they too were looking for ideas for how to ‘reset’ well into a daily and weekly rhythm they savored. It is important to note, and something that was pointed out during the episode, that resetting is not a return to what previously was, but rather a conscious deciding about what will remain that worked and what will be forever left behind and what will be added to enhance.
So, following my determination to reset, I reflected on routines I missed and that had been put on hold temporarily. I read past journals and assessed what enhanced the ability for me to hold myself in the present, remain open to creative sparks and feel grounded and mindful as everyday life unfolded. I also reread Jay Shetty’s book Think Like A Monk which reinforced the grounding importance of daily routines to foster the life of possibility that in this particular moment we cannot fully crystalize as to what tomorrow or the future will be, but can only hope will eventually occur.
Shetty explains that when we add beneficial, thus constructive (but not encumbering or too rigid) structure to our lives, we actually open ourselves up for more novelty. “It is precisely doing the familiar that creates room for discovery”. He goes on to site the late Kobe Bryant’s insight into the importance of routine, “A lot of the time, creativity comes from structure. When you have those parameters and structure, then within that you can be creative. If you don’t have structure, you’re just aimlessly doing stuff.” By easing our “cognitive burden”, Shetty further teaches, “we have bandwidth for creativity. Structure enhances spontaneity.” And therein lies the paradox. A beautiful one to strive to welcome into our lives, and when we do so, we are trusting the unknown. We are letting go.
So many of the life skills we have talked about in prior posts and episodes come together to trust this powerful truth – Routines open our lives up to experiencing in real, everyday life, the dream we currently may only think as just that, a dream.
As I settled into my week, I found myself writing out my thoughts often, asking myself, ‘What do I know is true?” frequently and just as frequently, taking action to do the tasks and activities I missed during this temporary time of transition, fully immersing myself in each – seemingly pleasurable tasks such as taking a hot bubble bath, and just as enjoyably diving into seemingly mundane tasks – editing my linen closet and cleaning my office and organizing business files.
The clarity gained by creating, reordering and clearing out my home revealed to me that I had gained a wisdom of how I wanted to live and was more resolutely focused on what would stay and go, so that I could forge ahead into the life I have been consciously trying to build for years. Now you may be wondering, What does the clearing out and reordering have to do with routines? Quite a bit. Let me explain.
When we become clear about the life we want to live, knowing where we want to go, we also become clear about what needs to stay to support our travel and what no longer serves our journey. We can then, as Marie Kondo writes, express gratitude, but then let go without holding on or grieving its absence.
Routines, which ones we need to add, tweak or let go work the same way. When we have clarity, we are better able to ascertain which routines support our travels and which no longer serve a necessary or helpful purpose.
Routines to tend to:
- How you nourish yourself literally (your eating regimen): I have shared before that my daily breakfast has remained the same for about 15 years now. Why? It nourishes me with energy, satiation and flavor so that I can dive into my day for a good 4-6 hours before needing a snack and still have a mind and body that is alert and thinking well.
- Health: physical and mental
- Financial: bill payment and investing, shopping – necessities for life and business
- Social engagement: How often and in quality engagement you spend with people you care about and activities that engage you for pleasure and passion without monetary incentives.
- Self-Care: What activities, nourishment, personal attention do you need regularly that enhances how you bring your best self to the world? (check out multiple posts/episodes on the topic of self-care and its importance, as well as many ideas)
- Home life: from how you feel most at peace in your sanctuary, what are routines (cleaning, decorating, entertaining, etc.) that create the feeling of home?
Examples of how Routine opens our lives up to new ‘aha’s:
- Savoring your weekly Sunday morning newspaper reading ritual, reading your favorite sections, fully engrossed, you stumble across a new recipe from a country not typically in your wheel-house or cooking repertoire, but the description delights your tastebuds and you decide to give a try. Before you know it, you are fully engaged in something new in your kitchen and if the recipe becomes something you and your household love, even better!
- Attending a local theatre production as you enjoy doing, you go by yourself as you feel comfortable in the location. You sit by a stranger, yet someone who you begin an organic conversation with and they talk about how they enjoy spending time in the town you both call home. You see your town through a new perspective and you become more appreciative, but also curious to try to explore and do something new.
- You stop into your local grocery store as you do on a particular morning of the week to pick up a favorite item. You know where items are located, so you don’t think twice about your route, but you end up engaging in conversation with the staff or a fellow shopper unexpectedly and you are open and present and fully engaged. What is shared elevates an everyday moment and helps you to gain confidence in being fully yourself without expectation, listening attentively and sharing a bit of your world as well. Who knows what you may learn, hear or discover.
- Your nightly reading ritual, cozied into your favorite chair is a moment you never miss when you find yourself at home, but the books change, the voice of each writer is different, and you learn and deepen understanding on a wide variety of topics and interests as you are fully engrossed in what you are reading.
- Your daily skincare regimen nourishes your skin, helping you look and feel your best. Not only do you hold yourself in the present moment when you engage in this daily ritual, but you feel confident and thus grounded in your daily routine as you engage with the world, open to whatever may cross your path, and thus not self-conscious and consumed in your own head which would prevent you from being in the present moment.
- With your monthly bills tended to on a regular schedule, you know that your financial house is in order and can focus fully on whatever your tasks are in your professional and personal life, savoring what life brings, what connections deepen and begin and what opportunities through your focus at work will be presented.
- With a clean and rejuvenating home, you can relax when you walk in the door, being fully present with the tasks and activities you enjoy partaking in, the time you spend with loved ones and not being held in a stressful state that would result when your home is discombobulated with disorganization.
- Daily walks in nature hold you in the present moment with only the music of the breeze, the birdsong and your breath. Your mind relaxes, opens and ideas present themselves.
- Tending to your good health opens up your ability to fully engage with opportunities when presented, to say yes, to have confidence you can fully engage and do so without worrying about any physical limitations.
- Tending to routines, eliminates procrastination and provides the opportunity and space in your days to say yes to unexpected, attention grabbing, anything-your-intuition-is-drawn-to engagements.
The quote at the top of today’s post reminds me of a common refrain one of my yoga instructors regularly recites – Root to rise. When we root ourselves in routine, healthy, growth-inspired routine, just as a tree when planted in its preferred soil, nourished by the right amount of moisture and given warmth from the sun, we too rise to heights previously unimaginable as well as blossoming and branching out beautifully as we embrace our true self and gifts we uniquely can share with the world. But if we are not rooted, we can easily be uprooted and used, moved, manipulated and mistreated as we don’t have the clarity of where and how we wish to live.
Being rooted does not mean we are inflexible. It is quite the opposite. When we are rooted, we know. We have clarity, and we understand where boundaries must be set to fulfill our needs and where we can waver, where we can give, as those latter areas pertain to our wants. When we nurture ourselves properly, it comes from self-knowledge, a place that takes time at which to arrive, but when we arrive at this most awesome destination, where and with whom we can travel exceeds any previous limited ideas, and our lives are changed forever for the better.
What I have found when I reëstablish constructive routines is that I create more ‘white space‘ in my days. When I have more ‘space’ for my mind to wander, old ideas I had forgotten about but never wanted to forget, return to the forefront of my mind. I now have the bandwidth to capture them and do something with them. When I have my life-lifting routines in place, I have time to fully be with those I care about, engage entirely with my attention on tasks and projects that I am passionate about and continually am refueled with new ideas and creative bursts which make tomorrow, next week, next year an exciting destination to travel towards, but all the while I have created a daily life I deeply love living.
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