The root of routine
We live in a pretty crazy time. We are practically available 24/7. Not only available to our family and social circles, but also to neurological stimuli from media in all shapes and forms (emails, notifications, advertisement, news, etc).
It didn't used to be like that for most of our history. It's actually a very new phenomenon. Just twenty years ago things were completely different. Look back another 100 years and "availability" was basically a word unknown to mankind (just a figure of speech, don't call me out on this one?).
We used to get up with the sun and go to bed when it set. No electricity to keep us working through the night. No canceling agreements, deals or meetings on short notice. If we decided to do something, we more or less had to run with it. Excuses were not an option. We knew exactly what the next day, week, month, year would bring (mostly no change at all). Unless we got unlucky and had a drought or pandemic. Other than that our day to day life didn't offer a whole lot of opportunities to grow or take a break and go on vacation. We were beings of routine.
The challenge (FOMO)
In the last 20 - 30 years technology has outgrown our consciousness. Sure the human being is incredibly well designed to adapt itself to circumstances. But this time we just don't seem to be able to catch up. With technology advancing quicker and quicker we need to find ways to take advantage of it rather than being taken advantage of.
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The abundance of stimuli keeps us on our toes at all times. We are probably the most distractible generation, yet. Every second there is a new breakthrough that we don't want to miss out on. We are the generation FOMO (fear of missing out). Most of us are willing to drop almost anything in order to get another dopamine fix by finding out what's new (convenience products, status updates, cat videos, self-development programs, marketing techniques, social platform, etc). We constantly feel like we are one step behind.
And we are! The truth is, there is no way we could not miss out. Our brains are designed to delete most impulses from our surroundings, so that we can focus on what's important, right now.
But here is the challenge. The advances in psychology have lead to over stimulation of our attention. Everything surrounding us, all these impulses constantly put us in high alert mode. It's how we came up with the idea of multi-tasking (which by the way is a myth and really is nothing but rapid task-switching, which makes anything you do way less efficient).
What can routine do for me?
This is where structure and routine can make a major difference in your stress levels and consequently long term happiness and well-being. You don't have to meticulously plan every minute of your day and week. But if we install little routines (especially in the morning and evening) it can help us to avoid a lot of brain clutter.
Did you know?
"You think 60,000 to 70,000 thoughts in one day... 90% of those are the same as the day before..." - Dr. Joe Dispenza
So you don't have to worry to miss out on important thoughts when taking some time for yourself to calm your mind by meditating or getting into a flow state doing sports, playing music, gardening, painting, writing. If we incorporate one of the above or sth similar into our daily routines, we strengthen our inner peace. We lower our stress levels and will be able to focus on the task at hand when it's important.
The joy of missing out
One thing that I encountered starting out introducing routines into my life was resistance. I did it for one day, felt really good about myself, but the next day I lost all my motivation and distracted myself with some false urgency so I wouldn't feel bad for not sticking to my routine. All of a sudden a week had passed and I completely forgot about my routine.
What I want to demonstrate here is that it is really, really, really easy to fall off the routine waggon and don't look back. Or if you look back it's in pain, judging yourself (which doesn't make the situation any better). I discovered that routines (especially in the beginning) stress me out, rather than the opposite.
"How am I going to fit this in my busy day? When will I find the peace and quiet I need to clear my mind and get into a flow state?"
The worst was, when I started my routine all enthusiastic and then all of a sudden something unforeseen happened and kicked me out of my state of mind. An important appointment I just remembered, a call from a friend in need or my kid asking me to help her with something. It frustrated me. The universe seemed to want to prevent me from calming my mind.
Until I heard about the concept called "The Joy Of Missing Out".
Never miss twice
Routine doesn't have to be rigid. I can sleep in if I stayed up late to finish a project. I can skip my meditation, because my kid needs me, now.
As long as I never miss twice!
This concept took all the stress out of keeping up a routine. I am free to be spontaneous and do whatever I want, as long as I return back to my routine the next day. this can be applied to single bits of my routine or to the whole shabam. I still advice to try and stick to a new routine for as long as you can take it. Because, the benefits often take a while to kick in. And once you know what is to gain from your routine, it won'T be hard to get back to it after slacking for a day =)
In that sense, pace yourself and avoid obsessive behaviour when it comes to changing your routines (you read that right. Not having a routine is also a routine ?). Take baby steps and allow yourself to take a day off and go completely against it. As long as it makes you feel good about yourself, you are on the right path!
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Love & Bass✌️
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