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Routines – Ho-Hum or Hardwired?

We all have our routines. Take your weekday morning routine, for example. Get up at the same time, do the same morning chores, drink the same thing, eat the same thing, maybe take a walk or exercise, and so on. Our routines are, well, routine. In fact, we often use the word to describe something that is repetitive and dull.

But there's an upside to routines. We like them. We are comfortable and happy about our routines because we know exactly how to act and what to expect. Our morning routines aren't taxing or hard -- even if we exercise hard -- so they allow us to ease into what's coming for the rest of the day, a day that might be full of surprises or challenges, a day that could be hard. We can't be sure. So, there's a welcome-ness to not having to think too hard about what to do next each time you wake up.

That's why it's hard when our routine is disrupted, whether by external forces or internal ones. It forces us to have to think. The external forces (sick kids, school closings, running out of milk, etc.) are likely temporary and we can soon return to our practiced ways. But when we decide to intentionally make a change, then we have to rethink our whole morning routine. It's easier said than done.

I've been trying to add 15 minutes of quiet, sitting meditation to my mornings and I'm finding it's not simple. I could get up 15 minutes earlier, I suppose. I can cut down on reading the news online for some time, and maybe change my breakfast from something I cook to something prepared the night before. There are ways to find 15 minutes and I've succeeded five out of seven times so far. I'm sure I can do it, but I'm not sure -- yet -- that I can make it routine. I'll keep on working on it.

In the meanwhile, I invite you to examine your morning routine this week. Reflect on its purpose and how well it serves you. See how it sets up your whole day, and perhaps consider ways to make it more purposeful for you. And you might even find yourself grateful for something that may have seemed, up to this point, mundane, unimportant or even routine.


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