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I hurt my right foot a couple of weeks ago, then just as it was beginning to feel a little better – I reinjured it. (When I wax brilliant, I wax all kinds of brilliant.) I got an ankle brace yesterday to keep it in place, because it only feels okay if it’s “set” in a certain position – if it deviates in any way, ouch!
Last night, I was thinking about how certain people get “set” into certain routines. They always eat chicken at Applebee’s, they always go to Daytona Beach on vacation, they always take the same route to work… Don’t get me wrong, Applebee’s chicken is sinfully good, and I’d love —–make that LOVE—– to be on Daytona Beach right now, ankle brace and all. But if variety is the spice of life, people who get stuck in routines are living an unseasoned life and they don’t even know it.
When it comes to mental fitness, variety is more than just a spice, it’s an essential ingredient. It’s like the buttermilk in Buttermilk biscuits or the pumpkin in Pumpkin pie. Experts even suggest purposely mixing up your routine to keep our minds sharp. They say we should take different routes than we’re accustomed to, read authors that are completely new to us, read sections of the paper we don’t normally read, and so on. Even small things like taking a different walking route in the grocery store are beneficial. Other suggestions: Use a different hand to eat with than you normally do, take a picnic to your nearest lake – even if it’s so cold your picnic has to take place in the car (as you can tell from the picture above, the view’s so much better than the inside of a restaurant), watch a movie from a genre you don’t normally watch, watch a different network’s news at least once a week, grab a book on a subject you know nothing about, shop in a store you’ve never been in, etc.
Think of it this way: You know when you’re trying to lose weight, you cut calories, increase your activity, walk more, and smile as your pants get looser……. Then, wham, you hit a plateau – or as a reader of this blog recently referred to it, a brick wall – all of your efforts seem suddenly to be for naught. Your body seems to have forgotten how to lose weight, even though you’re doing what you’d been doing all along. To keep your metabolism humming along, you have to kick it up a notch – vary your routine a little bit. By, let’s say, playing tennis for a month or two, instead of going to the gym – your metabolism gets all excited again and kicks into high gear. It loves the variety…..loves the fact that you’re keeping your relationship fresh and exciting! You’ve gotten it’s attention again and it’ll start rewarding you again.
It’s the same thing with our minds. They get far too comfortable when we get far too comfortable. They absolutely need variety and crave the unexpected.
Have you ever been in the middle of a mini crisis and felt kind of invigorated in spite of yourself? It’s because your mind appreciates the buzz and pretty much gets off on the drama. Earlier this year, we switched servers for our over 30 websites and blogs – it was hell week in our home office. Notebooks strewn, computers constantly on, faces stern and determined – with an underlying state of shock. But, in the middle of it – I just kept thinking, “I feel so alive!” And my mind felt like a pencil must surely feel after being grinded in a pencil sharpener. Sharper for having been there.
So, if you ever find yourself becomming one of those “Sore Ankle” people – the kind who think they have to be “set” a certain way because it’ll hurt to move – snap yourself out of the rut fast! Your mental health depends on it.
Besides, if you have lots of variety in your life and if you learn to think on your feet – you’ll be ready when the unexpected happens. People who live inside of a set routine get knocked out much faster when life throws the punches it loves to unleash. On the other hand, the survivors are the one who what? —- learn to roll with the punches.
Make each varied routine count!
p.s. If you click the t-nail above, you can see the picture larger – it’s Kentucky showing off and I love it when it does just that.