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Breaking Routines and Cultivating Spontaneous Joy

02 May

Breaking Routines and Cultivating Spontaneous Joy

Posted By: 
Kimberly White


Last week on the blog we talked about the benefits of building schedules and creating routines. Healthy habits and routines help us to work efficiently, to learn material quickly and to produce great results in our daily lives. If routines are practiced too regularly however, we are at risk of becoming robots, sacrificing spontaneous joys for an imagined need to stick to the plan.

Having a routine or set of habits gives you a structure to break when it makes sense. There has to be a balance here— if you always break your routine, then it’s not a routine — but sometimes breaking your routine is exactly what you need. Breaking routine helps us to live more imaginatively, to discover new ways of being creative, and to get a bit of motivation that fuels the tasks of our daily lives.

Frank Barrett, in his book “Yes to the Mess” says, "Great leaders are able to help people dislodge their routines so they pay attention. They show up with a receptivity . . . so they can respond in creative ways on the spot.”

Here are 4 reasons why you, the disciplined and hard working online school student, could benefit from breaking a few habits now and then.

Newness encourages creativity and exercises the brain.

Whenever you make a change in your routine, you encourage neuroplasticity, which is when your brain makes new connections, basically reorganizing itself to adjust to a new environment or situation. When we consistently stick to the same routines, some brain functions run on autopilot, but by changing our habits, we can force the brain to pay attention and exercise itself. Simply switching up your environment or changing your workflow exercises your brain, generating positive and lasting changes. According to the work of neuroscientist Gregory Berns, when you experience anything new, you force the mind out of its tendency to rely on categories and take shortcuts. “Only when you consciously confront your brain's reliance on categories will you be able to imagine outside of its boundaries,” he says.

Breaking routine helps you to identify new ways to accomplish the same things

Yes, routines do help us work efficiently, but when we become so focused on the routine itself, we become less observant of all of the little variants occurring around us. Intentionally setting aside our routines for a time can help us identify new things about ourselves and our situations. For example, perhaps you always spent time reading before you went to bed, but decided to break routine and read first thing in the morning, only to find that you are actually more productive and attentive during that time.

Newness gives you a kickstart and a fresh perspective

Getting outside of your comfort zone and doing something new encourages creativity and imagination. Breaking up your daily routine will enable you to see things you normally wouldn’t which only adds to your pool of experiences, thus giving you more to draw from when seeking inspiration and motivation. Many writers, artists and even scientists often attest to needing to work in different environments all of time, because the elements of their surroundings are what fuels their imagination and hard work.

Spontaneity creates great stories

Planning to break routine is great. Spontaneously doing so is even better sometimes. Great stories do not normally come from our routines but from when we get outside of our comfort zones and do something new. We’d think it was a great story if someone were to tell us that they were busily working hard at their computer only to look out of the window to see that it was raining and immediately decided to set aside their work and go dance in the rain in their normal clothes. Spontaneity means that we sometimes make creative, instantaneous decisions to break routine and live a good story. Spontaneous moments of fun are what fuel our desires to work hard and perform the necessary, sometimes mundane, tasks of life.

What are some of the ways that spontaneity and breaking routines has brought joy to your life? Is there a routine or habit you live off of that you might need to break for a time?