Habits are often broadly labeled as either good or bad, with little specificity. For example, people seldom refer to particular customs as obstructionistic or limiting. I propose, however, that some habits do indeed get in the way of growth and learning every single day.
I have heard that habits are literally grooves in the brain. Every time you repeat a task, gesture, or activity, that particular groove gets a little bit deeper, a little more ingrained. I have also read that if you want to start a habit, such as an exercise routine, you should draw a line with your finger on your head while doing that activity, as if you were helping to push that groove deeper.
These concepts fascinate me on so many levels, because I would also classify daily routines and mannerisms as habitual—things so deeply-rooted they become second nature. Think of your favorite actor. Often times you recognize that person on screen, even if they are disguised in elaborate costumes, because of their particular mannerisms that they can not escape even when they actually become another character.
Or how about some of the routines that you follow every day? One reason we establish daily procedures is to create our own little comfort zones; if we do the same thing at the same time, in the same way, every day there is little chance for surprise or discomfort. To put it quite plainly, we humans fear change. We don't even like creating a space in our routine where change could possibly happen.
Now I would like to introduce a conundrum that often escapes our notice as we dig ourselves deeper into the layers of our cozy routines: If we are at all curious about the world around us, if we want to experience learning opportunities, and if we want to grow, we can not avoid change. Learning, growing, and, yes, living can all be described as some form of change.
I invite you to examine—and scrutinize—your daily rituals to determine which of these are no longer useful. You may, in fact, discover that some of these rituals have actually become ruts, limiting your creativity and natural wonder. This exercise opens space within your life, so you can welcome the possibilities for positive change. By exploring the new, you are only increasing the number of potential options you have to choose from.
Be brave, step out from behind that protective screen of dull outgrown routine and embrace all of the uncertainty, surprises, and opportunities heading your way --- right now.