This past weekend my 12 year-old son was out of town and my husband and I enjoyed an extended 48-hour date. We tried a new breakfast spot, drove to the other side of town to clothes shop (a big deal in a city that where traffic has gotten insane), enjoyed late afternoon naps and celebrated the August Supermoon by attending a full-moon yoga class on top of a mountain and a visit to our revered Barton Springs to howl at the moon, a monthly tradition at this natural jewel. Instead of our typical date–often dinner out followed by browsing at the bookstore–we took the opportunity to do it different.
Do it different: meaning shaking life up, looking at it sideways and upside down, changing your routine and habits, challenging how you’ve set up your life and trying on new perspectives or ways of being.
Whether it’s small (driving a new route to or from work or school or changing what you eat for breakfast) or big (walking after dinner each night with your partner or kids instead of watching TV, or taking up the guitar in lieu of smoking)–”doing it different” makes us feel more vibrant, alive, appreciative of our bodies and more grateful for the gift of life.
There’s a lot of research out on how our brains benefit when we “do it different.” We actually create new neural pathways and enhance brain performance and memory when we mix it up (ever wonder why your 69-year old friend who is always signing up for new cooking classes, taking up qi gong and learning how to salsa is sharp as a tack?!).
Much of our daily routine is rote. We’ve fallen into habitual, unconscious ways of doing, being and seeing (from what we eat, read, watch, say, and listen to– to how we respond to family, co-workers and others we meet throughout the course of our day). Author and neuroscientist Joe Dispenza says we have about 60-70,000 thoughts a day and 90% of today’s thoughts are the same ones we had yesterday!
I love The Power of Habit: Why We Do What We Do in Life and In Business right by Charles Duhigg (highly recommended). Charles says we basically move through our days—like rats in a maze– in an endless cycle of “cue-routine-reward.” Most of the time, we aren’t making conscious choices or doing things because they work, they’re the best for us or because they bring us joy–we do the same things over and over because they’re familiar.
I offer an ongoing work/life balance telecourse where I challenge men and women by asking, “If we dropped our old ways of thinking and seeing and released habitual ways of being, what would a higher, more evolved version of who we are– look like?” (I’m not saying we’re self-improvement projects or trying to fix ourselves—but am encouraging us to cultivate curiosity for what it would feel like to come into the highest expression of who we are.)
In Breaking Free and Making Hard Choices, Chapter nine from my book Nurturing the Soul of Your Family, I share, “In essence, habits are nothing more than a choice we make over and over again until the new behavior becomes automatic. “ But as author Robert Puller said, “Good habits, once established, are just as hard to break as are bad habits.” We have to be willing to wake up from “Groundhog Day,” –and question why we’re doing what we’re doing. Every single day.
I’m looking forward to “doing it different,” throughout this fall and seeing where I can keep challenging myself to step out of my ruts and start embracing more freedom and joy. I’d love for you to join me.
SUGGESTED RESOURCES: Seeking support this fall for doing it different? Consider registering for my new telecourse Permission Granted: The Art of Extreme Self-Care (Sept. 11-Oct. 9) and I’ll support you in naming/claiming a life that nourishes you on all levels. Early bird rate of $129 ends Aug. 22. Or, become a trained RTA-Certified Facilitator utilizing my award-winning curriculum and gather a community of women and embrace a new way of being!
Subscribe here to Live Inside Out, a weekly blog written by life balance teacher/author and Career Strategists president, Renée Peterson Trudeau. Her work has appeared in The New York Times, Good Housekeeping and more. Thousands of women in ten countries are becoming RTA-Certified Facilitators and leading/joining self-care groups based on her award-winning curriculum. She is the author of The Mother’s Guide to Self-Renewal and Nurturing the Soul of Your Family: 10 Ways to Reconnect and Find Peace in Everyday Life. She lives in Austin, Texas, with her husband and 12 year-old son. More on her background here.