This morning I made migas with mushrooms for breakfast. Then I dropped off my son to volunteer at our friends wonderful farm camp (where I was greeted by roosters and got to pet a gentle horse and a goat) and I attended a morning yoga class. Driving to my office to begin my workday, I was almost delirious with joy over this change in my normal morning schedule. The sunflowers seemed to shimmer, my iced hibiscus iced tea tasted more delicious and everyone around me seemed more interesting (dramatic sounding, but true). What happened?! I woke up my brain by choosing to do it different.
Do it different: meaning shaking up your life, looking at it sideways and upside down, shifting your normal 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 available 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 life 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 summer and seeing where I can keep challenging myself to step out of my ruts and start embracing more freedom and joy. Wanna join me?
TAKE ACTION: In transition and asking, “What’s next?” Join like-minded women in a supportive, nurturing and empowering environment! July 10-12 I’ll be in the cool Berkshire Mountains of MA at my favorite retreat center (the largest in North America): Kripalu Center for Yoga & Health for New Way of Being: Women’s Self-Renewal Retreat. Only a few spots left-register today! P.S. Live in Austin and seeking a one-day renewal retreat? We just had two spots open up for my Embracing the Wild Unknown: Self-Renewal in the Second Half of Life gathering on June 19th. Learn more.
Subscribe here to Live Inside Out, a weekly blog written by mindfulness speaker/author and Career Strategists president, Renée Peterson Trudeau. Offering custom self-renewal workshops/retreats, training, books/telecourses and individual career coaching her work has appeared in The New York Times, Good Housekeeping, Spirituality & Health and more. Thousands of women in ten countries are becoming RTA-Certified Facilitators and leading/joining Personal Renewal 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 13 year-old son. More on her background here.