I am a restless sleeper, I toss and turn, mess up the sheets and the blankets and often leave my husband out in the cold. Meanwhile, he likes wrapping himself in the blanket so tightly that the tides are often turned and I end up in the middle of the night awake and unable to wrest free even a corner of the blanket. Then, we went to Europe. In such a civilized manner, we got into bed, each put a twin sized comforter, covered in a brightly colored cotton duvet, over us and then slept. In the morning, I lightly tossed the comforter over the bed and, Voila! The bed was made. I came home determined. I bought new lightweight comforters, ordered beautiful duvet covers and declared a success. And, as an added bonus, getting the duvet cover on the comforter, was funny enough to be worthy of a YouTube video, especially when you throw a 12 pound poodle into the mix.
This experience made me wonder. Are there other things in my life that I do one way that I would enjoy so much more another way? I read a study recently that discussed the value to our brains of changing our routines. Driving a different way to work, going in reverse order in the grocery store, even brushing teeth with the opposite hand can enhance creativity, increase brain function and possibly even stave off Alzheimer’s. I can’t help but think how cool it would be if it also turned out that this different way is a better way for us.
I’m not talking about eliminating the “should’s” (though I support that) or even about “No is a complete sentence” (though I sometimes support that). I am talking about the “rules” or assumptions that are so deeply ingrained that we don’t even know they are there. I am also not suggesting that everything needs to change, there’s a reason we brush our teeth, wash our hands, get dressed, wear shoes, etc. But, what if we, occasionally, evaluated those choices and changed the ones that didn’t serve us. Just last week, I discovered that in spite of what Mollie Katzen, my vegetarian cook book hero says, I can slice a spaghetti squash around the middle instead of the long way.
On a more serious note, I have been contemplating recently how to challenge some of these deeply held beliefs without turning my life into a complete tizzy. Here’s what I’ve come up with so far:
– Try opposites. If inclined to say no to something, maybe say yes. Or if inclined to take a left turn, perhaps consider a right turn.
– Consider personal comfort (and general self care). So many habits and patterns serve no purpose other than basic care, feeding and grooming. Exploring new choices might lead to eating healthier for your body, better sleep, and even better skin.
– Shake things up. Drive to work a different way, place a different order at the coffee shop, sign something with your opposite hand.
– Ask questions of yourself and others. When listening to someone speak, ask why they think that and then really listen, deeply, to the answer.
Most of all, be mindful and pay attention, we only get (that we know of) one chance to go through the beautiful fabric of any given day, week, year or lifetime, let’s dance our way through to all sorts of different drummers so we can fully appreciate the wonder.
Originally published at medium.com