Whether we like it or not, ritualised activities are an important part of our lives, from our morning cup of coffee through to our daily commute and favourite television show. Depending on who you ask, the routine activities which help to define our lives are either an important psychological safety net or an overbearing source of confinement. The truth, like most things in life, is that routine can either be healthy or unhealthy depending on frequency and context.
A routine is a series of habits, a group of things that you do on a regular basis, often without thinking. If you get it right, your routine can be a series of mindful rituals, something that adds structure, value and meaning to your life. If you get it wrong, however, your routine can turn into a series of unconscious addictions, something that restricts your life and allows you to indulge in unhealthy and compulsive actions.
Let's take a look at the pros and cons of routine to see whether you've got the balance right.
The pros of routine
On the plus side, a routine provides structure and discipline, which can lead to feelings of safety and security. The importance of routine for children is often noted, and to be honest, most adults also benefit from doing the same things at the same times each day. They say that practice makes perfect, with a routine simplifying your life and allowing you to become more efficient and effective at everything you do.
With no need to plan and less room for surprises, you're likely to save time, reduce stress, and set up good lifestyle habits that help you meet your goals. When you get it right, sticking to a routine helps you do more things in a shorter amount of time. Rather than needing all of your willpower and determination to do something new and scary, you can let momentum do the work and build confidence through persistence.
The cons of routine
It's not all good news, however, with a routine also capable of restricting your life, stifling your creativity, and causing unwanted boredom. While routine helps us to refine our existing ideas over time, novelty creates new associations that foster growth and human evolution. While a simple and highly structured life can help you become more efficient, it can also lead to robotic responses and a lack of emotional connection with the world around you.
An occasional feeling of surprise is an important part of human happiness, with a lack of novelty soon devolving into a dead system where the same information cycles around and around forever. While routine can be highly beneficial, it's important to be mindful about your activities to avoid rituals from turning into addictions. Without mindfulness, it doesn't take long for your daily routine to feel like a rut. Like most things in life, balance is key, so do something spontaneous when you need to break an unhealthy cycle, or start a new daily ritual when you're feeling lost and confused.
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