We all have a daily routine. We’ve all felt the need to break out of it.
By allowing ourselves to wear the same path in the carpet or highway, we become rigid, fixed in our ways and comfortably numb. By disrupting our own routine, we dose ourselves with a small, but much-needed shot of adrenaline, enabling our “fight or flight” mode and forcing our problem-solving skills to show up front and center.
Blogger and motivational speaker Glenn Lim suggests keeping a “Disruption Diary,” asking yourself daily, “What is something I can do today for the first time?”
Frank Barrett, author of Yes to the Mess, even says that “being uncomfortable” can spur large-scale innovation and our best creative thinking.
Here are some no-cost, easy ways to integrate some imperceptibly powerful tools into your daily grind. They’re short, they’re quick and there are no excuses for not trying each and every one of them. These eight simple actions will force you to take other perspectives or gently expand your own awareness.
Try any of these daily disruptors for a week and see if you can detect any lasting change in your mood or your behavior.
1. Step Outside
Easy, right? Take a walk or just stand in the sun soaking up the vitamin D. This could be a brisk jaunt around the block, or end up leading to a new adventure downtown. Be unafraid and allow yourself to go where you are led.
2. Change Your Route
Whether you are in the car on the way home from work or on foot and on your way to eat lunch at your regular spot, take a moment to follow your natural-born instinct to hunt. In her book, The Bond, Lynne McTaggart describes how the brain’s dopamine levels increase when you follow your nose, anticipating the experience of something for the very first time. Whether you decide to turn left instead of right, or follow a butterfly down a side street or swing by that newly opened business that you’ve been dying to check out, straying from your well-worn path can be highly rewarding.
3. Set Mindfulness Reminders
Set an alarm or a reminder on your phone for the same time every day (mine is 11:11 a.m.) and take a minute to simply think of something you’re grateful for or to sit in silence and meditate. Check your posture, let your shoulders fall, and do some neck rolls or some office chair yoga. A reminder or alarm every day can provide a disruption to an otherwise monotonous routine. Tip: once the reminder itself becomes a monotonous routine, change the time!
4. Change The Menu
Do you eat at the same place every day or week? When asked where you’d like to meet for lunch, do you find yourself choosing between the same two or three restaurants? Even worse, do you order the same meal each time? Children play it safe in this way, ordering macaroni and cheese or French fries and rarely stretching beyond their comfort zone. Expand your palate. Be an adult and try something new.
5. Skip A Meal
Even better than disrupting the decision about what to eat is disrupting the decision to eat at all. I’ll go ahead and say it. Do you really need another meal? Not only could skipping a meal—we typically eat more food than anyone needs in a day—provide health benefits, this mini-fast can also provide awareness about your attachment to food. Seriously, just skip a meal; it won’t kill you. (People with diabetes or hypoglycemia are obviously exempt from this one.)
6. Feed Your Head
Bring a book with you to work every day. Set an alarm or spontaneously make time to read it. You will be surprised at the dramatic effect that getting lost in a story will have on your day. It’s also pretty much guaranteed that if you leave a book on your desk one of your coworkers will ask you about it. This will then lead to a conversation with another human being about the story, the author, the practice of reading or writing, the smell of old books, et. al. And any conversation with another human being is a perfect disruption.
Have fun! Freeze! You didn’t say “Simon Says!” Do you have one of those squishy stress balls at your desk? Try throwing it up in the air and playing catch with yourself. Making time for play could mean stopping in the middle of a big project and singing a short song or putting on your headphones, closing the door and dancing around the room. This could mean playing a quick video game on your phone or bringing a toy with you to work like a small set of Legos—rebuilding something new at the top of every hour. Bonus points for scoring a travel version of a popular board game and challenging a coworker to a round.
8. Random Acts of Kindness
It doesn’t have to be #RAKWeek for you to express Random Acts of Kindness whenever and wherever you go. Try smiling at someone in passing, giving someone a hug or telling someone special that you love him or her. You could also cook dinner for your loved one or family, or surprise them with flowers. You could send a letter or e-mail to someone who has had a positive influence on your life and thank that person. You could give money or donate items to a cause or organization that you believe in. The acts of kindness you are capable of are endless.
What did I miss? What are some disruptions that work for you?
Joran Slane Oppelt is a blogger, musician, interfaith minister, marketer, chaplain, public speaker, father, event producer, husband and facilitator—not necessarily in that order. Joran is the founder of the Integral Church in St. Petersburg, FL, and has spoken at many colleges and conferences such as South by Southwest in Austin, TX. Integral Church is an interfaith community that encourages individuals to create their own personal transformative practice, using the tools and teachings from the world’s major wisdom traditions in a pluralistic and sacred environment. For more information, follow @joranslane on Twitter or visit integralchurch.org, where you can find articles, plus more information on cleanses, meditations and other tools for transformation.