Can you remember the last time you enjoyed a meal out with friends that hadn’t been marked on your calendar weeks, or even months, in advance? Or recall a day when you ignored your to-do list and acted on the spur of the moment, simply because the sun was shining brightly and spending a couple of hours in the park with a book seemed a much better idea than being stuck indoors doing washing?
Being creatures of habit, many people live their lives on autopilot. It’s Monday evening so that means a trip to the supermarket, Tuesday is washing the kitchen floor, every Wednesday morning involves a swim, and so the week continues.
But while lists, diary entries and regular commitments maintain focus – of course, food needs to be bought and children must be picked up from school – altering your routine, even now and again, can be empowering. Do it spontaneously, without great thought or planning, and a break from the norm will add excitement and richness to what was originally destined to be a ‘same old, same old’ day.
SEVEN STEPS TO SPONTANEITY
1 On your daily train journey to work, do you always sit on the same seat downstairs on the left? Look at the same view out of the window? Possibly share your carriage with the same fellow commuter? Next time, go upstairs, plonk yourself on whatever free space there is and see the world from a different angle. You might be pleasantly surprised.
2 Does lunch usually involve a quick sandwich at your desk or at the same cafe? If the weather allows, eat outside for a change. Don’t plan a route, though. Just walk 10 minutes in one direction and see where you end up.
3 Chatting to an old friend on the phone and about to end the conversation with a ‘see you soon’? Stop before you say those words and instead make a date to catch up in person, and as soon as possible. You don’t need to plan anything special. Just reconnecting will be rewarding.
4 Always claiming you have no time to read that classic novel lying on your bookshelf? You’ll never find out if that character finds redemption, or goes to wrack and ruin, until you turn that first page. Move it to your bedside today.
5 Ever feel you’re not exploring the world outside your own doorstep even though you’re out every afternoon with the dog and kids? Swap the familiar swing park for somewhere new. Simply jump on the bus and allow your child to choose when to press the stop button. You’ll embark on an adventure.
6 Worried your healthy regime will go to the wayside if you agree to join friends for a drink after work? Chat and laughter are good for your wellbeing too – and, thankfully, there are more alcohol-free beverages on offer than ever before.
7 Often pass an enchanting Italian restaurant, never brave enough to sample the delicacies served inside? Next time there’s an occasion to celebrate, or even if there’s not, indulge your taste buds. But don’t order your usual lasagne. Study the menu, ask about house specials – you may discover fresh culinary delights.
No script is required, no rehearsal necessary – for a fresh new perspective on life, just take a break from the norm.
This article was originally published in Issue 9 – Live for the Moment