Breaking our patterns takes a conscious effort

I’m a creature of habit. You probably are too. We tend to set up our worlds so that we have things we can depend on…a few basic breakfast, lunch and dinner plans; a regular schedule that starts with an alarm at the same time every day; a fixed menu of recreational activities; and a pretty set cast of characters in our lives.

Sure, there’s some variation, but it usually happens more by accident than by design. Nothing is necessarily wrong with trying to build that kind of predictability into our lives. Or is there? Is it possible that our constant grasping for security and comfort makes us even less secure and less comfortable as we push away anything that doesn’t fit our vision of what our day should look like and try to hang onto anything that makes us feel better?

I don’t know…just a question…but I’m pretty sure that life is more interesting when we turn off the autopilot and take the controls back. Let’s say I walk my dog around a lake in a clockwise direction every day and then one day I go off autopilot and I have a thought: Today, I’m going to walk Fluffy around the lake in a counter-clockwise direction. And suddenly, a small change creates a large change in perspective—the buildings look different from this angle and the traffic sounds louder…I’ve never noticed that bench before and isn’t that a pretty flower hiding behind that bush.

This may be a silly example (but it’s the one that came mind), but if we extrapolate that to our lives, we can see that we fall into these patterns, or habits, that we no longer are even conscious about. We can spend our entire day, basically on autopilot. Or we could spend our whole day being completely there for every moment.

Lynn U. Nichols’s feature about exploring new horizons beyond your comfort zone gets right at how you can shake up your world…in a good way that is healthy for you and your kids. In fact, she says that new neural pathways spring up where there weren’t any before. She even talks about the benefits of unstructured play.

And as far as trying new things, this issue is chock full of ideas. Katie Harris describes the Fort Collins Museum of Discovery…talk about new ideas and a new place to check out. For another suggestion of something new, Kim Sharpe tells us how knitting and crocheting can help us relax and spend time with our family.

And our extensive calendar can give you lots of ideas. Also, check our special sections: Bounty Farm and Food Guide and After the Bell. You can find something new and different in each of them.

So with a little vision and some tools, in the form of ideas from our pages, maybe commit to trying one new thing this month that you hadn’t even thought of before. I think you’ll find it refreshing.