Routines, and my neighbor Tony

My neighbor, Tony, walks every day. I’ve seem him walking somewhere in about a 5-mile radius of my house in December and in July, when it’s raining, at six in the morning, and at 4 in the afternoon. Sometimes he stops to talk, sometimes he strides on ahead, but always, he is there.  He’s just walking.

Routines, or habits, or whatever you want to call them, are powerful. The things we do every day. Things we do without thinking. They shape our lives and how where our time goes and how we feel and what happens to our minds and bodies. And we have a tendancy to think we can’t really change them.

I see a lot of writing about morning routines, in particular. In the health and fitness blog-o-sphere, that seems to be a popular interview question. It makes sense— those first few hours of the day are often lived on auto-pilot, and they can set the tone for what’s to follow. Did scrolling through facebook/reddit/whatever for twenty minutes help you wake up or feel good? Or was it just the path of least resistance? It’s simple to examine this morning time and make deliberate choices about how to do things that serve us. Once we get used to a practice, it just falls into the background and does its magic without our having to work at it.

That same principle— that something is just part of what you do, rather than a choice or a struggle every time— applies to anything we want. Tony doesn’t get up every day and say “hmmm, I guess I should walk. But I want to eat waffles and watch cartoons, so. . . what should I do?” He walks.

I could tell you what my “good” morning routine is, for when I’m really killing it out there, but the point isn’t what I do. It’s what YOU do.

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