By Katherine Olivetti
Humans are habitual creatures organized by the familiar. It’s amazing how many things we do with out thinking. I hit the first step on the stairs with my right foot. I brush my teeth top left down. I button my shirts bottom up. I stir my coffee right handed and clockwise. Do these small things matter? You bet they do. I do everything “the right way.”
Clasp your hands in the way that is most familiar to you. Then shift the fingers. What do you feel? Most likely you will experience this slight shift as feeling “wrong.”
The point is that our brains get wired to register the familiar as “right” and the unfamiliar as “wrong.” Real growth can occur when we make room for new experiences and loosen the hold that the familiar has on us.
If you are interested in opening your life to new possibilities you can loosen the hold that the familiar has on you. In daily, simple tasks, you can opt for doing things in an unfamiliar way. Here are some suggestions:
• Do any routine task with your non-dominant hand.
• Reverse processes, like buttoning and unbuttoning a shirt, putting on socks, saying grace after the meal.
• Take a new route when driving to a familiar destination.
• Eat a food you never ate before.
• Change your usual seat at dinner.
• Go to an unfamiliar neighborhood and take a walk.
• Do something you’ve never done before—iron a dish towel, saw a piece of wood, sew on a button, plant a flower, dance by yourself in the kitchen before dinner, pay for the person standing behind you in Starbucks
The possibilities are endless. Keep thinking of the small in-your-life things you can do differently and give them a try. The loosening of the familiar makes space for new experience and learning.
You will recognize these lines:
I shall be telling this with a sigh
Somewhere ages and ages hence:
Two roads diverged in a wood, and I—
I took the one less traveled by,
And that has made all the difference.
“The Road Not Taken”