Breaking Habits

Writing my column last month about dropping alcohol really got me thinking about habits. We all get into routines which become comforts. In some parts of my life, I like to disrupt comforts for creativity, invigoration, or stimulation. In other areas, routine makes things easier and I relish the familiarity.

There is definitely something comforting about knowing a probable result. And that is valuable. But maybe relying too much on habitual practices can make us bored, stagnant, and unable to share what makes us special with others.

When we are forced off our rails, we always get back on them or build new ones or find someone else’s to hop on for a while. On a movie I was working on in Pennsylvania, our chef had been training to be a Navy Seal when an injury derailed his plans. He struggled through depression, loss, and confusion until he started cooking.

He said he was so glad it all happened because he loves being a chef more than he could have imagined. He never would have chased that path if not for his unplanned shift in life which plopped him right into M. Night Shyamalan’s private kitchen.

Maybe we all need to force break our own habits sometimes to see what new roads appear. After the alcohol change I dropped coffee, too (it had been causing a few negative things in my body but that’s another column). It felt like a morning habit void but only briefly. Whenever I feel a reluctance to hit yoga, I swap schedules or studios and the fire is relit (namaste). If I’m bored creatively, I try, make, or investigate something new.

Just a thought for your fall. If you aren’t feeling fulfilled or stimulated or purposeful — it’s up to you to make a change. Switch up one, or many, of your routines and see what happens.

Have you ever heard the William Shatner (yes, that Shatner) song, “You’ll Have Time?” He actually worked on this one with Ben Folds. It’s a somewhat comic take on the sentiment that we should all live our lives as fully as we can because, at the end, “You’ll have time to think … Why did I waste it? Why didn’t I taste it?!”

Stephanie is a habitual habit-breaker. Her current “habit breaking encouraged” projects include her consulting company Lovage Inc., her band Pool Lights, and her food community Real Fine Food.

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