Routine as the Key to Happiness

Routines are human nature. Why not create some that will mint gold? – Hafiz

Last Sunday, I wrote about the value of embracing change, rather than resisting it. This may lead you to wonder why on earth I would now tell you that routines are the key to a happy life. No, I’m not contradicting myself. I’m not talking about the kinds of routines that keep us stuck in a rut. I’m talking about positive routines.

When the Dalai Lama was asked “if you only had one word to describe the secret of happiness, and of living a fulfilling and meaningful life, what would that word be,” he replied without hesitating: “routines.”

By definition, a routine  is something that we do regularly, without thinking much about it. Once established, routines become a consistent part of our lives. Positive routines include meditation, exercise, eating regular healthy meals,spending time with family and friends, and doing things we love. Because routines don’t require us to constantly make new decisions, they help us live a more relaxed life. And when we’re more relaxed, there’s more balance in our lives, and more time to focus on the things that really matter.

We all have routines, so why not create positive ones?

Marc Lesser, the author of Less: Accomplishing More by Doing Less, suggests making a list of all the routines you currently have in your day, especially those you perform first thing in the morning. Then go through your list and identify which routines you’d like to drop, as well as some positive routines you’d like to add. Maybe sleeping until the last possible minute, and then rushing to get out of the house and to work on time is not the best way to start your day. Perhaps, building in ten or fifteen minutes of quiet time will create a new routine that will have a positive effect on your day long after the small investment of time.

Some of my favorite routines include taking time to sip my morning coffee and reflect on the day ahead before I turn on the computer to check e-mail, playtime with Allegra and Ruby after breakfast, my daily walks, and reading for at least half an hour each day. One of my routines that I should probably drop is checking e-mail one last time before I go to bed. I think that time would be much better spent playing with Allegra and Ruby.

Cats are creatures of routine – maybe that’s why they’re so happy and content.

What are some of your favorite routines? Are there any routines you’d like to drop?

7 Comments on Sunday Purrs: Routine As The Key to Happiness

  1. My favourite routine is playing with my babies after they have had breakfast. It is just us downstairs, usually I have had my tea and it is some fun time.

  2. I was careful years ago to find my own routines so that I enjoyed activities appropriate for that time of day–high energy early in the morning, very creative afternoon, introspective evening, matching my work and pleasure to those times, which worked so well for both working at home and simply being at home I hardly noticed the routine itself. I have been actively changing routines developed in the past decade of caretaking to get back to those routines or new ones but I haven’t been able to all the way there yet. My kitties just wish I’d sleep regular hours!

    • I think that’s a great way to make the most of positive routines, Bernadette: matching them to your energy patterns. However, I think you need to add sleeping regular hours as a new routine to keep your cats happy!

  3. When thinking in terms of routines, I think that humans can learn much from us. We don’t usually establish destructive routines, but ones that are good for us. Humans sometimes get a little off track in that area… Just saying…

    pawhugs, Max

  4. my favorite routine first thing in the morning is playing my Word Games on Facebook. I am a Word Game junkie and my day doesn’t start right without playing them.

    One routine I am going to be instituting tomorrow is going to the gym at least 3 days a week at 10am. I had been exercising routinely up until the past 3 weeks. I watch Ellen every morning and I plan on using that time watching Ellen to get some exercise in as well!

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