In the last blog entry we talked about habits and how language shapes our behavior as well as our responses to the behavior of others. Today's discussion focuses on patterns of behavior.
Routines can be important parts of our day as well as health maintenance activities (HMA). Do you take a multivitamin regularly? If you do, chances are that you are most consistent in doing so when you follow an established pattern. And you may make it easier to alert yourself to the HMA by establishing cues.
For example, if you routinely brew a cup of coffee each morning, keeping a bottle of vitamins next to the coffee maker is a sure cue for taking your daily vitamin. Have you had the experience of putting your vitamins in a different location, say, when you ran out and had to buy a new bottle. If, the next morning, you brewed your coffee and there is no vitamin bottle sitting there, you might forget to take one. Cues help to prime the memory pump.
If you put a note pad on the night table by your bed, you will be more apt to jot down creative ideas than if the paper and pen are in a different room. If you use your computer for both creative tasks as well as other activities such as online shopping, reading the daily news headlines, checking sports scores, or listening to music, firing up the computer might provide distractions that keep the creative efforts at bay. The use of cues such as post-it notes, or "to do" lists, can help to maintain focus and creative output.
Pattern interruptions can also help to decrease the likelihood of continuing negative patterns. Take smoking, for example. Although this would take a little effort to set up, the pay off may make it worthwhile. If a person kept cigarettes in one place but a lighter in a far away place (such as a different floor in a house, under the bed, etc.), breaking the chain of having cigarette and lighter together and requiring more effort to engage the habit may decrease the frequency of the behavior.
In many cases, all it takes is one alteration to the routine, plus or minus, to help create a healthy change, whether with HMA's or creative endeavors.