PUMPING IRONY: The Beauty of the Routine

I’m beginning to understand the value of sticking to a daily routine.

I played basketball, as usual, Monday night, which means a couple or so beers afterwards at a local watering hole, which means getting home around 11, showering, having a little snack, winding down, and climbing into bed sometime shortly after midnight. Which means I’m not fully rested when our two cats begin lobbying for breakfast around 7 a.m., which means I fall back into bed after feeding them, which means I don’t roll out until well after 8, which means there’s really no time for zazen or kettlebells if I want to have breakfast before I begin my trek through the snow to the office. Which means I spend the entire day just slightly off-kilter.

We don’t tend to think of routine as having much value in our lives, but as I get older I’ve found it to be pretty dang important to my general well-being. And I’m not alone. Someone once asked the Dalai Lama to describe the secret of happiness in one word and, without hesitation, he said “routines.” That doesn’t mean that every moment of your day should be scripted and repeated endlessly; it has more to do with observing certain rhythms in your day that allow you to accomplish certain things without having to think about them that much.

When I’m in a good rhythm, my morning ritual happens so naturally that I never have to argue with myself about whether I’m in the mood to meditate or exercise. Once I unfold my mat and take a few deep breaths, everything else takes care of itself. Before I know it, I’m headed out the door to the office, amazed by how good I feel.

In fact, I’d say that it’s the ability to adhere to a few healthy routines that gives us the energy and vitality we need to accept new challenges. We need that foundation, I think, to test our limits.

So I’m not going to give up my weekly hoops adventure (or the beer, for that matter), but it might be smart to give myself a curfew.

, an Experience Life deputy editor, explores the joys and challenges of aging well.

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