Having heard it’s good for maintaining cognitive ability, I like to vary things. And, to keep doing things right, I like habits. Are these mutually exclusive? Maybe, but here’re some thoughts on habits and variety.
It’s been touted that a great way to fend off the diminishment of cognitive capability is to do things differently. So, for instance, turning off the hall light before going down the hall on your way to bed. That is, finding your way in the dark. And, in general, trying things different ways. The notion is, this continual active cognitive challenge keeps your thinking ability from decaying. And that’s a good thing.
On the other hand, habits are helpful. For instance, having a regular approach to brushing your teeth. If you’ve established a good approach regularly, muscle memory can carry you through a late bedtime. And, in general, habits can help us make sure we do certain things that are good for us.
Is there a reconciliation? Here’s my just brainstorming, but I think that when you have a good awareness of the habit, varying it is a good procedure. You’re actively problem-solving, versus throwing yourself off balance at a bad time. So, taking on a challenge clear-headedly is good.
Now, we know that, for instance, training for emergencies and unexpected situations leads to better learning. That’s why varying practice is helpful. So wouldn’t unexpected challenges be even better? Probably, but I reckon we get enough of these in life anyway! That time you find out that you’re out of tea unexpectedly. Or when your car won’t start. Then we have challenges. And despite our best habits, the world seems to find ways to thwart our plans.
Now, changing bad habits to good ones is even harder. And then there’s the difference between habits and ritual. But those’er topics for another time.
So there are my thoughts on habits and variety. Do it, when you can devote enough cognitive resources to still be successful. That’s my approach, at least. There’s enough randomness in my life otherwise!
(And, yes, I’m not filming this one. Got to it too late! The world, thwarting my plans…)