These seven exercises will strengthen your mental flexibility, prepare you be more resilient to change and help you be more successful at work (because nimble thinking is often rewarded). And frankly, maybe you'll have some fun doing things differently for a change.
No GPS allowed. Lose the compass. Try finding different ways to get home from work... even if it takes a little longer. Or try a new route for weekend chores. Once for a soccer carpool, the kids and I had a fun time finding 18 different ways to do our route. You never know what you might see when you turn off your autopilot. Or just take a turn down a different road and see where it goes. This is not recommended in Los Angeles, perhaps, or when you have to be somewhere on time, but you might enjoy some new scenery now and then.
Give It Up
Do without something you use on a regular basis for a week or a month or whatever feels interesting. Try living without something that is normally a staple in your life -- like plastic or bread. In addition to practicing new ways to do things, you may find a way to rid yourself of a cumbersome habit or process.
Have an Opposite Day
Did you ever play opposite day as a kid? If you mean no, you say yes; you write with the opposite hand; wear your shirt inside out? Make a day where you try a few things in an "opposite" way, like brushing your teeth with the other hand or walking on a different side of the street. You'll experience a different perspective and practice flexibility at the same time.
Take a Kid's Approach
Kids' wide-eyed approach to life is contagious. Most of them have not yet learned fear of failure and are not afraid to look silly. Be like them. Just go for it. Try a new dance move. Play a sport you aren't good at. Take a class to learn a new skill. If you need help, go find a kid to encourage you. Get out of your comfort zone.
Have Some Wordplay
I dare you. Switch the language to an unfamiliar one at the ATM! It is good for an adult brain to be stretched to learn a new language, but if you aren't in for that big of a challenge, just practice other languages here and there. When visiting an ethnic restaurant ask the hostess how to say "thank you" or "hello" in her language. (This is especially fun with kids.) On an airplane test yourself with the safety instructions. It is a harmless way to step out of your comfort zone and see the world from a different perspective.
Mix It Up
If your morning routine is predictable as instant oatmeal, then mix it up. It may be cozy in that routine, but this is just practice. You can go back to it tomorrow. Add a few extras that can even be treats (like five minutes for just listening to music, or speaking of oatmeal, a delicious bowl of organic oatmeal with fruit instead of your usual egg). Just make it different -- walk the dog before breakfast instead of after breakfast. Your dog will be confused, but you'll all be okay and you will have kicked your flexibility ability up a notch.
Hang Out With Strangers
If you only spend time with people just like you, you deny yourself a way to see life from different perspectives. Sure, those people like you are a comfortable bunch. But you know what I'm going to say about that! Stretch a little. Do something your friends think you would never do! Join a Sierra Club hike. Go to a book reading on something you know nothing about. Take in a Poetry Slam. Participate in SantaCon.
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