What a Novel Idea: The Many Benefits of Predictability
Like the predictability of the seasons, finding your rhythm in routines can be good for the soul
When I was a kid, I adored novelty. I always wanted something different to experience, a new place to go. In my mind, there was nothing worse than doing the same thing week in and week out. However, I’ve come to appreciate routines as an adult, especially because multiple sclerosis (MS) can — and often does — make things in my life very erratic.
There’s something wonderful about predictability when the world is one big ball of chaos, and I find that returning to a season or place brings me a sense of comfort and wholeness that nothing else can quite match.
It’s now September, and fall is a few short weeks away. I’m looking forward to cooler weather and all the happy occasions that fill our calendars. I mean, college football is back. (“Woo pig sooie!”) Pretty soon it’ll be time for apple picking, hayrides, and corn mazes. We can make warm drinks and enjoy cozy fires outside with friends. And while I’m no fan of pumpkin spice anything, I’m always up for a good stout beer.
Living in a state where the seasons actually change makes me appreciate each one more fully: the brilliance of fall with all its changing leaves, the bareness of winter and the way it makes me fully inhabit the warm spaces I call home, the return of gentle spring warmth with its beautiful blossoms, and the glorious blaze of summer when everything is green and robust. Even if something about me is different, thanks to MS, the seasons are still there — constant and lovely, like the stars that present themselves faithfully to us each year.
I’ve also found that establishing my own routines has its benefits as well. For example, I’ve been making time to pray in both the mornings and evenings by using a prayer rule, repeating the same devotions and scriptures each day, and it’s changing me for the better. I am calmer, more focused, and better able to face challenges. Rather than escape my circumstances through entertainment or pleasure, I’m more fully present within myself. There’s a stillness and quietness that comes with daily prayer, and it’s shaping me in ways that I hadn’t expected but am very much enjoying.
As strange as it may sound, routines can even enhance our creativity. In an interview in The Paris Review, Haruki Murakami, the award-winning Japanese author of “1Q84” and “The Wind-Up Bird Chronicle,” among many others, talked about the importance of routines for a writer. He said:
“When I’m in writing mode for a novel, I get up at four a.m. and work for five to six hours. In the afternoon, I run for ten kilometers or swim for fifteen hundred meters (or do both), then I read a bit and listen to some music. I go to bed at nine p.m.
“I keep to this routine every day without variation. The repetition itself becomes the important thing; it’s a form of mesmerism. I mesmerize myself to reach a deeper state of mind.”
Repetition is mesmerism. I like that thought. When we get into a routine, our bodies working on autopilot, our minds are free to roam and make connections. We begin to see and perceive things in a totally different way.
So whether it’s comfort, focus, or creativity you’re hoping to gain as we step into the final months of 2022, I suggest you try setting up some routines. Discover a rhythm that fits your life like a comfortable sweater. Maybe you’ll find some answers in the process, or perhaps you might just find yourself.
Note: Multiple Sclerosis News Today is strictly a news and information website about the disease. It does not provide medical advice, diagnosis, or treatment. This content is not intended to be a substitute for professional medical advice, diagnosis, or treatment. Always seek the advice of your physician or other qualified health provider with any questions you may have regarding a medical condition. Never disregard professional medical advice or delay in seeking it because of something you have read on this website. The opinions expressed in this column are not those of Multiple Sclerosis News Today or its parent company, BioNews, and are intended to spark discussion about issues pertaining to multiple sclerosis.