Make Your New Year Fun, Curious and Different

“The difference between a rut and a grave is the depth” Gerald Burrill

Make your New Year FUN, CURIOUS, and DIFFERENT!

Make this a NEW year. A year of curiosity and change. No one wants to live their life in a rut. And staying in a rut can be detrimental to your well-being.

How might you go about getting out of your rut? Start doing things DIFFERENTLY. As neuroscience catches up with the wisdom and foresight of Moshe Feldenkrais, scientists are discovering that the brain is, indeed, malleable into our adult years. These changes can happen with a variety of brain exercises, and the exercises proven to make the greatest difference include physical movement.

So as my parents play crossword and suduko to challenge their brains, they are missing the most significant components to facilitate brain change: MOVEMENT. As we enter the new year, I’d like to propose a number of ways for you to bring variety to your everyday movements.

Not only does adding variety to your habitual movements help the brain organize and problem solve differently, but there are added benefits as well. When the mind pauses to focus on doing a “new” task, it stops habitual thinking patterns. Many habitual thinking patterns are not useful. One might be thinking over and over again about an argument, or the crazy driver who pulled in front of him. We might be planning the same dinner and shopping stops over and over, or worrying about vacation plans that are months away. A pause in these repetitive thoughts gives our mind a break — like a rest, or a brief nap. Our minds are then more available and fresh to think creatively in new situations or for problem solving.

After reading and trying some of these new and different ways to engage in your life, I would like to invite YOU to send me any of your own ideas that you find yourself experimenting with so that others might benefit from your creative ideas.

1. Dress differently:

If you usually put your right sock on first, or your right pant-leg in first, try doing the left side first once in a while. Same with your shirt.

If you usually dress your top half first, try dressing your bottom half first.

If you button or zip with your dominant hand, try using the other hand.

What other ways of dressing “differently” can you think of?

2. Drive differently:

Have several different routes to choose from for driving to work or your favorite grocery store. Pick a different way each day.

Open your car door with the non-habitual hand.

Turn the radio off, look around, and appreciate the scenery in a new way.

3. Walk differently:

Whether you’re out on a walk for exercise, or walking around your home or at the store, play around: Turn your toes in, out, both to the right, both to the left…walk on your toes, your heels…look down at your feet, up at the sky…walk sideways, or backwards….PLAY like a child.

4. Exercise differently: Whether jogging, biking, swimming, or skiing; going to the gym, doing aerobics, yoga, or any number of healthy activities, find a way to alter it just a bit. (See #3 above) Play with the direction and angle of your legs, feet, arms, hands, head, eyes….the variations could go on and on…and do. By bringing variety to your exercise routine, the time will go more quickly and enjoyably as well.

5. Shop differently:

If you usually shop at the same store, try another store.

If you usually start your shopping on the right side of the store, start on the left side, or in the middle. Try a new brand, a new flavor, or a new recipe.

The other bonus of doing things differently in the new year is that not only do you develop more balance in you mind, but in your body as well. All of us tend to use our habitual side (usually our right arm) to do most of our activities. By engaging the non-habitual side more, we become more balanced physically.

I look forward to hearing from you about your own experiments and I wish you a healthy, happy, and DIFFERENT NEW YEAR!