walking

Open Your Mind: Take A Different Route

When I’m feeling uninspired, I do the same thing differently.  When I need help solving a problem, when I’m not in the mood to start important work, when I’ve got something on my mind, when I need a bit of mental stimulation, I do one thing.

I change direction.  Literally.

photo by ChodHound

photo by ChodHound

One of the most consistent and shockingly simple actions you can take to open your mind is to take a different route somewhere. Walk, drive, cycle…it doesn’t matter.  Just go a different way.  It’s simple, yet amazing.

Next time you want a mouthful of mind food, travel to campus a different way to usual.  Go home along paths you’ve not explored before.  Find another way of getting from A to B.  Even if you change just a few steps off your normal route, do it!  Make it count.

Plan a different route in advance if you like.  You don’t need to be spontaneous.  The purpose of changing direction is to see things differently.  If you go the same way, every day, you’re unlikely to be inspired by the same old views and landmarks.

As soon as you vary the journey a little, you notice new things, you appreciate it differently, and you stop treating the commute as a necessary annoyance.  Upon reaching your destination, you’re more likely to feel positive, alert, and ready to deal with whatever comes your way.

There are all sorts of variations on this:

  • Ride a bike instead of taking the bus. Changing mode of transport is just as effective;
  • Take the same route as usual, but look up instead of down at the pavement. Challenge yourself to spot things you hadn’t noticed before;
  • Make a point of studying a particular aspect of the route, like the distinguishing features on the front doors you pass, for instance;
  • Find three or four ways to get from A to B and never take the same route two days in a row;
  • Switch off your iPod. Listen to the world as you walk;
  • Switch on your iPod. Let the journey and the music be one. Listen to different types of music each day and see how it changes the way you feel;
  • Go further…walk the long way around to get somewhere. Leave more time and enjoy a leisurely walk off the beaten track. Who cares if you start off by walking away from your destination?  You’ll get there in the end!

Stuff like looking at front doors may seem a bit strange, but it’s simply to help you think differently.  You don’t have to have a reason for it.  The exercise is to stimulate your mind in a way you hadn’t been stimulating it before.

This is probably the most effective exercise I do. In the past, when I’ve been feeling bogged down, angry, confused, stuck for ideas, uninspired, or anything negative, this has been the key back to wonder.

Which direction are you headed today?