“All big things come from small beginnings; the seed of every habit is a single tiny decision” – James Clear
Pattern recognition or finding is automatic identification of patterns or similar occurrences in data. It forms an important part of human existence, evolution and survival. It is based on this concept that technologies like artificial intelligence, machine learning etc. have been developed. It has a wide range of applications in field of medicine, image analysis, seismic analysis, bioinformatics, signal processing and many more. But we are trying to apply this concept, not in a technical but in a subjective manner to our lives and give a different perspective which can be helpful in improving quality of life.
As much important as it is to make good habits, it is quintessential to break the bad ones. How is this possible? Can we stick to our conviction and do what is required? Do we have to struggle along the way? Can we be resilient and keep up whatever virtuous habits we have? A lot of questions are going to be dealt here in short but effective way. We are not looking at making or breaking habits here, but we do attempt to identify patterns which in turn lead to the goal of making helpful habits and purge unwanted conducts.
We live in patterns, a repetitive design or flow chart that we adopt over the years depending on our lifestyle. Few examples are:
Look at the life of a student. He follows a pattern of waking up, eating breakfast, going to school, finishing tuitions if any, coming home, playing with friends, having dinner and sleeping. Take a doctor, teacher or an engineer, he or she might be following the same pattern ever since they started their career and most probably, they will retire in that pattern.
Identify how we make friendships or new relations. It may be following a trend like identifying the need for each other, followed by basic introductions, then spending leisure time and some getting obsessed and out of control sharing every personal detail, and others keeping a healthy track of relationship. We feel bad for toxic relations, decide to reduce exposure and in one more weak moment we give up totally feeling great, after patching up again.
Taking a holiday once a year, meeting relatives for every festival or family event, indulging in leisure activities on weekends are few more.
These circlets may change with shift in work, place or education. But once settled in new position, they occur in a similar fashion. We can also categorize people based on these patterns. One set who are comfortable with a stable lifestyle, and the other set who consciously aspire to try things and spice up life by accepting changes and challenges.
Analysis of Routines:
Take a pen and paper.
Delve into your typical day/month/year and write your patterns.
Choose a recent time period, like last five years or right after you started your new academics or job or after your retirement. List out all the activities that you do every day with their timings.
Think of this as a fun activity. Even the most random thing, you think you do, has a pattern. It may not be following time pattern, but definitely does follow a mental pattern.
Examples – You may not go to a movie every Sunday or once every month, but you may be choosing to watch it whenever you are bored and dull.
You tend to order food online whenever you experience energy burn-outs, lack of time to cook or fearing the heavy traffic to actually go to a restaurant.
You will be surprised to see how unchanged life has been over the years. There is nothing wrong with it, except that our fullest potential lies dormant. The potential referred here is not about our intelligence or capability, but of the contentment and joy that we can experience. We all definitely deserve that extra dose of happiness.
Root Cause Analysis:
People prefer patterns mostly because they resist change. Patterns cocoon the fears, hide emotions and provide a safe zone to settle into. We should make sure they are not the root cause for our draining mental health. Most often, these unchanged patterns circuitously contribute to physical health problems.
We fail to identify that, feelings of boredom, frustration, low morale and depression, in spite of a good life, crop up when we get stuck in these circles. There is a trend in what we do, what we eat and what we wear.
Let us break down our life into different chunks to identify these bottom lines which we have been following inadvertently over years. There may be some which we do consciously, but there are many which we seldom put thought into. We need to sketch up a root cause analysis to the identifies patterns.
After completing the above activity, mention the root cause of each action at the end. Addressing each of these root cause will help you to kick start new things in life.
Tweak and tickle your life:
If you find yourself surrounded by negative people all the time, analyze what aspect of them attracts you. Engage yourself in non-personal and fruitful conversations. Maintain boundaries, reduce exposure and cut the chords gradually. Greet and get to know new people who have been progressive in their life.
If you experience failure in the same situations (like investments, purchase decisions, plans) again and again, decipher the problem. Try taking a break, give time for the mind to heal and adopt a different approach or seek professional advice.
If typical entertainment activities do not give you solace, change the time and reasons why you do them. Take a trip on working days if you can get leave, surprise a friend/relative whom you like the most, randomly gift your kid without attaching it to performance or reward, do chores at home, do charity and start a new savings plan. Watch a movie from a different genre, make a different choice of drink and taste a new cuisine.
If you are regressing to that undesired habit, explore the reasons which led you to them in the first place. Work on the cause rather than the effect. Avoiding a habit is nearly impossible unless you have a better one to replace it with. Be close to dear ones to curtail feelings of desperation. Practice healthy eating habits, stick to work out schedules, meditate and introspect.
Take a stroll in unexplored places of the city where you live.
Include new hobbies which you never knew before.
Learn a new technique or trick or course or content.
Keep changing the positions of furniture in the house and decorate it differently.
Wake up every single day with excitement, try to step-up your game with self-care habits. Live one day at a time.
Reduce dependence on technology, sleep earlier than usual and wakeup to see those first rays of sun.
Visit farmer’s market and cook a meal
Stop reliving past, loathing the present and avoid fearing the future.
Routines are definitely helpful in streamlining an otherwise waywardly mind of humans. But they do captivate our time in repetitive loops and deprive us from going to that extra mile. When they are embraced with change, we can work wonders.
Once in five years
7.30 AM Everyday
Five days a week