Are you acting on routine or inspiration?

February 26, 2015 | 20 comments

I’m an orderly type of guy. I like to know where things are without having to look for them. At the end of the day, my desk top is clear. My to-do lists get done. I look ahead to know what I need to be prepared when I get there. I read my Bible Lesson first thing in the morning, always. I’ve developed a number of routines in my daily schedule that enable me to accomplish much by the end of each day. And for the most part, it’s been a successful way to live and work.

But recently, I realized there’s a downside to fixed routines one must be aware of.

There are good routines and there are bad routines.

For instance, take bad habits. Do you have any of those? I have a couple…LOL. It occurred to me that if we get too much into letting the human mind outline our routine, it could just as easily outline a bad routine as it could outline a healthy routine. Mindless eating, smoking, swearing, apathy, itching, depression, cynicism, and many more…

I thought about those bad habits I’d like to break. I do them over and over again without thinking. A routine! And I thought that perhaps the bad habit isn’t so much the problem, as acceptance of the routine.

So, I began to redeem the concept of routine.

I thought about how Mary Baker Eddy had a rigid routine each day to manage her office hours. It was the only way she could get private time to herself and be still with God without outside interference. It was a practical necessity. It was a good routine. But the routine she established was to allow for inspiration. Routine mastered her schedule. Inspiration ruled her mind. And that’s what I needed more of. To be guided more by inspiration and less by routine.

And that’s been my prayer. To break the mesmerism of acting on blind routine, and be sure I’m acting on inspiration.

I still stick to my scheduling habits that allow for time to gain the inspiration I need to prosper during the day, but I’m challenging the in between moments when the human mind goes on auto-pilot and acts without thinking and those mental spaces become opportunity for error to repeat its nonsense. I pray to have every action guided by inspiration, and not by routine. And it’s helping. I’m making progress! And there is more to come, no doubt.

Are you acting on routine or inspiration? It could make all the difference.

20 thoughts on “Are you acting on routine or inspiration?”

  1. Evan, thank you for this blog. This week has been one in which my routine has been viciously interrupted … a dog bringing in a dead, perhaps diseased bird, resulting in the necessity of cleaning all of the rugs as well as the rooms, having to do unexpected gardening chores, and even some church activities taking more time than expected. I was brought to my “senses” by a few things on your list, i.e., itching, depression, apathy. I don’t think of these things as being routine, and their mention revealed the challenge and necessity of addressing them, and things that I do without thinking. I think that the concept of routine needs to be challenged, and the use of routine changed to the acceptance and expression of inspiration, embraced. Now, while I put my house back together in order to welcome friends including a new puppy, into my home this weekend, I won’t be routinely doing the tasks that are required. It will be nice to have a clean house, and fresh new thinking in the process.

  2. Funny you should include the seemingly incongruous “itching” in your list. I had not thought to think of my scratching as a routine but I see now the underlying itch certainly is. You have given me the ammunition to do away with it. Thanks.

  3. : ) !! I love that little hamster! What a great photo to go along with the ‘routine’ message! Years ago I had a hamster and he would enjoy being within a clear plastic ‘liberty’ ball where he was safe and could exercise within this (small basketball size, with air holes) ball and navigate within the house for as long as he wanted to. Talk about inspiration! He was so persistent in getting to where he wanted to go. There was a threshold that he sometimes had trouble getting over between the rooms. He knew if he couldn’t do it at first, and wanted to go that way, he had to try again… and again and again until he did! He Knew that he Could and eventually Did. He would go back farther to get more momentum and go faster and try another approach until he finally triumphed. It was quite amazing to see and a little fellow that small ‘got it’ and taught me a great lesson in inspiration and persistence.
    Thank you, Evan, for this great inspiration today.

  4. life is habit forming. That’s what I always tell my athletes to help them understand the value of developing the right use of routines in daily life. This is a very thought provoking blog today. Thank you Evan.

  5. Thank you Evan. An excellent topic for today!
    I love all the images which accompany your blogs.
    I was trying to understand the connection between a hamster wheel
    and what you shared. Carol and Josef have clarified the concept.

  6. Many office workers push paper around in their cubicle all day and then go to the gym and ride stationary bikes. Not too different from a hamster in a cage with wood chips and a wheel. The conditioned mind finds satisfaction in habits, whether it labels them good or bad. I love when Jesus said, “leave your nets,” the human trappings and striving, and follow me. Where? To freedom from material laws and limitations. In the spiritual realm there is only freedom, joy, inspiration and dominion. Thanks Evan for this blog,

  7. I tried to think of my routines. I am an early riser. I like the mornings when the house is quiet. I have a small routine that tells me it is time to meditate and pray , do the Bible lesson, read something inspirational. It is usually the first major thing I do. After reading your article I thought there are mornings when I jump into the do list and forget this is my time for inspiration, to start my day in the right place. And I miss it. Mortal mind says just do this, just do that and everything will be fine and look fine, you will have time, just a few more things. Look how efficient we are. I look at the clock and it is time to get ready and leave for work! Those are the ‘routines’ I will now recognize these helpful, driven morning to do list as the distractions/obstructions. I wasn’t doing anything that didn’t need to be done at some point but it was not what I needed to do for my growth,understanding, and peace. Thanks!

  8. Thanks Evan for all that you do!! I try to break the routine process by spiritualizing each activity that I do. Showering is cleansing my body of material thought. The sower water is infinity purity of cleansing my thought. Dressing is putting on the amour of God. There are usually 7 buttons on a shirt which represent to me the seven qualities of God. There are usually seven lops a belt fits in which surrounds me with Gods ever-presents. Walking is with Gods the direction and purpose. Driving down the road the middle line represents that each driver is guided and protected. Thanks again for your daily thought!!

  9. This blog goes above and beyond my understanding. I find nothing wrong in having a routine. To me it’s a planed system to get all the very important requirements done and if time allows then one is able to do the miscellaneous things that make life worthwhile. For weeks I haven’t been able to read the CHRISTIAN SCIENCE MONITOR, and today I accomplished that by changing my routine. So I really don’t understand this blog.

    1. Tobias, there are many good and healthy routines. One point of the blog, is to be sure we’re acting on inspiration, and not just rote. A healthy routine should lead to, or at least support ever higher inspiration, understanding and demonstration of God’s good.

  10. wow! what a stirring wake up call….. I’ve been thinking I needed to change the routine, which suits, but the inspiration is missing so I think the routine is bad, which is not the case. wow wow wow! thank you again Evan!!!!

  11. Love it all !!! Thanks everybody . It is fun and playful to break up the routine.
    I often like to change it up. Sometimes I’ll let something go off my to do list but substitute something of equal value which often brings a different inspiration! Shake it up! This topic has surely generated some provocative thoughts!

  12. thank you for opening my eyes to the fact that whem mortal mind reacts in the same way in situations that are similar( lets say when you are offended -the first thing that mortal mind will do is to bring to the surface all the shortcomes of the person that offended you)and this is a bad routine I never thought about rotine as thoughts but always as actions

  13. It is not ”either/or”, … it is both & more. So said a favorite teacher re: dilemmas & balance.
    As you imply, the ideal is to balance both to get the MAX; it’s a hazard to crowd-out inspiration. Routine can usually allow several minutes to at least jot-down a fresh, new insight for later development. … to acknowledge and appreciate that voice speaking inspiration behind you.
    I find that FORM is best when it serves FUNCTION. In my best ‘form’ I will reflect my highest
    FUNCTION: to be receptive & responsive to fresh, evolving, guiding inspiration.

    Your message is important to curb the simplistic habit of honoring the clean desk and ritual routine — what the eye can see — but ignoring the insight that is out of ‘sight.’
    And esp. needed in church activities where the quest for proper routine can seem to smother the prayer for fresh inspiration & healing.

    These probes to our priorities are most valuable. They fuel renewal & the ‘time for thinkers’.

  14. When you begin each day, one tends to follow a pattern of designated endeavors. Your Spiritual Sense directs you and allows you to make changes and maintain the balance to reflect Divine Love. This allows to meet your challenges to flow through the day.

    Sometimes this works well for us who have retired from the daily work force.

  15. This is a good post, Evan. It made me realize that just because an activity is routine, it isn’t necessarily good or bad. What is important is that it is divinely inspired. I will try to observe my routine habits and make sure they are for God’s glory.

  16. Scratching the “itch” can be reversed; something which I’ve recently been dwelling on; when i apply MBE’s simple instruction, “consult matter not at all,” S&H pg 222. The ensuing result has been to not be distracted by even a loose piece of cuticle or a broken fingernail. Scratching the itch has distracted me from knowing, really understanding that my Soul filled identity can never be separated from my Divine source, God.

    It is a whole new mental landscape, when my thought is arrested and I stop scratching, or (you fill in the blank) that would distract me from the inspiration of living in the NOW.

    Yesterday I climbed a mountain with my husband, and really felt inspired by the hike up and back, as it was outside the routine.

    1. Since discovering MBE’s reference on Misc. pg. 136, my life has changed. With often blowing the routine I was addressing, and instead, at the passing of an hour, moving to focus on the eternal and the infinite for a bit, I have had some outstanding, surprising, healing experiences. I often rise very early, am often interweaving how the eternal and infinite concepts relate to thoughts I’ve noted from the lesson, and ideas I also may have drawn from my now active work in the practice.
      It has necessitated my giving up a number of interests, and creating fresh ways of tackling mail, files, and tabletops. Dressing, laundry, meals, shopping, and apartment maintenance are much more done on the fly and while multi-tasking. But, how I do love my study time. Thank you very much for your blog on routines.

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