First published by Bett Harris on Medium October 31, 2019
Why it’s necessary we overcome our heuristic bias
Heuristic bias— Our tendency to do things the way we’ve always done them. — Mark Batterson, Draw the Circle
Humans are heuristic by nature
We tend to think and act in patterned ways. It’s a default trait that guides us toward the most practical method of doing things. These patterns are not guaranteed to be optimal or perfect but are sufficient to meet our immediate goals. In other words, if left unchallenged, our heuristic bias will enable us to get by, it will keep us afloat, it will make sure we have just enough.
I don’t know about you but I want much more out of life than just enough.
Over time, our patterns lead to mindlessness and our sacred routines become empty rituals
Patterns involve left-brain memory. Once a pattern is established it tends to happen automatically, from memory, by rote. No real conscious thought or choice is required on our part. In fact, we become mindless to the activity. Walking, singing our favorite song, even our eating habits can be examples of such routines.
Repetition can be comforting but it can also be spiritually dangerous. — Mishael Witty, Author
Patterns can be dangerous to the physical body as well
Such routines can also be detrimental to the physical body. Repetitive strain injuries result from doing the same action for a prolonged period of time. Carpel Tunnel Syndrome from prolonged typing and mouse use and Shin Splits from running are two excellent examples.
The areas that are overused become weak and ineffective.
Shake-it-up and get out of the dangerous patterns
Can you see how much we lose by not being present, by not choosing to be actively involved in our life? If we don’t pay attention and shake-things-up every once in a while, life will happen with us never have influenced it. To shake-things-up, we need to start using our right-brain imagination.
Shaking-it-up creates space for the optimal, for the best to happen.
Avoid damage and invite miracles
I invite you to challenge your patterns, not only to avoid further damage but to invite the miraculous. If we always do what we’ve always done we’ll always have what we’ve always had. If you want a different life then here’s your chance. I’ve included a list of suggestions that will get you started. This list includes some personal examples from my own life.
- Drive a different way to work or school once or twice a week.
- Change seating at the dinner table or eat in another room sometimes.
- Teach yourself to use your non-dominant hand to run your mouse.
- Visit a different church on occasion.
- Introduce a new healthy food into your diet each week.
- Avoid using credit for one month.
- Fast from media, TV or food for a specified period.
- Get a plant or a pet.
- Indulge your creative side, learn some form of artistic expression.
- Add a new, uplifting, affirming, empowering word or statement to your vocabulary regularly.
- Sit with someone new at lunch, preferably someone you don’t know.
- Join a group activity if you are an introvert.
- Spend scheduled time alone if you are an extrovert.
- Perform a random act of kindness once a day.
- Clean your closets, finally, and donate to charity.
- Think old-school and send a thank-you, get-well-soon, or thinking-of-you card in the mail. Yes, I mean snail-mail, with a stamp, and yes they still make stamps.
The list could be endless but I think you get the idea. Take a chance and make a leap-of-faith. Do something new and audacious. Shake-things-up a bit.
Warning: Attempt this only if you are prepared for the miraculous.