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THE HUMAN SIDE | A welcomed routine change

You never know when a seemingly distasteful interruption might come along and change your life for the better.

When my television died my first thoughts were of missing my favorite nightly news stations, old time movies on TCM and what was needed to return to these routines quickly.

Suddenly I thought, “How about experimenting to see what happens without TV?”

The word routine means to keep, not to break. In my case, it meant breaking with programs I watch regularly. When I broke with them, I surprisingly found myself freed from watching the clock for the time of nightly news and other favorite programs.

When reading a book, I ignored the clock and continued to read at my leisure. If I was playing my violin, again I avoided thinking of time and continued to play until satisfied with its sound. No longer tied to the time schedule of TV programs, I enjoyed better control of my time.

Several other unforeseen advantages arose. I was no longer locked into programs that often kept me up late. My sleep was sounder and surprisingly my dreams were more positive and enjoyable. And too, I was freed of disruptive advertisements.

Breaking old routines led to the welcomed routine of taking a walk after dinner and bypassing televised sports events that kept me indoors on weekends.

A renowned psychologist once wrote that if people were deprived of stimulating activities many would go insane. It is true that withdrawal can generate bizarre behaviors and mental malaise. Some people by nature live on constant stimulus. When absent, it is like being in solitary confinement.

I must admit that when TV first invaded our homes, it mesmerized me, and as it becomes better developed it is even more mesmerizing. Call it an addiction or whatever, it has given me great pleasure.

And yet, having experimented being without it makes me wonder if I am missing even greater pleasures. Most important, it made me more conscious of the power routines possess and the need to check them every so often.

Try the experiment and experience its impact on your life. You might be in for a very pleasant surprise.

Father Hemrick is the director of the National Institute for the Renewal of the Priesthood.

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