Exploring New Roads

Last week the focus was on learning about self; as we discussed how much we pay attention to ourselves, how well we can imagine others’ views of the world, how well we have developed our communication repertoire, how secure we are in our sense of self, and how we can navigate the process of learning new ideas [from awkwardness to integrated behavior].

This week, Dr. Chapman is asking us to consider the beauty of learning new things.

I put the road map above to symbolize how we live life sometimes.

When you are driving, have you ever taken a new road, an unfamiliar road?  Have you ever done that just for fun?

Have you ever been lost and enjoyed it?  [I have a relative who has overwhelming fear at the idea of being lost.]

Have you ever taken a vacation in such a strange place that you did not know anything at all about the location and you had to discover where to go and what to do once you got there?

Believe it or not it’s kind of like learning new things.

As human beings, we often like the familiar, even though the familiar can become habitual and habits can become boring.

Don’t get me wrong, I don’t advocate ridding our lives of all habit.  A few years ago, I started a nightly habit of flossing my teeth every night and I am glad I did.  [Dr. Oz says that it is a very good thing to do for your overall health].  When I go to the dentist, the hygienist raves about how my flossing is paying off as she cleans my teeth.

But everything does not need to be habitual, especially if it leads to boredom.

One of the key features in effective long-term intimate relationships is how partners negotiate the novelty-predictability spectrum.  To explain, couples need to figure out how to have novelty from time to time along with predictability.

I once knew of a couple who was addicted to drugs.  They lived life fueled by the need to get high.  Sometimes they had money and sometimes they did not.  Sometimes they had a job and sometimes they lost their employment.  Sadly the need for the high continued and they had to satisfy that.  They resorted to bumming money off of family and friends.  They sold stuff and pawned stuff and sadly they even stole things to get their “fix.”

Why do I tell this story?  Because that couple lived a life of too much novelty and not enough predictability.

How can one get that nice blend of novelty and predictability?

No one wants to have multiple daily surprises.  But no one wants everyday boredom either.  Dr. Chapman says “there is nothing wrong with order.  In fact, doing the same things in the same order may even conserve time.”   He admits that shaking things up is good for us mentally.  “We are also innately creative.  As we tap into our creative nature, life becomes more exciting and less predictable…variety stimulates the mind.  It is easier to keep the mind active if you change your routine.”

Have you ever found yourself mindlessly saying the Lord’s Prayer in worship service?  Have you said the Apostles Creed without thought?  Have you ever spent time with a pastor that used the same phrases over and over again and he said them quickly, as if they were automatic?

Well get ready…

This week Dr. Chapman is going to challenge us all to try to explore new roads.

At the end of the road we take we will find God.  It won’t hurt us to experience a little excitement and creativity as we travel along the way.

I believe that He appreciates that.

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