Happiness (this week, for us) is… buying a bloody massive jar of instant coffee, the hugest box of oatmeal we can find, and food to go in the freezer – to eat at a much later date (whooooop!).
Yup, after five weeks of travelling to four different countries, we’re staying put for two months – in Berlin. And boy are we ready for it. We can learn the most efficient way around the supermarket, suss out and stick to the best wifi cafes in the area, discover our favourite spot in the nearby park, work out the best ways to get anywhere in the city, and…
Oh shit. No, this is exactly what we can’t do. Because while it’s lovely to buy in bulk, really get to know a place, and have two months free of packing-related strops from Mish, all this stuff leads to habituation. Which is a very. bad. thing. It means we stop taking stuff in. We stop experiencing. We stop being creative. We take things for granted. And all hell breaks loose over the smallest inconvenience. (No chicken thighs in the supermarket today? Holy crap, what the hell are we going to do about dinner? The cafe’s shut due to a massive fire in which everyone died? Great – now where are we going to work?)
When we habituate, we get lazy and we stop thinking properly. We essentially become the metaphorical man with a hammer: we have the same solution for every single problem because we’re not exposing ourselves to new people, new situations or new ways of doing things. We stop coming up with cool ways to expand our own business, and our ideas for clients start to look samey and uninspired.
Travel really helps to avoid habituation: by living in new places, we’re constantly exposing ourselves to new experiences.
BUT BUT BUT it’s perfectly possible to avoid habituation while living in one place too. Routines are fine (and necessary, we argue constantly); it’s what you do and absorb within those routines that matters. If you always read the paper in the morning, try reading different papers to absorb different points of view (even ones that conflict with your own). If you always leave the office at lunch to stretch your legs, take different routes and see new things. Stop fricking watching Eastenders every night, and expose yourself to some TED talks or documentaries.
When we arrived in Chiang Mai earlier this year, we couldn’t get over all the amazing, beautiful temples everywhere – and for the first couple of weeks we took hundreds of photos and spent a lot of time gawping. By the end of our stay, we were too busy taking photos of our own silly faces for the blog to notice the stunning stuff going on around us. We’d habituated and as a result we’d stopped experiencing.
So… break your habits and experience new things. In the process, you’ll have better ideas, better (and more appropriate) solutions to problems, and you’ll generally be more appreciative of the beautiful and incredible stuff around you.
Unless you live in Milton Keynes. Or Wolverhampton. Or Grimsby.
Anyway, you get the drift.
A quick thank you…
Last week we asked if you’d like us to start up some sort of community or forum. Gazillions of you wrote back to say yes, so we’re going to go for it! Thank you all so much for your comments and suggestions – we’ll keep you updated on our progress.