“There sits a Starbucks and directly across the street from that exact same building as that Starbucks there is another Starbucks. There is a Starbucks across the street from another Starbucks. And ladies and gentleman that, is the end of the universe.”
— Lewis Black
A Starbucks sits across the street from another Starbucks in Seattle.
If you were an alien, suddenly transported to earth directly between these two identical purveyors of burnt jungle beans, you might conclude that crossing the street to get a cup of coffee must be an enormously difficult task on Earth.
But you are not an alien, and you are already smart enough to know that it is not difficult for most of us to cross the street and get a cup of coffee. And you probably also know why those two cookie cutter businesses can survive in such close proximity.
Most people won’t go out of their way to do something new, even get a cup of coffee. At any given moment, most adults are following a pre-programmed itinerary. An itinerary which is ironically unscripted, yet very rigid. And very hidden.
Our hidden habits dictate our daily routines. Repeated anger and frustration over minor inconveniences are an indication of how tightly we are clinging to our patterns. It’s a signal of how tightly our habits are sealed shut.
That grip on those unconscious patterns controls our openness to change. If we rarely venture to new places, seldom read articles that challenge our world view, repeatedly find fault in others, or seem like we’re constantly fighting the same battles … we probably are. There’s a good chance we’re not letting new people, places, or ideas into our lives.
Those habits may also prevent us from helping others, being more kind, and making those small but crucial differences in our everyday lives. Even little things look hard if you’re not in the habit – picking up the trash in our neighborhood; volunteering at our children’s school, at your church, or in your community; talking with our neighbors and getting to know them; listening to a colleague instead of talking; adding a kind comment to someone’s blog post; wishing someone well on their birthday; or writing a thank you card.
Little things make big differences, but not if we don’t do them. Because our friends don’t do them. Because our world view says they are not important. Because we’re not in the habit of doing them. Because we won’t cross the street. Because it’s not convenient.
The next time you want a cup of coffee, try crossing the street and sample the beans at another coffee shop. That simple act probably won’t throw open the shutters on your eyes to a new world.
But it might just crack open the seal on your habits.
Yesterday’s gifts of time … Made an extra trip to school to take our struggling neighbor boy to his classes … Went a little out of my way to buy a few Gatorades for the gas station attendants on a very hot Friday afternoon.