Do You Love Being Back in Your Routine? I Do.

I was out of town on vacation last week, but today I’m back in the usual swing (mostly) of my routine.

And I love it.

I’ve noticed that some people really enjoying being away from their usual routines; they try to avoid having a lot of habits; they feel freer, more energetic, and more creative when their lives are less predictable.

I’m just the opposite. I embrace habits and routine. For me, discipline brings a sense of freedom, and I love the sense of my day unfolding as I’ve planned.

How about you? Do you cultivate habits or fight them? Are you happy to be back from a trip, or do you dislike settling back into the usual routine?

As always, the secret of happiness is to know yourself. I used to feel bad about the fact that I was such a homebody creature of habit, but now that I follow my personal commandment to Be Gretchen, I embrace this aspect of myself.

If you’d like to read more along these lines, check out Happier at Home, chapter six.

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  • Maggie Olson

    It’s funny: I fight the process of establishing a routine, but once I’ve done it, I’m SO happy! I’ve been planning my meals every week for the last three weeks and have no idea why I put it off for so long. It makes life so pleasant! I’m also facing a need to change my running routine and am huffy about it… I liked my old one!

    • kidhoma julius

      i would like to follow u and friend

  • peninith1

    There’s a rhythm about this. Most of the time I love my little routines, which almost could be said to be rituals–at least for starting and ending the day. But also, I need a break from time to time, when the routines can be abandoned for different places, activities and people. Even a 3 or 4 day ‘weekend’ helps me be refreshed–and be renewed in my commitment to the routines of everyday life. Even members of religious orders take trips away from their communities occasionally!

  • Christine

    The post is exactly what I feel right now.. Just got back from a vacation, I had so much fun. Now I’m back to work, I am now more energetic and guess what? I went to the office 2 hours before my usual time in.. Too excited to huh?

  • I think I enjoy routine more than I’d care to admit, but to a point. When I have more structure, I feel more accomplished, but I also start to rebel against too much structure. I’m still trying to find a balance in my daily life. I’d like to have a regular morning and bedtime routine, but I want to leave the middle of my day a little bit more open-ended so I have some wiggle room.

    P.S. Just finished reading Happier At Home, and I loved it! I got all sorts of underlining and note taking done =]

    • gretchenrubin

      I’m so happy to hear that it struck a chord with you.

  • Yes, Yes, yes….the college guy is back at school and I’m back to work and I love my routine. Every Monday night it’s teriyaki beef and leeks. Yum!

  • VetChangesWorld

    Love my routine, but love it even more after a vacation from it!

  • Martin Scragg

    The topic of routine often comes up at home and at work and being an engineer, routines, planning, schedules etc, are all part of my working day. It fits with me “being Martin”. All part of having a well formed outcome. I am definitely a planner and find it hard to move away from it, but when I do something spontaneous, say yes to a request that pushes me out of my plans, I get that sense of happiness for a short while that feels different somehow. But……….I like to fall back to my plans. It is very much like an addiction. When i don’t get enough planning, I feel lost, almost empty. Give me a project………..any project will do.

  • Annie

    I hate coming home from a nice relaxing holiday when you don’t have to worry about cleaning, cooking and all the other daily routines. However when I’m home I’m grateful to be in my own comfy bed with a hot chocolate and a good book. You can’t forget where you come from in life and you must never forget your original routes.

  • kimmarla

    I think there are good routines and bad routines. And if we really hate our day-to-day routine, it might be a sign that something needs to change.

  • Stephen Gaudet

    100% agreed with kimmarla…I feel that it’s up to us if we have a good or bad routine. I can’t imagine anyone NOT wanting to get back to a routine they like. That is the ultimate happiness place to be…coming from something that makes you happy (vacation), back to something else that makes you happy as well. What a great way to live.

  • Amy

    I like being in somewhat of a routine at home but on vacation I do not like to be on a schedule. On vacation, eat when hungry and sleep when you want!

  • KeLa

    What if I love my routines but my significant other hates that I’m like clockwork? How does anyone cope with that?

  • I don’t love routine but I do love the energy of Fall: there’s just something about it that’s refreshing, vivifying & exciting!

  • I just returned from a vacation and was actually a little disturbed by how much I did not want to return to my normal routine. I thought that it was the stress of returning home, but you’ve got me thinking back to previous vacations in my life. In fact, I never want to return. I guess I like the break from reality and the lack of responsibility that a vacation brings. Not to mention pools, hot tubs, adventures, seeing new things, etc.

  • Seville Link

    I had just finished reading your book, The Happiness Project, and out of all the things that I resonated with in the book, the “Be Gretchen” part has stuck with me the most. I, too had always labeled myself as rigid, felt guilty or felt oddly different than others when coming home from a vacation because I liked returning to my routine. I love being on vacation but I also love being back home. Reading your book made me think deeply about and realize that it’s a good thing to “Be Seville”, and I should revel in it, not fight it. So I’m looking forward to my upcoming vacation and will also be allowing myself to enjoy the coming home to routines.

    • gretchenrubin

      I’m so happy to hear that the book struck a chord with you.

  • Marjorie

    I love getting back to normal. I thrive on my routine and relish the sense of order it brings. It’s almost embarrassing. But I’m glad to be able to appreciate the normalcy that comes after appreciating a getaway. It’s all good.

  • Millita

    I guess we often would like to be what we’re not, as I am not a naturally routine person and would sometimes like to be as I see all the benefits from it. However, I am methodical and like to be organized, so I think of my routines in advance and try to stick to it, but it is not always easy and obviously not innate. Easier as I grow older though !

  • Jeanne

    I am a homebody who loves my routine (I call it my schedule). Even though I don’t 9 to 5 anymore, There is still something reassuring about sleeping in my own bed, having all my stuff around me and such. I don’t travel well (or much) because when I get away from my home and my schedule, my body doesn’t know how to react, so it mostly just shuts down and goes into wait mode. I can’t sleep, get horrible constipation and am physically miserable in general. Makes it hard to enjoy a trip. I have difficulty packing for a trip, not because I’m bad at packing the bag (I’m very good at that), but because I want to take everything I own, which to me indicates that I really don’t want to go. And when I take my body to 30 thousand feet, I get messages that something is terribly wrong! A human body was not evolved to live at 30 thousand feet. I love sea level and am most comfortable by the ocean. Fortunately, I live about half an hour away from one. I still am somewhat embarrassed by these tendencies, since other people seem to love travel and it’s the number one retirement dream. But I’m working more at being me too.

    • Veronique

      Jeanne I am very similar and struggle with it because I love to see new places. I am also an excellent packer and have gone to Paris for a week with one small bag and everything I need but once I’ve been away for about five days my yearning to get back and see my animals and home is almost physical. My husband and I want to go hiking in New Zealand and that will be a three week trip. I want to go but I know I will be miss my home! In the summer I am very happy for a few weeks to kick back and enjoy the change of pace but by late August I am so tired of being out of routine I have to stop myself from being irritable.

  • Meg

    I so appreciate that others love routine. I’m a school teacher and love, love, love summer….for about the first two months. After that, I’ve cleaned, sorted and thrown out everything I can get my hands on and am ready to get back to work with students and colleagues. I wonder if I’m the only teacher who gets to this point, but once fall rolls around, my husband and I both laugh about how the world is righting itself in our lives.

  • pheoenix1920

    I’d love to hear more about how a routine can be experienced as freedom. While it seems so baffling to me, perhaps if I could change my perspective, it would be helpful to sticking to a routine.

    • gretchenrubin

      Wait for my next book! This issue is a MAJOR theme.

  • Joanna Goodwin

    At this very moment I am winging my way to northern California to begin a wonderful vacation, one I’ve been looking forward to for months. Yet I nursed a heart-ache longing for home before I even left the house this morning. My husband and I marvel daily how much we love our home, the sheer beauty and comfort of our surroundings. While we love the excitement of travel and new adventures, nothing pleases us more than the warm embrace of our home.

  • maghag

    I love breaking routine for a good (read: vacation) reason but after about 5-7 days, me and mine all love returning home to our comfort zone and routines. Even routines that my kids consider not-good are still recognized and welcomed after a break.

  • I love routine. I hate not having it. I’ll be glad to get back from my holiday (I haven’t actually left yet!), of course I’ll enjoy myself whilst I’m away but after the summer lull – I’m looking forward to crazy resuming itself.

  • Carol

    There’s a brazilian song that says that. ” Discipline is freedom”.

    I think it depends on the kind of routine you have. if it’s a good one, you get comfortable with it. But if it’s not the way you want, you end up fighting against it.

    I can say I love routine with little surprises. 🙂

  • Molly

    Yes, I can’t wait for labor day to be over so I can get on with business as usual! I am not a big fan of three day weekends.

  • rlepkan

    I strive for routine!! I have yet to hit my stride : )

  • David Ko

    Hi Gretchen, excellent post!

    I’m even weirder in that I feel a sense of relief and happiness when I’m back to my routine, so much so that every once in awhile I’ll seek out deviations (working from home, etc.) in order to feel that relief & happiness again.

    Kind of like a chicken or the egg thing hahah.