Entries for month: February 2012

Morning Routines and Rituals

When someone is having a bad day, we often say, “Seems like you got up on the wrong side of bed in the morning.”  That obviously implies there is a right side of the bed to get up on.  And that implies that there must be a morning routine at least for which side of the bed to get up on! 

There’s a Judging-Perceiving facet from the MBTI® Step II™ inventory on the use of routines and schedules – it’s called Scheduled-Spontaneous.  Basically Scheduled people like and use them and Spontaneous people do not. 

When Naomi Quenk and I were writing some materials on the MBTI Step II instrument, we had some particularly boring tasks associated with that writing.  To make it more interesting, we began searching for quotations* to liven up our work.  Here are some of what we came up with for this facet:

“Work consists of whatever a body is obliged to do…play consists of whatever a body is not obliged to do.”  – Mark Twain

“It is not in novelty, but in habit that we find the greatest pleasure.” – Raymond Radiguet

“Consistency requires you to be as ignorant today as you were a year ago.” – Bernard Berenson

“One of the advantages of being disorderly is that one is constantly making exciting discoveries.” – A.A. Milne

I’ve started asking my friends about their morning rituals and have found a lot of variety. Everyone seems to have one regardless of their Judging-Perceiving preferences, as you’ll see from their types.

One of my ISTP friends says she begins each day with gratitudes…for whatever she is grateful for in her life…a grandchild…the sunshine…her dog…oatmeal…a poem.  She wishes she had more of a morning ritual; she’d like to sit and read scripture for an hour.  When she does that she likes it, but she rarely does it. 

Another friend, an INTJ, has cancer and is undergoing chemotherapy which leaves him feeling very fatigued and sometimes fuzzy headed.  His morning ritual used to be meditating for an hour; he found it very centering and it brought clarity to his thinking for the rest of the day.  With the chemo he is too tired to get up in time for the meditation before he has to go off to work.  He feels in a fog all day.  He is looking forward to getting back to his routine.

For some of my friends (ENFP, ENTJ, ESTJ, INFP, ENFJ), exercise is an important start to their day - running or swimming or walking the dog.  That sort of mindless exercise allows for all sorts of thoughts to swirl in and out. 

I have noticed a difference in the Judging-Perceiving exercise programs.  The Judging types tend to do the same form of exercise and take the same paths on their runs/walks.  The Perceiving types mix it up, often deciding at the last possible moment which exercise and which route.

Food can also serve as part of that morning ritual.  One friend (INFP) tries to get nine cups of greens in every day and finds the whirr of her blender meditative as she adds greens to her morning smoothie. 

Others (ESTJ, ESFJ, INTJ) report the comfort of eating the same foods to start each day – I won’t bore you with a description of those foods and the order they are eaten in. 

That morning cup of coffee also can be a ritual, although one friend (INFP) insists hot water with a slice of lemon is much better than coffee as part of her ritual.  And many include reading a newspaper (either on paper or on-line) in their ritual.

Something I’d like to add to my morning routine came my way from a spirituality class I recently took: “I step into this day. I step into this life. I step into this great mystery.” 

So what’s your morning routine (or not!)?? 

*CAPT publishes these quotes in a hand-out entitled “Facet Sayings and Songs.”


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Just Be

My love she speaks like silence.

That’s the opening line of my favorite love song, “Love Minus Zero” by Bob Dylan, and I always think of it around Valentine’s Day. Clearly, the woman Dylan is singing about is special. She might be a woman of few words, but Dylan feels her love in every cell in his body…

She doesn’t have to say she’s faithful,
Yet she’s true, like ice, like fire.

Being a person of few words seems to matter to Dylan. Throughout the song, he contrasts the meaningless chatter of other people with the meaningful silence of his love…

People carry roses,
Make promises by the hours,
My love she laughs like the flowers,
Valentines can’t buy her.

In the dime stores and bus stations,
People talk of situations,
Read books, repeat quotations,
Draw conclusions on the wall….

My love winks, she does not bother,
She knows too much to argue or to judge.

The last verse of the song is the most haunting. It leaves me with the impression that Dylan’s love is a person we might call natural or instinctive, rather than sophisticated and verbal, and because of that, she is vulnerable…

The wind howls like a hammer,
The night blows cold and rainy,
My love she’s like some raven
At my window with a broken wing.

Dylan’s love, whoever she was, always reminds me of Dylan himself, a man who values actions more than words. In spite of being such a good poet and songwriter, he was fairly inarticulate. I don’t think he set out to find words to express meanings, like most songwriters do, as much as he stumbled upon meanings while he played with words, or left it to his listeners to stumble on meanings.

When he was being interviewed, he was notorious for hating to talk about his music… who influenced it, what it meant, what kind of musician he was. He resisted being labeled in any way that would restrict his freedom to play with words and music. And he especially hated being asked about himself. “There’s nothing that is really very interesting about me,” he said. “It’s my least favorite subject.” He could dodge questions so well that it seemed like he, himself, “spoke like silence.” When asked if he would give any advice to people he said, “Just be.”
I don’t know what type Bob Dylan is, but he really reminds me of the SPs in my life. The frustration that his interviewers went through always reminds me of the frustration that I went through trying to introduce SPs to type. No matter how well I articulated the differences between the preferences, they did not want to choose one for themselves. They could dodge the preferences so well that the clear opposites would vanish before my eyes, and I’d be left holding a big mush of everything mixed together. It seemed like they were always trying to tell me, “Just let me be.”

Like Dylan, my SP friends were in love with the unique moments of their lives, not how those moments could be grouped into patterns or rankings. And they loved the feeling of choosing the next step, not the thought that it was already chosen for them by psychological preferences.
There were some people who would happily identify themselves as SPs and speak for their types, but they were so rare that in 25 years of working in the type community, I could count the number on one hand.
I finally realized that giving an SP a tool for understanding themselves is like giving a chemist a hammer, or a carpenter a Bunsen burner. It’s a useful tool, but they’re usually not doing that kind of work. If type is going to be helpful, it’s only to me, in understanding them. One ISTP said to me, “I thought of you the other day when I did (something typical of his type).” He thought of me, because I’m the one who cares that he did something typical of his type, not him.
Well, you might ask, if the SPs in your life were so good at dodging type, how did you know they were SPs?
All I can say is…they just were.