04 October 2013

How you tie your shoes; and why it matters

How do you ties your shoes? More importantly, how many different ways can you tie your shoes? (No, double knotting does not count as a different way of tying your shoes.) I have asked this question of many people and have found a common trend: most people only know one way and no one I have asked knows more than two ways.

Who cares? Well, you should. Most people who only know one way of tying their shoes have not learned additional ways because: either they assume that they were taught the most efficient method as a youth or they spend so much time focusing on other areas of their life that they have not taken time to refine one of the most basic components of their life.

To be honest, it was quite shocking to me the first time I learned another way to tie my shoes. It was shocking because I had never before supposed that there could be a different way to tie shoes. Shoe laces are such a basic component, and tying them such a basic routine, of daily life that it seemed trivial to address the methods again, later in life.

This being written, however, I wish to point out the number of times that untied shoes how hampered an activity. Consider the poor sportsman who has to stop mid-game to tie his shoes or the hiker who has to either stop the hiking part or run to catch up after retying her laces. In either case, a few minutes spent learning a more efficient and secure way of tying laces could have prevented the momentary loss of enjoyment.

Why am I writing about this? Because single knot tying knowledge often means that the individual has stopped learning new ways of living life in general. In other words, most adults have a singular method for each routine life activity and rarely try new and different ways of doing the same old things. It makes sense though. Why learn something new when the old way seems perfectly fine.

The answer, for me at least, is simple. We should be ever learning in case there is a better way to live. Though I would not advocate spending so much time learning that one wastes their life endlessly learning about the same thing (I do not have to eat every fish to know I do not like seafood) but one should at least try a variety and revisit the topic every often.

Learning new things can contribute to overall life satisfaction and even generate happiness by stimulating the mind and adding variety to life. And, who knows: maybe you will learn a better way to do things.

As a side note, I recognize that life should not be all about efficiency but investing energy in being efficient allows the background noise of daily maintenance to fall into the background, which in turn allows us to focus on the business of living.

So, get a little outside your comfort zone and learn a new way of doing something you have been doing for a while. You might learn a better way to tie your shoes or you might find a new reason to appreciate your current methods.

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