Routines usually make life easier and give us a sense of security and comfort. In many cases, carrying out repetitive tasks can save time and reduce errors; it’s the "experience factor". When we go somewhere, either to work or to a friend's house, we regularly take the same route we already know; it minimizes challenges and give us confidence and peace of mind. We like to do certain things in a certain order; we long for the feel of permanence and security.
Unfortunately, something that apparently has a positive impact in the short term can result in long-term negative outcomes. It is well known that routine and automation reduces the brain capacity. Executing routine activities diminish brain performance by limiting intellectual function to the specific areas that allow us to accomplish the task almost automatically with the result that other brain areas decrease their activity and exercise. It is similar to what happens to muscle activity: muscles we seldom use tend to reduce their capacity and inadvertently undergo gradual atrophy.
Consequently, modifying habits, changing the sequence of activities, using different routes on the way to work, walking the aisles at the supermarket in the opposite direction, trying to increase the use of the left hand for those who are right-handed, making the effort to remember the location of things we do not see, practicing activities and playing games with multiple variations (such as chess), learning and using a second (or third) language, searching and learning the meaning of new words, sampling new flavours and odors, and so on, are conducts that could help to avoid the temptation of falling into comfortable routines and should have the effect of strengthening mental capacity in young people and maintaining mental agility and competence in older people by protecting the brain from stagnation and dreaded eventual paralysis.