The bliss of doing the same thing over and over again

Some people say that happiness and fun is a function of spontaneity, to do the unpredicted.

But sometimes the opposite is true.  My wife spent the past two weeks on night shift while I continue to work regular day shift.  For two weeks our schedules overlap only between 6pm to 9pm on a lucky evening assuming she doesn’t return home late in the morning and need those few extra hour of sleep, and assuming that her service doesn’t require her attention earlier.

We spend those three hours after she wakes up doing the same thing every day.  I begin dinner on the stove, always shortly after returning home and before she wakes up.  We share a meal over a discussion, always about her night, my day, and everything in between.  After dinner, we put Netflix on the TV, always following The Mindy Project, laughing either with or at the show.  Her pager always rings during this time.  We say our goodbyes, and off she goes to work.

Rituals are an important part of life.  It’s what makes the high-achieving medical student through the arduous months of studying for the USMLE.  It is what brings you to brush your teeth every day long after mom and dad stopped urging you.  And for young busy professional couples that rarely spend time with one another, it’s what gives you the sense of bonding, signaling that this is our time together.


: a formal ceremony or series of acts that is always performed in the same way
: an act or series of acts done in a particular situation and in the same way each time

From Merriam-Webster Dictionary

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Howard Chen
Vice Chair for Artificial Intelligence at Cleveland Clinic Diagnostics Institute
Howard is passionate about making diagnostic tests more accurate, expedient, and affordable through disciplined implementation of advanced technology. He previously served as Chief Informatics Officer for Imaging, where he led teams deploying and unifying radiology applications and AI in a multi-state, multi-hospital environment. Blog opinions are his own and in no way reflect those of the employer.

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