I believe that variety is a (but maybe not the) spice of life and that novel experiences are huge contributors to happiness. The research backs it up.

I’ve also eaten the same thing for breakfast nearly every day for five years (maybe more), and it has made me incredibly happy.

Every morning, I prepare an easy-to-assemble, but seemingly extravagant, breakfast sandwich. It includes cream cheese, smoked salmon, an over-easy egg, red onion, spinach and, depending on the season and deals at the grocery store, a mix of additional produce like tomatoes, cucumbers, and bell peppers, served open-faced on a slice of whole grain (but occasionally sourdough or rye) toast. Plus a small side of fruit. And espresso, of course.

Even though the sandwich is delicious, I’m constantly surprised I’m not sick of it. So, I’ve been thinking about why it’s brought me more delight than having something different each day. Here’s what I came up with.

It’s part of a ritual – My morning routine is more of a ritual, really, and it’s something I look forward to and cherish. It helps me start my day in a way I can feel good about.

It’s an early win – Having a real meal—a delicious one with protein and vegetables—is a huge win, and it happens pretty much first thing. If nothing else goes right the rest of the day, I know breakfast was a success.

It gives me a sense of mastery – Since I’ve been doing this for so long, I have perfected the timing of the entire production to get my toast and egg yolk just right and have the sandwich, fruit, and coffee ready at the same time. Like the early win, doing something well, first thing in the morning, is incredibly satisfying.

It prevents decision fatigue – Like Steve Jobs and his uniform of a black turtleneck and jeans to save brainpower for more important things, having a go-to breakfast saves me the time and energy involved in deciding what to eat.

It keeps me full – Before I adopted this breakfast, I would be hungry (like, ready for a full meal hungry) by the time I started work. And it’s not like I eat breakfast really early or have a freakishly fast metabolism. Before, I never skipped breakfast, but I certainly wasn’t eating things that kept me satiated and energized.

It streamlines grocery shopping – How I’ve optimized the chore of grocery shopping is a topic for another post, but I always know to grab my breakfast staples (or check on them before I go). Even back when I traveled, I would hit up a grocery store on the way to my Airbnb and get the sandwich ingredients so that I could make it on the road. (A small tub of pico de gallo is a great substitute for all the fresh veggies when traveling.)

It’s (semi)diagnostic – If I wake up and I don’t want my sandwich, I know I might be sick. The same goes for coffee: if I wake up and crave tea instead of coffee, I know something’s not right.

When I worked at the Hepatitis B Foundation, I was having lunch with renowned researcher Dr. Barry Blumberg one day and he told me that he had a turkey sandwich for lunch every day for decades because it was healthy, delicious, and easy. That was years before I created this habit, and I actually forgot all about it until I started writing this post (or did I?).

What is something in your life that brings you joy and contentment despite (or maybe because) it’s part of your routine? Do you wear a “uniform” like Steve Jobs? I want to know!

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