New Habits

“Never suffer an exception to occur till the new habit is securely rooted in your life. Each lapse is like the letting fall of a ball of string which one is carefully winding up; a single slip undoes more than a great many turns will wind again.” William James

Developing a new habit is the struggle to make a change that one perceives is valuable.  The habit I have most recently added is this blog.  I committed to writing daily, and to avoid the inevitable lapses with varying rationalizations that I am so prone to, I made a  very public commitment and told  the one person I could depend on to hold me accountable of my new habit.  I have backed myself into my own corner.

I have not been a creature of habit, I tend to work in waves of activity.  Habits I have tried to cultivate have fallen by the wayside more often than not, routine has not been a strong point to date.  I tied this exercise of creating and rooting a new habit with something that I have approached in waves in the past, but remains a passion; thinking, analyzing, and writing to understand the inner and outer worlds of the mind and the imagination.

As the time has passed the daily writing becomes more difficult rather than easier and I suspect this is about the time when I have dropped the ball of string, never to pick it up again so many times.  To persevere through this stage and come out the other side has been the goal; to that end, each day I spend more and more time searching for a topic, an inspired notion to share and expand upon.  A side benefit is spending time with great thinkers, philosophers, self-help gurus, the witty and the wise.  Often what I read is so succinct that expounding on it would do a disservice.  But there is little that does not get me thinking and it is also possible that my thoughts carry me in an unexpected direction, the result of which you read here.

As much as humans seem are creatures of habit we seem more often the prisoners of our bad habits than the creators of healthy habits.  The bad habits stem from a lack of mindfulness.  Before the first cigarette is lit, the first bag of greasy fries consumed, careful consideration of the consequences would surely give us pause.  But we mindlessly allow these harmful habits to sneak into our lives and hold us hostage.  When we are mindful and present we have to ability to see more clearly and judge the value of the habit.  Why then is it so very difficult to grow the roots of a good habit?  It may lie in the path of least resistance.  It is easy to procrastinate, drift along and give in when the first small difficulty arises.  It is hard and requires discipline to actively make good choices and fully integrate those into our lives with sound habits.  Continuing to push on until the activity requires little or no thought to begin and is fully ingrained is a worthy challenge.

I think that the next time I approach my computer with a sigh at the thought of writing because I committed to do so, I will remind myself of two things; first I chose to do this because it is an activity that ultimately makes me deeply happy; and second, to visualize myself chasing that string that has unwound.

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