On Habit

2 minute read

Doing something, anything, 13 days in a row begins to make that thing easier and easier. We are creatures of habit. Unfortunately, we are also creatures of laziness and would prefer to eat Twinkies and watch TV all day. A good friend of mine is currently on a “Was I lazy today?” challenge where the goal is to answer no every day. It doesn’t mean you can’t be lazy at all, just did you avoid laziness for at least some part of your day. It an interesting idea. Related, Create Something Every Day. It’s so easy to just let days float away from us in the hustle and bustle of everyday life. Making sure that we aren’t lazy for at least some part of our waking hours leads to a much more productive and fulfilling life.

All this to say, the writing is starting to flow again even though I haven’t been spending the requisite time on it that I’d like. Again, that life thing gets in the way like finding out your web host has gone tits up at 9 PM on Sunday evening. Thankfully, I got this site moved over this morning in the wee hours and will move 3 others tomorrow I hope. Still, even with those interruptions, there is always time in the day to do things you enjoy, things that are good for you, things that have meaning. Even the smallest thing, going for a walk or learning something new can make a world of difference. Something as simple as a Lenten challenge to yourself to write every day is powerful in its effect on everyday life.

I’ve got several other things I’d like to write about including more fiction and it’s nice for a change to have more ideas than hours and days to put them to pen (or bytes in this case). That isn’t to say that the blank page isn’t still slightly anxiety inducing. Tomorrow, I may be telling a completely different story and not in a good way. But it’s nice to be in something of a habit again. They say, whoever “they” is, it takes 20+ days to form a habit and only 1 to break it. That’s why it’s important to have a challenge or a motivation. Eventually, that external motivation becomes internal motivation, a concept I read about in an excellent book called Flow. The happiest people in the world derive their pleasure internally for its own sake. Most of us derive pleasure externally by the actions of others or awards we win or money we make or cars we drive. That’s why it’s so easy to manipulate the consumers of America, our consumerism is what we think makes us happy. But that happiness is ephemeral and nebulous. True happiness comes from inside which is a disgusting cliche but even the most disgusting cliche has truth in it.

The hard part is changing the derivation of happiness from external to internal. Habit allows us to work on that as over time, we gain pleasure not just from the X’s on the calendar where we did something but from the output or the result or the journey it took to arrive. Find something you love and commit to doing it every day, even if only for 20 minutes. Eventually that 20 minutes will grow into something you can take pride in. That feels like it’s starting to happen with my writing again.