Habit or Routine

It’s another chilly morning in downtown Forth Worth–one that warns you of the approaching winter. Saturday night the weather man predicts our first freeze. Take that mosquitoes. Super-Freeze will lay you low. Blam!

This changing weather made me start thinking about other changes, or the lack there of. How do we get an established routine going that bids us follow it every day? After waking up, I do some stretching exercises before hopping out of bed, weigh (good this morning; has been disheartening in the past), make coffee and cinnamon/dried cranberries/oatmeal, do the dishes, make the bed, read passages from SIMPLE ABUNDANCE and THE GREAT THOUGHTS, write a blog post, check e-mail and Facebook, and write in my electronic journal. Guess I’ve just gotten into this mindless routine. Well, I do think when I’m writing, but not when I’m putting the dishes in the dishwasher.

I don’t try to do everything that needs to be done in a short time. Guess I’m following William James’ advice when he wrote, “The art of being wise is knowing what to overlook.” Does that mean old newspapers, dusty bookcases, and full laundry baskets? Oh, well, another day for some household tasks. Having another cup of coffee and taking a cookie as a snack–enjoyable habit. I could have a piece of fruit, couldn’t I?

Routines are made up of a three-part "habit loop": a cue, a behavior and a reward. Understanding and interrupting that loop is key to breaking a habit, says journalist Charles Duhigg.

Maybe all those tasks are done just through habit. I read somewhere that it takes 30 days to change something you do into a habit. That must be about right, because I go to the Y three times a week now which I didn’t do until June. Getting ready for exercise class and yoga class on Tuesday, Thursday, and Friday mornings is just something I almost automatically do. Must be a habit now, so habits have formed my routine. Does that make sense?

Maybe it is a factor of age. Do you think so? Henri Frederic Amiel, a Swiss philosopher who lived from 1821 to 1881 had this to say about the subject, “To know how to grow old is the master-work of wisdom, and one of the most difficult chapters in the great art of living.” With any luck, I’ll use my habits to acquire wisdom and make it through the last chapter. However, I disagree with Amiel that growing older is difficult–no choice here, if you’re lucky. The senior years, the retirement phase, the downsizing, are all part of wonderful chapters. Life doesn’t get much better than this!

Annie Ambles through Life


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