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We are what we repeatedly do. Excellence is therefore not an act, but a habit. – Aristotle
I’ve been thinking a great deal about habits lately. The addition of a new, positive habit and the continued battle with a not so positive one started the train of thought.
A couple of days ago, I found myself in my favorite grocery store. I came to an aisle that I’ve been trying to avoid (the soft drink aisle) for a few weeks. My mind was a million miles away and I wasn’t really even paying attention to what I was doing. Instead of passing right by the aisle, old habits kicked in and I whirled my way down the aisle of soft drinks. I actually brought my cart to a halt directly in front of a huge, beloved habit I’ve embraced for over 15 years. I only became fully aware of where I’d landed when I snapped out of my thought and wondered why I’d stopped. As I automatically reached for a 2 liter of my favorite diet soda, I asked myself if I wanted to keep fighting against extra sodium and for a healthier diet or if I wanted to revert back to old habits.
It was a struggle – and one that didn’t exactly bring a smile to my face – but I let the bottle remain on the shelf and I wheeled to the tea aisle to try out a new green tea blend. (On a side note, I grabbed the Lipton Green Tea with Lemon and Ginseng and it’s excellent iced AND hot.
Last night, I had another run in with a habit, but this time it was a very welcomed one. Two of my daughters and I have been walking regularly for 30 minutes each evening. Last night, as our regular time approached, I found myself automatically finishing up my kitchen duties in anticipation. The night before had been rainy and we’d missed out on our walk – so I was raring to go!
In each case, my mind didn’t really plot or plan as much as it simply fell into a groove – a groove that had been created by continual, steady, even predictable actions. The good news is that a road of good habits is just as easy to pave as a road of bad habits. The diet soda habit was created over many years, which is why it’s proving to be a very strong opponent. This particular walking routine is, comparatively, in its infancy but it already has a strong hold on my mind and actions.
Forming new, positive, habits can even help you kick the negative ones. I’m developing a habit of trying new flavors and combinations of flavors with tea. I love to find which combinations create the best iced tea and which are best for a cup of hot tea in the evening. I’m certain that if I keep it up, one day I’ll find my cart pulling me toward the tea aisle rather than the soda aisle.
I read a story once by a man who was talking about his relationship with God. He said that inside of him lived two men: One wanted to serve God, read his Bible, pray, and live as righteously as he possibly could. The other man was a sinner who wanted to avoid God and all that He stood for. When asked which man was victorious – he said that it was whichever one he “fed” the most.
The same is true of our habits. If we feed our bad habits, they’ll grow and become stronger as we become weaker. If we feed our good habits, however, something truly remarkable happens: We grow and become stronger right along with them. Our habits either pull us back or push us forward, so choose wisely!
Make each moment count double,