“Habit,” says Vladimir in Samual Beckett’s immortal Waiting For Godot, “is the great deadener.” 

We think of habits usually as either good or bad.  We respect good habits, and are ashamed of bad ones.  But almost everything we do either follows or departs from habit.  Your daily routine, for example.  What does it take to get you going in the morning?  Is it not a series of rituals you’ve adopted?  When you arrive at work, is there not an habitual set of motions through which you go as you settle in to the day’s challenges?  When you go home at the end of the day, so you not savor a certain set of habitual actions as you wind down?  All parts of our days are guided by habit.

If you drop the need to label your habits either good or bad, and simply see them all as rote activities, you may be able to manipulate them to your benefit.  Departing from any habit is a huge refresher, a way to open your eyes and appreciate new possibilities.  It’s extremely healthy to ignore a habit or two on a regular basis; you can always go back to it.  Eat ice cream for breakfast, take a new route to work, vary your job routine however you can, lunch alone or not at all, spend the evening with a book instead of the tv.  Providing variety in your personal path will energize other parts of your life and responsibilities as well.

Cultivating helpful habits (like oatmeal, not ice cream for breakfast) is a major part of maturing into wisdom.  Let us not mitigate this truth.  But the higher reality is that any habit in the end is a ‘deadener,’ and at least varying our habits so that we’re not attached inextricably to any one of them is a basic of the creative life.


1 comment so far

  1. […] here’s today’s pointer.  A while ago I posted about habits, and how it’s helpful to switch them out now and then.  This is a related concept: dig […]

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