Power of Habit

I recently finished reading The Power of Habit by Charles Duhigg.  While the whole book is absolutely worth reading and a very interesting and in depth look at habits on a small scale, but also on a much grater scale, there’s one thing that stood out to me more than anything else: by focusing on one thing, one habit, you can change your entire lifestyle.  I think oftentimes we are overwhelmed by the things we can or should be doing.  Whether it is ending a bad habit or starting a new healthy habit, I think it often seems very complex, at least for me.  I know that when I first started running, for example, I kept on putting it off, thinking that I wanted to know everything there is about the ‘right’ way of doing it before I even started.  And thus, I put off running for a long time before I actually started.  Likewise, when I first got my studio, I put off going in it for over a month, thinking that I wanted to set it up first and make sure I had everything ready before I worked in it.  But then I just started running.  And I just started going into my studio.  And with time, little by little, I learned more and did more.  With running especially, I found many ‘side effects’, if you will.  I ate better because that’s what made me feel better, not because I set out to do so.  I slept better, I took care of myself better, I felt more accomplished.  My intake of fruit quadrupled.  Having experienced this, I was very excited to read about it in Duhigg’s book and understand myself better.  I am a big believer in the importance of psychology and knowledge of the self, as well as others, in general.  I love learning, reading, figuring out the reasons why people act the way they act, why they make the choices they make and why some things are harder for some people than others.  I am also a firm believer in tricking myself into doing stuff.  I make choices that I cannot back out of because I know that is the way I operate.  It is extremely hard for me to back out of something if I commit to it.  So, when I wanted to incorporate running into my life, I signed up for a marathon.  When I wanted to ensure that I would not be one of those art kids that stopped doing art altogether after earning a degree in it, I signed a lease for a studio.  Knowing myself allows me to manipulate myself, as horrible as that sounds.  Not in a bad way, just manipulate myself into being productive, into growing, into becoming a creator instead of simply a absorber or consumer.

While I absolutely recommend reading the book to fully understand what the term habit can mean and how often we find it in our lives and our society, I also want to share these charts from the author’s website that I think also function well as stand-alone aids.

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