August 7, 2008


"...running the 800 stairs everyday
...I hadn't felt that good in years."
from THE WEST COAST TRAIL: One Step at a Time

Years ago, I attended a course in which the facilitator talked about building new habits and how we do that. According to her, we need to do something every day for 21 days in order to lock something in as a habit. So here I am, day two of getting up at 4:45 AM and at my computer by 5 in order to start the day with a little creative writing. In order to make this a lifetime habit, I need to get up every morning ( I suppose that means weekends, too) and start the day like this. Only 19 to go. The course leader used this technique when she talked about breaking old habits as well. We need to go 21 straight days without a cigarette, or sugar, or TV, or whatever our addiction of choice is, in order to break the harmful, habitual effects of our "bad habit."
I wonder why creating good habits is so much more challenging than creating bad ones, or is that just me? Does it have something to do with attitude because on the one hand, we assume that changing or stopping an activity that we label as negative, has to be hard. Haven't we been told that all of our lives and haven't the forces of marketing supported that viewpoint. Just watch a commercial for any ot the weight loss programs and we are conditioned to assume that achieving our ideal weight is impossible on our own without the help of one of the fitness gurus or fading TV stars on display. Perhaps we set ourselves up for failure (which is in the best interests of those weight loss companies) by beginning with the idea that we can't do it. A little like going to Vegas with our anticipated losses already figured into the budget.
I'm kind of all over the place here this morning when the point I simply wanted to make is that our minds and bodies probably don't know the difference between good and bad habits but rather respond to the disciplined daily routine that we establish. So how does getting up at 4:45 AM become a "good" habit and stopping at the DQ around 2 this afternoon become a "bad" one? I don't know the answer to that, so let's tune in tomorrow for more revelations - I can't wait!

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