Monday, January 22, 2018

Habits ~ my column from Sunday's paper

Habits are interesting. The dictionary defines a habit as a settled or regular tendency or practice. That’s fine if the habit is exercising, reading, or getting enough sleep. But bad habits are problematic. Research shows that it takes more than two months to form a good habit. But a bad habit takes less time. Bad habits are like kudzu, drop one seed on Monday, and you can’t see your backyard by the following weekend. One of my New Year’s resolutions was to work on my habits. So, I’ve spent the first part of January weeding out some bad habits and starting some new ones.

One of the new habits is reading at least 30 minutes a day. I’m not talking about Facebook here, but good books. I’m reading On Walden Pond by Henry David Thoreau. It is full of gems of wisdom.  When I finish it, I’ll start a new one. 

Daily guitar practice is another routine I’ve started. I played every day for years but took a day off. The day off stretched into weeks and then months. I’m not sure why I stopped, but my guitar got dusty and my fingers got rusty during the holidays. Since the first of the year, I’ve played daily and worn new callouses on my fingers. It hurts so good.

Another new habit that I captured on my list of “Good Habits” list was to write daily in my journal. I did updates every day for years. There’s a shelf of old journals in my office library dating back to the 1980s. My journals are private. The scribbled ink on these pages describes what I thought and felt at the time about the events. Sometimes the words were things I would never have said out loud. Somehow committing my thoughts to paper helped me make sense of the world at a time when my life seemed complicated. It might not have helped, but I felt that it did.

I got out of the habit of writing daily journal updates when I began blogging in 2005. After all, I was writing a blog entry each day too. But blogging is different because it’s not private. In fact, there are hundreds of people who follow my blog. The blog sometimes gives me ideas for these weekly columns. That reason alone makes blogging worthwhile. But my blog entries rarely touch on my innermost dreams, thoughts, and fears. 

During the last few weeks of 2017, I spent time pouring through my old journals. In looking back, I got a sense of how I spent the past 30 years. I saw habits come and go. It was easy to see where I spent my money and more importantly, where I spent my time. It was interesting to learn that I’d squandered more than I realized. 

I read once that bad habits are like a comfortable bed. I thought that was an appropriate analogy. We all sleep in every now and then, bad habits will keep you there. But investing the time to form new habits is time well spent. 

This has nothing to do with habits, but I did shoot the picture in January.


  1. You are so very right that bad habits are easier to acquire. Sigh.

  2. I'm afraid to not play every day because it took so long to get the callouses.

  3. It's a wonderful thing to see something blooming in January ! The only green you see here these days are pine trees. I have some comfortable habits that I'll never change and others that need changing too. Writing on my blogs, I have 2, everyday is something that has become a habit and is like journaling for me.

  4. Habits. I have broken some VERY SERIOUS personal habits over the years and NONE of them was a piece of cake. Forming a new habit is the same problem with me. That is not so with my girl, she has a will of steel, once she decides. Probably I am just too non-committal (Maybe just plain sorry!)

  5. Great message, Rick! I totally 'get' what you're saying about some things far too personal for public consumption. Perhaps it's not too late.....

  6. Thought provoking. I feel the need to evaluate my own habits.

  7. Yeah why are bad habits or habits that are not so good for us the easiest habits to form

  8. Bad Habits can set one back for sure. Once the weekend goes by, I plan to engage in some good habits for sure


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