The Beauty of Habit


This morning, I got up and read my Bible, swishing coconut oil as per usual.  I prayed.  I looked at the weather forecast (pouring down rain for the foreseeable future:  check). I checked email and Facebook, and posted a verse on my page.  I found a kettlebell workout on YouTube and sweated in a new way. I did not clean up cat vomit. That’s nearly become an everyday thing, thanks to Chloe.

All of these things have become habit for me.  I don’t think about them. I just do them.  They flow together into a seamless whole for the morning. I alternate between running and weight workouts to keep things interesting.

You might criticize my habits and say, Well, Susan.  Facebook?  At 5:00 a.m.?  Is that necessary?  Maybe not.  Since I’ve started working full-time, I don’t check Facebook as often.  No time, plus the city’s computers track all the websites I touch.  Gulp.

The word habit has a bad reputation.  When we think about habit, it’s usually in the context of breaking a bad habit.  Habit means:

  • a settled or regular tendency or practice, especially one that is hard to give up:  “this can develop into a bad habit
  • an addictive practice, especially one of taking drugs.”a cocaine habit”
  • general shape or mode of growth, especially of a plant or a mineral
    a shrub of spreading habit”
  • a long, loose garment worn by a member of a religious order or congregation.

Leaving out the clothing angle, you can see even in the definition, it garners a negative connotation. But habits aren’t all bad.  In fact, if something has morphed into a habit, it means somewhere along the way, you mustered up enough discipline to make it  permanent part of your life.  Perhaps it happened unconsciously, like drinking coffee or petting your cat.  The cat rubbed your leg, you sat down and he/she/it curled up in your lap. Cozy habit formed! If you worked at something with a will, like setting a goal of some kind, it took effort on your part. Or maybe you surrendered to the inevitability of biannual dental checkups or eating an apple a day.

As they days grow shorter – and wetter – I find myself examining some of my previously ignored habits.  Should I keep doing that?  What about this?  Can I crowd out some lingering baddies with new good things? Life is fleeting. I’m getting older, and I want to do things that propel me forward in Christ, further good relationships, good health and foster continuous growth both in my life and in those whom I get to encourage.  I want to jettison any flotsam or detritus I’ve picked up over the decades. You can teach an old(er) dog new tricks.  I’m ready.

This post inspired by lonestarrungirl.  Thanks!