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We are, all of us, creatures of habit

We are, all of us, creatures of habit. So wrote Edgar Rice Burroughs in The Beasts of Tarzan in 1914. Political correctness about the whole Tarzan thing aside, Mr. Burroughs was on to something.

Our habits can serve us well, as in keeping a regular schedule of personal hygiene. Or eating a healthy diet, or keeping in touch with friends, or practicing any number of behaviors that keep us safe, sane and alive. Our habits can also serve us poorly. Just take those last examples and put “not” in front of them.

The point is not judgment. It’s noticing.

You probably have habits you’d like to change and others you barely notice. You may be more likely to notice the former than the latter, but they are both habits. You learned them. You reinforced them. You can refine them, change them, drop habits, improve habits or develop new ones.

The word itself – habit – has a long and wide history. It comes up in obvious ways aside from the way I’m using it. A habit is a particular outfit you may wear. To inhabit is to put yourself into – into a home, into a frame of mind, into a character or role. To cohabitate is to share your space with someone. We deem someone addicted with the term drug habit and may extend that in various levels of dependency to technology, gambling, exercising or other pursuits, healthy or unhealthy.

At the root of it all is the proto-Indo-European word ghabh, which basically means “to hold” and can mean that in the sense of giving or taking. I’m holding this and it’s mine and I want to keep it, or I’m holding this and it’s mine and I want to give it away.

Notice your habits, your habitual behaviors, foods, interests, choices. Just notice. That’s enough to shake things up. Notice.

Sometime in the future, you can work on letting go of the habits that don’t serve you and strengthening the ones that do.

Peace and love to you in the week ahead.

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