When my sons, now twenty-somethings, were toddlers, I was omniscient. Like the Great and Powerful Oz, I knew….everything.
For instance, I knew cars won’t start unless everyone is buckled in. This was factually true – our car wouldn’t start until everyone was seat-belted – but not entirely true, as the car could start without all that buckling, it just wouldn’t…
But that’s not my point. My point is: oatmeal won’t cook unless I’m doing PT exercises. Unlike the car and seat belts, this isn’t factually true – the microwave will do its thing regardless of me doing mine – but I’ve decided to make it habitually true. If a half cup of oatmeal, cup of water, pinch of salt, glass bowl and a microwave happen to converge in my vicinity, I will do my shoulder exercises for the duration of their collective cook time. Period.
There – that’s my point!
Figuring out the what and how of those linkages, building — and keeping — the habits are all both harder and easier than we like to think. Harder because habits can be tough to establish; easier because opportunities for linkage abound, if we’re attentive.
I believe such links are the keys to many a kingdom. Put them together and feel the magic. One of them certainly made getting my kids in the car and on the road a whole lot easier. It was years before they realized that the engine might actually be mechanically independent of the seat buckles…
I read a good deal now about micro-habits and inauguration habits (V. reminds me we used to just call them rituals) to which we might attach our desired behaviors. Through these practices, we identify activities that will reliably serve as triggers for doing something we know we should do, that we say we want to do, and that, even still, we don’t always do quite as much as we kinda thought we wanted to or should.
I know this: meditation, exercise, flossing – they’ve all benefited from the buddy system. The simpler and more ordinary the couplings, the better. My glitzier laden links collapse under their own weight.
Get up, meditate. Eat, exercise. Brush, floss. What else?
As I build a new normal and become increasingly intentional about how I expend – nay, invest – my time and attention, I look for these keys, these links. I seek to forge from them a lovely, sturdy chain of life habits.
Life Lesson #24: Nothing is stronger than habit. ~ Ovid