Daily Archives: March 8, 2015

Breaking Patterns

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At the moment before the sun drops below the trees in the western sky, this view to the east is glorious. The trees seem lit from below; every branch, leaf and needle stands out. The colors are spectacular, at any time of year. I should pause every single day, to watch this. Wouldn’t that be a worthwhile habit?

I know I’m good at forming habits.

My life abounds with examples.

Unfortunately, the habits I most easily form are not the ones I want.

First there are the “bad” habits: addictive; unhealthy; wasters of time. Those habits are easy to form and hard to break.

As for addictions, fear of dependance makes me cautious. Though I quit smoking cigarettes many years ago, I know just one puff would have me right back in that downward spiral. I enjoy alcohol only occasionally, and almost never to excess. When I read about a drug that gives a feeling of euphoria, or makes all problems seem to disappear, I think, “WHY would anyone ever mess with that?” It’s not that I wouldn’t like my problems to disappear…it’s a fear of liking that feeling. At this time, caffeine is my biggest addiction, and the jury is still out on whether that’s unhealthy or not.

I have plenty of unhealthy habits, whether coffee is one of them or not. There is my love for chocolate, butter, pasta, bread and cheese, each of which I indulge in more than is good for me. There is my habit of skipping breakfast, and my habit of eating supper too close to bedtime. There is my habit of sitting too long in this computer chair, or hunched over the drawing table or bent over a bit of stitching or crochet. I’m sure there are others.

Time-wasting habits abound. Many revolve around the computer. Mornings, with coffee in hand, I check Email, then a social media site where I check updates then take my turns in a trivia game and a word game, then this site where I read and sometimes comment on several blogs. Evenings, I often repeat the process. When I have television (not right now), I rarely miss Jeopardy.

Then there are the “habits of neglect.”

These are amazingly easy to form. They say it takes about 21 days to form a habit. True, if applied to a “good” habit. Not, however, in the case of habits of neglect.

It’s a scientific principle: “There is a tendency toward disorder in the universe.”

Based on that, disorder is the default setting. Three weeks to form the habit, say, of making the bed every morning; two days of neglect and the habit is gone. File every paper as it comes into the house…to a stack of mail on the counter just inside the kitchen door. Drink eight glasses of water a day to, “I’m not much of a water-drinker.” For ten years I walked two miles almost every single day. Now, after one year of extremes: snow, ice, rain and mosquitoes, that habit has become, instead, the habit of neglecting my walk. For more than three years I have regularly posted blogs. Is my habit now becoming one of neglecting to write?

This has to change! I am disgusted with the stacks of paperwork and projects that have become “landscape” throughout my home. I am tired of the long list of things I need to do just to “get back on track.” I am terrified of losing myself in all the clutter and “busy”ness that surrounds me.

It’s time to change those patterns. It’s time to decide what’s important and eliminate what isn’t. It’s time to devote time and attention to what is meaningful in my life. The list is pretty basic: family, friends, art-making, writing, reading, walking, cooking and gardening. And remember to pause and appreciate glorious moments that are handed out free.