Habits

The Renaissance teaches us that the book of knowledge is not to be learned by rote but is to be written anew in the ecstasy of living each moment for the moment’s sake. Success in life is to maintain this ecstasy, to burn always with this hard gemlike flame. Failure is to form habits. To burn with a gemlike flame is to capture the awareness of each moment; and for that moment only. To form habits is to absent from those moments. — Tom Stoppard

It would be difficult to say whether busyness or habit is the greater source of unhappiness unless of course your main habit is busyness. I am not a fan of either. I do have a few habits to maintain the simple everyday routines of my my life like always putting my money and keys in my nightstand drawer when arriving home, and checking the burners on the stove are turned off before sitting down to eat. I make my bed and brush my teeth each morning. I also check to make sure I have my keys before closing the front door as it locks automatically. These are habits which help to maintain order and safety in my home. If you have ever been late for an appointment and in a panic can’t find your keys, you know what I am alluding to.

Automatic is the key word here. That what habits are once they become ingrained into your routine. They do help in the simplicity of life because we reach the point where we trust them. I do not have to think about where my keys or money are because they are automatically in the same place as always. It is similar to driving with an automatic transmission. Once you put the car in gear, you no longer have to think about it. It is no longer a part of your consciousness. Unlike a standard transmission which requires one to pay attention to what gear the car is engaged at all times.

I think we develop habits out of our busyness in life. So many daily things require our attention that we simplify our routines with hopefully, reliable habits. As I previously mentioned, I do not like to form habits because habits are done unconsciously. They are done without paying attention to your actions. I strive to be conscious of every action I take because I am responsible for that action. Habits can be destructive as much as they are useful because they are unconscious actions. The habit of texting or talking on the phone while driving is a habit many people engage in even though it is against the law in most states. This habit is no doubt formed out of busyness. We are multitasking all the time. Those who engage in this habit not only risk a fine and ticket, but they risk their own life and the lives of others.

A while back, one of my library patrons, after checking out her books, asked herself, “Now where did I put my keys?” “O here they are,” she said, “right where I always put them.” Then she turned to me and said, “You know, when you get my age, a good habit is better than a poor memory.”

I agree, but if you chose to have a habit, make it one that does not bring harm to yourself or to others. It’s a busy world out there.