Sometimes I wonder how much of my life is made up out of habits – instead of necessities (for survival). How much of my actions are governed merely by the fact that I’m used to their specific execution and routines, instead of me actually ‘needing’ them to reach my goals and fulfilment. How much of my life is performed by ingrained behaviors outside of my visible control and perception….
Thoughts like those are usually followed by me trying to unravel that puzzle further, and attempting to pinpoint how and why these habits came to be, and what it would take to change them. Hell – I even find myself pondering whether they could be changed at all. And then I find myself digressing down a path of amazement as I start looking into behaviors that, when carefully considered, make no sense whatsoever.
But most of it eventually centers around the age old question – can you teach an old dog new tricks? And should you even want to?
I observed someone only last week – who freaked me out completely by ‘putting on his shoes and socks wrong’. Wrong – in my case, was him putting on the sock for his left foot, followed by the shoe. Only to move on to the right side. For me, as a sock-sock, shoe-shoe person – this was an affront to anything that is right in the world. A jaw to the floor, eyes as big as saucers, fullblown disbelief kind of situation. But let’s be honest – this routine is not exactly one that needs to be followed to keep the world turning. I wouldn’t spontaneously combust were I to switch to his methods. Yet, somehow, the mere thought of it felt unthinkable. Undoable. Impossible. Unchangeable.
Now, sock-and-shoe policies might not be the key to solving the puzzle – but they do provide an insight in something I find interesting. Habits. I have many of them, and I’m assuming the same goes for anyone reading this as well.
The thing is, habits very rarely get counted into our conscious life choices when it comes to improving oneself. They’re so ingrained in our being, so basic to the way we operate – that we tend to no longer ‘see’ them as behaviors that could (possibly) be changed. So when we’re evaluating the things we might want to undertake to become a better person, these habits fall outside of our realm of consideration. They’re not judged for being ‘right’ or ‘wrong’ and they’re never really subject to betterment.
Yet – when I take a carton of milk out of the fridge and put it to my lips to drink from it….EVEN if I already grabbed a glass to pour it in – that habit doesn’t necessarily improve my life. God. I still remember several times when I took a few gulps of spoiled milk and got the instant ‘reward’ for chugging chunks. GROSS. Still…somehow I have this uncontrollable need to drink straight from the carton (only for milk, most of the time). EVEN when I just need that milk for cooking. Sip.Sip.Sip.
But considering that I want to lose weight. And that I want to be more healthy in my choices – blindly chugging milk just for the hell of it…is not exactly ‘wanted’ behavior. But it’s so much of a habit that I do it anyway. So I find myself wondering. How much invisible behaviors do I actually have – and how many of them would not make the list of ‘things to keep doing’ when evaluated?
What if I’m a whole different person than I think I am – just because I can’t see it anymore?