Tag Archives: habit

The considered life

It’s good to pause and take stock. Ask yourself what you are doing, and why. How much is unavoidable? How much just seems unavoidable because you haven’t had time to stop and rethink it? Making the space to stop and examine your life every so often is a really good thing to do.

It’s so easy to become trapped in things because they seem normal. Everyone else is doing it… but on closer examination it may become apparent that you don’t have to do it, it isn’t obligatory. We get trapped in our own habits and routines, and whatever seems most normal can be hard to even  notice. How do we use our time? What are we doing with our lives? How many hours are lost to the mobile phone, to the commute, to things that give no joy and serve little purpose…?

Sometimes what traps us is systemic. It’s illness and poverty and the rules of our governments and unfair and prejudiced systems. It’s important to be able to see those things, to know what you have little power over, and what might be sorely limiting the people around you.

I don’t believe we can all manifest whatever we want. I don’t believe we can all suddenly turn our lives around to make them perfect. Grand leaps of faith into happier ways of living are only really possible for the person with no responsibilities, and a safety net made of money. Following your dream is easier if you have the cash to fund your dream. 

Even so, there may be changes to make. There may be small wins to go after. And yes, sometimes it does feel a lot like rearranging the deckchairs on the Titanic. But, why not? If the ship is going to sink anyway, why not have the best seating you can while you can. Why not have some goodness and some hope wherever you can find it. That doesn’t mean compromising your future for the sake of a few short term kicks, but it also doesn’t mean compromising the present moment when there’s no real reason to think doing so will improve your future expectations.

A considered life always has more options in it than one where we are just going through the motions.

Time, blogs and habits

I get the odd comment now and then about how I manage to blog pretty much every day. The short answer, is habit. It is easier to maintain just about anything if you can acquire it as a habit. Here I am, dead beat and late in the day, and sorely tempted not to write a blog, but this is something I do every day, and so I show up.

I’ve explored prayer, and meditation. Both are easier to maintain if I set aside a specific bit of the day for them. I’ve been a dabbler in music most of my life and I know that practice is easier to manage if there is a habitual pattern around it. Good sleep patterns are also habits, and I try to cultivate those with habits of behaviour at the end of the day designed to encourage sleeping. Exercise is most easily maintained through frequency and habit. So is housework. In fact the majority of things that take up our time can be structured into routines to ensure that we keep doing them.

The first issue this raises, is one of time. There are only so many hours in a day, and how you deploy each is now in question. If your habits are unconscious, then you won’t automatically know what time is devoted where. Television, facebook and computer games will easily suck up a lot of time without that being noticed. All too often, our habits of time use are not considered, and not serving us. However, once you consider how you deploy your time and what your habits are, you have to start weighing and valuing how time is used. How much time is spent commuting? How much goes on reading? What does cleaning cost you in terms of time? We only get to use it once.

The second issue, is of order verses chaos, and I don’t get on with too much order, which means I can’t live to a tight timetable.

Every choice to make something a habit and give time to it every day, is a choice that excludes other possibilities. It doesn’t matter whether we do that consciously, or not. If we do it consciously, we get to decide and that’s got to be an advantage. Every half hour I devote to writing a blog is not spent on writing fiction. Every hour on fiction is not spent on music, every hour of music is not spent on cleaning. There are balances to strike between needs of the body, the soul and the bank balance. The need for rest, the need for play and for more stimulating experience. Duties to honour, and inspiration to seek, and no minute replaceable.

There are no right answers, and the habits of time that would suit each of us best depend very much on our needs. I chose blogging, for at least a small fragment of my day. I don’t tidy up as often as I might.