Reading Lives: The Power of Habit

Our book this week, The Power of Habit by Charles Duhigg (BF335.D78.2012) is an interesting exploration of habits in all aspects of our lives. He gives the example of how Target tracks shoppers’ habits so that they know when certain consumers are pregnant and can market accordingly. But he also discusses that how we can change our own habits for the better by changing one of three elements: the cues, the rewards, or the routines involved.

Our question for this week: 

What potential habit would make you a happier person?

Colette: I’d like to make ongoing, meaningful correspondence my new, renewed habit.  Many years ago,  I used to write several letters per week, to friends and family.  This habit gave way, eventually, to several lengthy emails each week.  It genuinely made me happy to stay connected to people I care about, and I’ve never been a fan of talking on the phone.  Sadly, my email habit  has fallen by the roadside – pushed to the shadows by both text messaging and (ack) Facebook.  A text message is a great way to let someone know that you’re running late or that you’ve forgotten to put eggs on the grocery list.  It is not, however, a good venue to truly connect with another human being.  And neither is Facebook.  There, I’ve said it.  I have never been able to embrace Facebook.  I’ve tried.  I posted a couple pictures.  I’ve lurked on occasion at “friends'” pages.  I even fake harvested fake crops on a fake farm, one insipid summer.  I just don’t get the attraction.   Maybe I’m missing something, or my “friends” are just especially lame at posting.  I don’t get why they’d want everyone to know they just took some clothes out of the dryer, or that they had wanton soup for lunch.  I was raised to believe that yammering on about such mundane details made you both a bore and an ego maniac.  Anyway.  I’ve gotten off track.  This is supposed to be about forming healthy habits and  I’d like to bring back the art of connecting with people, old school.  I don’t think anyone I know is harboring a box under his bed, or tucked away in his attic, full of saved text messages from an old friend.

Emily: I’d likely be happier if I could stop worrying. But if you don’t worry about things, you can’t prepare, so it might lead to me being blindsided by a natural disaster, plague, nuclear war, getting trampled in a crowd, being attacked by a bear, finding a foreign object in a burrito, or looking into a solar eclipse. I guess it’s still a worthy cause. 

Pam: Sinking into my deepest psyche, the habit that would have made the most positive difference in my life—and that would now make the most positive happy difference in my life would be: 

To arise after waking, stretch, and after working here each day- choose to go to a workout facility (YMCA) and move my body through a routine of weight-bearing exercise and aerobic (swimming would be the best for me) workout. THIS would make a difference in my life, I am convinced now more than ever, as I watch nearly every person I grew up with (now older) slowly become weak, inflamed and cripplingly immobile.

 Sally: My habit to develop and maintain had be advocacy for things like libraries, TEL, MERLOT, greenways, bike parking facilities, active transportation, etc. 

Jolly Librarian: Sunday morning, I awoke early and felt strangely energetic. Before the Y opened at noon, I read the newspaper and my devotionals. I put away my laundry and ironed some skirts that had been waiting on top of the dryer for more than a month for some attention. Then I went up to the spare bedroom and weeded my bookcases. After filling up three bags of books, I was ready to get to the gym to exercise. “Wow,” I thought. “It feels so good to get things done. I’m going to do this everyday.” The next morning, after hitting the snooze button many, many, many times, I dragged myself into work late, with my hair unwashed, my body unexercised, and my mood depressed. So, yes, I firmly believe that if I could get into the habit of getting up when the alarm goes off, I would be a happier, more productive person.





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