In Praise Of Habits

 

Hobonichi Techo

Back on January 1st, I vowed to use the Hobonichi Techo I’d finally purchased (peer pressure) to record…

  • Appointments, in pencil because appointments often change
  • Good things/moments from my day
  • What I ate for dinner

Oddly enough, I’ve been recording all of that. Every day. I have the world’s worst record for consistently journaling. The bottom of one of my filing cabinets contains stacks of partially filled notebooks. I used to write a complainy blurb, then let seven or so years go by before I felt moved to record another paragraph. On the plus side, this makes a notebook last a really long time, but, on the other hand, it doesn’t make for insightful or inspiring reading.

Hobonichi Techo

The Hobonichi Techo and I just clicked. I worried that the size might be too small, but it’s proven to be just right. Filling up a page doesn’t take long, yet I can get in a lot of detail about my day and all of the good things that happened. No complaining allowed in this book. I’ve also taken to recording quotes that I come upon, usually on Twitter, often by Anne Lamott.

Hobonichi Techo

On the monthly pages at the front of the book, I’ve continued to record exercise details—gym visits, step counts, and mileage. Thanks to the Whole Life Challenge, and the support of a very good friend, the gym has become a place I enjoy even when I’m breathing hard, sore, and soaked. For someone who dreaded every moment of gym class in school, this is yet another miracle—another habit that has taken root. I’m learning that habits are like that. Sustaining the first habit makes it that much easier to stick with another one, and another one after that.

Hobonichi Techo

Full of quotes that buoy me up, details from my day that I surely would’ve forgotten, little epiphanies, and dinner ideas, the 2016 Techo has already become a treasured resource. I love leafing through it, seeing different inks, and moods, and blessings. I can’t imagine life without one. The 2017 version is already waiting in the wings.

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At the end of June 2016, I made a decision to FINALLY get out of bed to sit at my desk to faithfully write Morning Pages. As I’ve said before, this is an idea I’ve toyed with for years, but never put into practice. I was always too lazy, too tired, too full of excuses. Finally I decided to give it a shot. June 25th, 2016—a new habit was born.

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Now I can’t imagine my life without this practice. It’s been three plus months and though I have to get up at 5:30 am during the week to get to work on time, I look forward to writing these pages every single day. I dump anything and everything into this Nanami Paper Seven Seas “Writer” journal—dreams, worries, conversations, inspiring moments, petty complaints, joys, and anxieties. There’s not too much of the “we did this, we did that” kind of stuff, though, of course there is a little of that. What’s so cool is that I usually sit down with little idea of how I’ll fill the lines and pages, and yet there are always words. There are always ideas and problems and moods and feelings.

Tommie River Seven Seas Writer

I used to write three pages a day, but I’ve recently scaled back to two so that I have enough time to do ten minutes of meditation followed by five minutes of stretching before I jump in the shower. Meditation? Stretching? More habits? Who am I?

Encouraged by my ability to sustain these writing habits, and with the help of The Whole Life Challenge (I’m currently entering the third week of my seventh challenge), I’m finding it easier and easier to sustain other lifestyle habits. So every morning, I write, meditate, stretch, and drink 20 ounces of water before leaving the house. And you know what? I feel great. Calmer. Lighter. Stronger. (Stretchier?)

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The idea for a Jar of Awesome also came out of the Whole Life Challenge. While some on my team found the practice to be “hokey,” I loved it. As I wrote back in June, the thought of having the jar fill up with special moments from the day seemed like a great way to notice how much goodness there is in our lives, much of which would zip on by if we’re not looking for it. So I started a jar and have it sitting on my dresser.

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I will admit that this habit fell off my radar for awhile until recently, when I was listening to Elizabeth Gilbert on the “On Being” podcast. She spoke about her Happiness Jar, and I vowed to revive the practice. It takes less than a minute to write down something from your day that made you smile, something that will be nice to remember when you’re having one of those days. So I cut up some paper into strips, and have the strips and a pen sitting right next to the jar. I’m still not super consistent with this habit, but it’s one I want to continue to cultivate. I want to see this jar STUFFED with the tiny but wonderful things that accumulate as we go through our ordinary days. I want to get better at noticing those things even in the days that leave me feeling wrung out and run over.

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Habits. I was never very good at sustaining them. But look at me now—journaling, exercising, meditating, stretching, looking for the good in each day. One habit made the next one seem possible, then the next one, and the next one.

Habits. Practiced day by day. Words. Feelings. Recorded letter by letter, line by line, page by page. I’m writing. I’m living. I’m grateful.

Always grateful.

I can think of no better use for my pens, paper, inks, and notebooks than to express that.

I’m currently participating in a weeklong Social Media blackout, the latest Whole Life Challenge lifestyle challenge. I normally post a link to a new blog post on Twitter but can’t do that without losing points. If someone reading this could post a link for me, I’d be…you guessed it…grateful.