As I was driving to school today, a quote I had read somewhere resonated in my head: “You are what you repeatedly do. Excellence, therefore, is not an act, but a habit.” I read this a while ago but it didn’t really hit too close to home for me. My initial thought was that pretty much the only thing I “repeatedly do” lately is be inconsistent. Not until today did I make the connection.
I am what I repeatedly do. Actions that are repeated again and again form habits. Therefore, in order to be healthy, I have to repeatedly act in healthy ways – form healthy habits. The opposite of this, being unhealthy, obviously means acting in unhealthy ways, thereby forming unhealthy habits. What was not so obvious to me at first is that inconsistent “attempts” at healthy behavior is actually just as hurtful to my cause as blatantly unhealthy behaviors.
It has been easiest for me to see this when I watch the reflection of our parenting skills in our son’s behaviors. For instance, though it was never really “decided” for or against it, after Bug was born, so was the family bed in our house. It was so nice when he was nursing to have him right within arm’s reach, to be able to feed him and resettle us both for the next short stretch of sleep. It certainly had its perks. Now, though, we’ve decided it’s best for our family to have the baby in his own crib at night. Mommy and Daddy need their space back, thank you… especially with our second on the way. This is an issue we’ve been struggling with for a few months now. I have been checking out books from the library and Google-ing various methods of transitioning him. We hate to hear our little boy cry so of course we tried all the “no-cry” methods we came across, with no success. The past couple of nights we have tried the extinction method and he actually has cried less and slept more than with the other methods. The trouble with the no-cry methods is that I would wear down before him, break consistency and give in and bring him back to our bed, thereby reinforcing the same habit we are trying to break. This goes to show how important consistency is to developing healthy behavior patterns.
As for me, the patterns that I have developed in my own life are mostly habits I learned as a child. Clearly, if I am exhibiting unhealthy behavior, then I am repeatedly making unhealthy choices similar to those I made as a youth. What I need to do now is relearn the poor habits I learned when I was younger and turn them into good habits.
Of course, philosophical revelations are lot easier had than done. This is where the trouble starts… Then again, maybe it’s where the fun begins.