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the habit of habits

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I am beginning the 2nd week, in the 2nd hour on the 8th day of healing from what I’ve since learned was a complex arthroscopic hip surgery. It requires unflinching attention to continually maintain a particular angle so I don’t “fire” my hip flexor, and inadvertently do or un-do something. 

Patience is not one of my top 40 virtues. My habit is to create a timeline I feel is appropriate and acceptable, even though it may defy fundamental science and reality. 

However, if I reframe this particular situation, I can see this is opportunity to exercise grace by examining a few unintentional practices (a kinder way of saying habits) that may have been wildly useful in the past but no longer serve me.

Here’s the thing about habits.

We make a particular choice to do something because in the moment, it seems like a solution to a perceived problem.

As humans, we are constantly problem-solving. We make a choice because, given the way we’ve arranged the information we have, it’s the perfect thing to do. And if that choice works, we make that same choice in a similar situation again (and again… and again...)

Habit is a word that has different weight to different people. So to neutralize it a bit, I tend to think there are still-of-use habits and no-longer-useful habits. If you invert the idea, you can suss out the difference.

For example, you can ask:

How, or to what, is this (fill in the blank with a particular habit) a solution?

Let’s take my habit of waiting. Ironically, even though I'm impatient, I also have a shadow habit of waiting. It began as a way to listen and partner. Waiting was a way to show respect for someone, to acknowledge hierarchy, to prove adherence to a cultural norm. In some cases, this choice may still be useful.


I also wait for an invitation. I wait for someone else to create it so I can step in to it. I wait for someone to say something before I believe it. I wait for agreement. I wait for permission. I wait for the right timing. I wait for the weekend. I wait for retirement. I wait for it to fit into someone else’s schedule. I wait for someone to join me. I wait for more wisdom. I wait for something to end. I wait for something to begin. Even though I'm ready to go… I wait.

I'm deciding today that this particular choice I’ve repeatedly been making is no longer a solution.

Here's what I do next:

  • Express gratitude for this choice having served me well in the past
  • Know I have the agency to make another choice
  • Choose to do something in a new way.

It is that simple. 

Habits, perpetual choices, intentional practices, solutions we choose to address problems we perceive… are mutable, in flux, able to shift.

Swap out one choice for another. 

What a lovely thing.

Ok. I just finished my first cup of coffee… Brian is still sleeping, Yoshi does not have opposable thumbs, so it’s on me to make that second cup. It’s a 30 minute process to balance the liquid brown joy of caffeine in a cup with crutches, so I better get at it.

Always in motion,


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  • Thank you. A topic I have been reviewing myself and the impact how the change from old habits affects not only how I feel but how those around me are then required to participate on some level in my changes. Either to accept and create a new “normal” or to walk away after pushing back and then realizing I am not returning to the old habits/ways. Enjoy the coffee – elixir of the gods. <3

    Priscilla on

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