When I was on vacation last week, my mom gave me a stack of stuff to read. One of them was a book of articles (blog posts from before blogging).
One was a fascinating article from the 1800s about habit. This doctor had observed how the more often a person does something, the easier it becomes to do again. Science has recently discovered this very thing in our neurons.
However, this doctor took the concept of habit in an interesting direction: that of force. I believe that she was talking about energy–you get up in the morning, and spend your force, or energy, over the course of the day.
Now, if your life has a series of good habits in it, this saves you a lot of energy. Things like getting up, showering, brushing your teeth, cooking meals at certain times, cleaning house–all these are good habits. They expend force. However, a person who has never consigned these menial tasks to habits must exert more force in order to accomplish them. They reach the end of the day with nothing left over.
The article then went on to talk about storing force. You store force by enjoying the moment, and by sitting and thinking, by having times of rest throughout your day. This is when you convert your force to a higher form, and it is used to bless and enrich those around you.
This really spoke to me. While I try to leverage habit or routine, I never, ever sit and store up force. I rarely take time to rest and think. If I have a quiet moment, out comes the device, and on goes the Internet. More energy is siphoned away by Facebook than anything else.
This week, I’ve tried to keep the household running on a routine, and have rest periods without Internet. And do you know, it’s been really pleasant. I had gotten frantic and angry, and wasted my force chasing the kids around, and lugging around the baby. This week it occurred to me that if the baby is old enough to scoot on her tummy and work on crawling, she’s old enough for an enforced nap time. Suddenly she’s much happier. I have more free time. I’m calmer. Habit wins the day again!
I find that writing works best if automated by habit. If I make it a habit to write or edit for an hour every night after the kids are in bed, it adds up. I can finish three books a year that way. The best thing is, if I have those few hours of quiet, I can store up force better. It helps me to think, and refreshes me with a better mood the next day.
Have you ever heard of “force” as applies to your energy level and exertion? Have you leveraged the power of habit to help run your life more smoothly?